Commercial & Large Scale Horticulture

The horticulture industry has a great opportunity to minimise carbon emissions by reducing the amount of fossil fuel energy used for growing. However, it is recognised that the level of risk associated with conducting necessary investigative projects in a traditional commercial context might be considered unattractive. To overcome this and thereby stimulate a growth in sustainable horticulture, funding was secured for the Integrated Greenhouse project, enabling The Living Rainforest to construct a building of exemplar design, that will lead the way in terms of demonstrating what is possible.


All work carried out during the Integrated Greenhouse project is designed for replication in a commercial context. We will use standard components whenever possible, typical spans and common construction methods, using modular construction methods which are scaleable for commercial use.

In addition to maximising energy efficiency by careful consideration of the construction materials and methods used, the project will incorporate an integral Vertical Soil Heat Exchanger heating and cooling system for the new greenhouse, reducing the necessity (approaching zero) for external ventilation. Consequently, the infiltration of pests and other airborne hazards, an issue faced in commercial glasshouse horticulture, will be minimised. This will reduce necessary treatments, which are expensive and often use petroleum based products, therefore adding to the carbon footprint of an organisation.

Ongoing analysis and modeling, based on data collected from the integrated glasshouse and associated buildings, will allow extrapolation into a wider commercial context. It is expected to demonstrate that significant reductions are possible in the size of the carbon footprint of commercial horticulture by use of these techniques. Analysis of operational data and evaluation of the systems performance will be implemented by our project partner PRI.

The Integrated Greenhouse project aims to demonstrate that the proposed, sustainable technologies work and to provide testable data about their characteristics when in use. Research to-date supports the hypothesis that glasshouses can be used as passive solar collectors, and that harvested heat can be stored seasonally and used to heat a greenhouse and other integrated buildings. It is hoped that by demonstrating the application of EC sustainable development policies within the horticulture and construction sectors, including links to the EC sustainable energy strategy, this project will help stimulate the integration of sustainability across a range of important economic sectors, reducing both long-term costs and carbon emissions. In addition, the integration of environmental protection with economic growth in the horticulture construction and energy sectors will help contribute to the goals of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) and the sustainability and competitiveness strategies of the EC.

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