Greenhouse Tour

March 23rd, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

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Thanks, Charles, for giving me a tour of the new St. Olaf College greenhouses.

The glass structures sit atop the new science building on the hill. Charles Umbanhower Jr. graciously gave me a walking tour of the greenhouses last week. This is part of my interest in developing low energy commercial greenhouses for urban food production.

Low energy usage is a challenge, especially if the greenhouse is to produce through the winter. The typical wall and roof of a green house is a single pane of glass, lapped to shed water and condensation. The typical roof is similar, relying on heat loss to melt snow, thereby minimizing the roof structure requirements. Insulated glass panels tend to experience seal failures, leading to high replacement costs over time.

Interest in low-energy greenhouses seems to be on a rise, inspiring this architect to search for innovative solutions.

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