Keeping Current With New Technology Makes Sense

A new greenhouse improves capacity, efficiency and constructs brighter futures.

The new CS3 greenhouse occupies the same footprint as the old structure, however the site was regraded and a new concrete floor was poured. Photo: Neil Devaney

Transitioning from a decades-old polyhouse to a state-of-the-art greenhouse is a dramatic change. It’s a step recently taken by Trident Technical College in North Charleston, SC. The new 3,000-square-foot structure provides more energy efficiency, labor-saving environmental control systems, and more vertical space for growing hanging baskets. What’s more, the next generation of growers will graduate equipped with the knowledge of how to use the modern equipment.

The project was spearheaded by Tony Bertauski, Horticulture Program Director at Trident. “Because we are an educational institution, I felt we really needed to have these tools so students coming through here would know what tools are available and how to operate them,” he says.

Stuppy Greenhouses was chosen through a bidding process to construct the new facility—a CS3 greenhouse with double polycarbonate glazing. Stuppy has extensive experience building educational greenhouses, which sometimes have unique challenges, and the site at Trident had a few.

Trident Tech’s previous facility was a two-bay polyhouse constructed in the 1980s. Photo: Tony Bertauski

“The college is in a hurricane zone, and it happened that the greenhouse is actually on a fault line, as well,” says Neil Devaney, Territory Sales Manager at Stuppy, who was involved in the project. “Our engineers had to design for a high wind load and follow seismic requirements to make sure the structure was strong enough. While the greenhouse was protected by buildings around it, we still designed it as if it was in open terrain. At Stuppy, we don’t take shortcuts.”

Trident’s new greenhouse needed to be placed on the same footprint as the old polyhouse, although the site was regraded, and a new concrete floor was poured. While the neighboring buildings around it provided some protection, they presented another challenge. “It is a tight site, so we recommended vertical side vents that slide up and down and take up no additional space, instead of vents that open outwards,” Devaney says. Due to the position of the greenhouse, only one end of the greenhouse has ventilation fans, so the side vents are important for airflow. Using natural ventilation instead of fans, when possible, can save money on electricity.

New Systems Save Dollars

Vertical side vents were installed due to the tight spacing between surrounding buildings. Shade curtains provide easy temperature control. New benches and multiple hanging basket rails increase the capacity of the new house. Photo: Neil Devaney

The greenhouse is equipped with Mor-Space benches (see sidebar), and an auto-controlled irrigation system and shade curtains. Shade curtains—also called energy curtains—can provide a 20% to 50% reduction in heating and cooling costs; lowering the “ceiling” of the structure blocks heat from rising so it stays where it is needed near the plants. On hot days, shade curtains keep plants cooler by reflecting sunlight. The controls can be set to operate at certain temperatures, or growers can control the system remotely.

The greenhouse is primarily used by students majoring in greenhouse production, although students taking classes in plant propagation, hydroponics, edible crops, soil science, sustainability and botany use it as well.

“We have a plant sale in the spring, and now we can grow many more hanging baskets with more vertical space and the updated irrigation system,” Bertauski says. An open house is planned for the spring, but he says reaction to the new facility is unfailingly positive. “It’s like night and day,” he says. Anyone who knows what we had and saw the old greenhouse is just really impressed.”

After the site was regraded and a new concrete floor installed, construction begins on the structure. Photo: Tony Bertauski

Working with Stuppy was also a positive experience. “If we had any questions or needed some follow up, Stuppy was extremely responsive,” Bertauski says. “We reached out to Neil primarily, and he was right on top of things if anything unexpected came up. I couldn’t have been happier with the customer service and end result.”

To learn more about upgrading or replacing your greenhouse, contact the experts at Stuppy.