Most Asked Questions
- Ceres provides a precision controlled environment, which leads to higher yields, less crop loss, lower operating costs, better quality product and healthier plants in general.
- Ceres’ designs are the most energy efficient, offering a lower carbon footprint, as well as lower operating costs.
- Ceres uses materials that are durable and of the highest quality, ensuring the longest possible life for the greenhouse
- Ceres cares about the success of the customer, ensuring technical support throughout the build and even long after during greenhouse operations.
- The modular greenhouse design allows for both easy expansion and complete biosecurity.
- Data driven standard kits or customizable designs are options.
- Always innovating in order to deliver the most energy-efficient and productive systems available.
- Emphasis on renewable energy sources and low environmental impact solutions.
This varies by your climate and your desired indoor growing temperatures. (An energy-efficient greenhouse has a much greater payoff if you need a warm, year-round growing environment and / or have very harsh climate). We can provide an energy analysis to calculate your energy savings, or provide more information on energy savings if you send us an email with your location and growing goals.
Check out our new energy calculator to get an approximate on your savings!
Here is a conservative estimate of annual yields based on total square footage of a Ceres greenhouse. This does not include corridors, headhouse space, or mechanical sheds. It is important to keep in mind that growing technique and cultivars grown will affect these projections.
For a Vented Greenhouse: .35 lbs / SF /YR
- 3000 SF GH = 1050 lbs /YR
For our Sealed Sunchamber™: .5 lbs / SF /YR
- 3000 SF GH = 1500 lbs /YR
We provide custom quotes for our greenhouses because every project is slightly different. Several factors influence cost, including:
- Size. Larger greenhouses have a lower cost per sq. ft.
- Whether pursuing a custom design
- Whether you need a building permit (requires stamped structurally engineered plans, which we can include)
- The growing and climate control systems you are adding
Because each greenhouse is slightly different, we work with you to find the best, most cost-effective method of building for your needs.
Once we learn more about your desired greenhouse size and layout as well as your planned growing methods, we are able to provide you with more detailed pricing information. Below is a rough estimate of our pricing for budgetary purposes. Keep in mind that construction costs and labor varies greatly by geographic location and is not estimated by Ceres. Additionally, these numbers do not include interior headhouse buildout, processing equipment or FF&E
- Modular greenhouse facility (at 3,000 sqft)- Starting at US$50/sqft
This is for a base materials kit, which includes: steel frame, insulated metal panels, glazing (identical for a vented vs. sealed structure).
- Complete vented structure- US$100-US$120/sqft
Ceres provided materials, including but not limited to: evaporative cooling, GAHT®, heaters, dehumidifiers, SunSense™ controller, light deprivation system, LED grow lights, irrigation, fertigation, water treatment, mother room and cloning equipment, complete engineering, and construction documentation.
- SunChamber™ sealed grow structure- US$200-US$250/sqft
All Ceres provided materials, including but not limited to: EcoLoop™, SunSense™ controller, light deprivation system, LED grow lights, irrigation, fertigation, water treatment and reclamation, air treatment, mother room and cloning equipment, complete engineering, and construction documentation.
The structure is the same. The main difference is how we heat/ cool/ and dehumidify the structures as well as which glazing we chose to use for light transmission.
You get all the advantages of an indoor grow- total control, predictability, and year round growing with the advantage of full spectrum sunlight for better quality product. And lower operating costs than an indoor grow.
Yes, we provide tours of our residential and commercial greenhouses in the Boulder / Denver area in Colorado. If you are in that area, we would be happy to take you for a tour to see in person how an energy-efficient commercial greenhouse looks and operates. Please contact us to schedule a tour.
Rebates and incentives in the US are typically utility based. Ceres offers a program to work with your utility company to maximize the amount available through these programs for our customers. The basis for these incentives are the building envelope, the environmental controls system, HVAC systems, and grow lighting.
GAHT® System / Climate Battery Questions
“Geothermal” is a broad term meaning heat from the earth. The term applies to many systems, including heat pumps and power plants using hot steam from the earth. GAHT® systems are geothermal too: they use the ‘low-grade’ heat provided by the shallow earth. But, a GAHT® system is NOT the same as a geothermal heat pump, a system commonly used to heat homes and commercial buildings. Heat pumps are more complex systems that use a refrigeration cycle. They circulate a fluid, not air, underground, and use pipes buried very deep — often hundreds of feet — underground. A GAHT® system, in contrast, simply uses a fan and pipe to transfer heat to the soil. GAHT® systems store heat in an insulated volume of soil, usually just 4′ below grade. They are much simpler, less expensive than geothermal heat pumps.
For the most part, yes. Ceres’ Ground to Air Heat Transfer (GAHT®) systems and climate batteries are both ground to air heat exchangers. Over the years, different designers have given the system their own names based on their design. Jerome Osentowski and Michael Thompson of the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI) coined the term Climate Battery. At Ceres, we altered the fan sizes and pipe configuration based on our research and call the system a GAHT® system.
Another similar concept is earth tubes, often called a ground-coupled heat exchanger. These use one-way air flow: they draw air in from outside, pump it underground and then it into the structure (home or greenhouse). A GAHT® system and Climate Battery circulate air in a closed loop: they take air from the greenhouse, pump it underground, and then exhaust it back into the greenhouse.
The cost of a GAHT® system depends on the size of your greenhouse. Typically, residential GAHT® systems (under 1,000 sq. ft.) cost between $2,000-5,000. Larger commercial greenhouses and school greenhouses typically cost $5,000-$15,000 depending on size.
Our GAHT® plans provide detailed installation instructions for building and installing a GAHT® system. Here is an overview of the process:
- Excavate a pit beneath the greenhouse (before greenhouse construction)
- Build and install the underground pipe network in the excavated pit
- Back-fill the pit. Then construct greenhouse. See our residential building plans for help
- Install fans and wiring inside the greenhouse
For our residential greenhouses, we provide plans, materials lists and instructions for installing a GAHT™ system. Armed with these tools, you can install the GAHT™ system yourself or easily hire out the work to a contractor. We also provide phone support to answer any question that may come up along the way.
Yes, we can provide all materials for the GAHT® system, including underground pipes, pipe connections, fans and thermostats. A material list is included in our GAHT® plans and instructions. Some growers prefer to purchase the materials on their own; other prefer to have us order and ship them, and pay all at once. Please contact us for a personalized quote your GAHT® system.
Maximum depth for the pipes underground is 4’ deep. This is below the frost line in most climates, and the level where soil temperatures become a stable and moderate temperature year-round.
In locations where the water tables is higher than 4’, we do not recommend using a standard GAHT® system. Other heat storage methods can be used to make your greenhouse as energy-efficient as possible.
The pipes of a GAHT™ system have small perforations so any water that collects in the pipes underground can drain out into the soil. Water plays in an important role in how GAHT® systems function. During the day, hot humid air is cooled underground. The temperature reaches the dew point and water condensates in the pipes underground. Through the energy transfer of phase changes, this further cools the air. It also helps water the soil underground, where plants roots are. Essentially, the GAHT® system takes water out of the humid greenhouse air and drops it into the soil underground where it’s useful for growth.
Water does not stagnate in the pipes underground and so mold is not a problem in GAHT® systems. In many years of testing systems in a variety of climates, we have not experienced any issues relating to mold.
Yes, GAHT® systems can function in any type of greenhouse. We recommend using an energy-efficient greenhouse, however. It is by far the most cost effective investment when creating a year-round growing environment.
Radon is a radioactive element that seeps into buildings through the soil. Since a GAHT® system circulates air directly through the soil, a common question is whether the GAHT® system adds a radon risk. In areas with high radon levels, this is a possibility and should be taken seriously. However, greenhouses are less dangerous than conventional buildings when it comes to radon. First, you are not in the greenhouse for as much time. Secondly, greenhouses have very high air exchange rates. During much of the year, air (and any radon) will be ventilated outside, and the whole structure will be flushed with fresh air in a matter of minutes. Even if the ventilation system is not on, greenhouses have many more air exchanges than a standard home, mitigating radon build-up. In our tests of GAHT® systems in the Rocky Mountains (an area with high radon levels), the concentration inside the greenhouse was found to be slightly higher than outdoors, but much lower than a dangerous level. By no means is this a comprehensive study, so if concerned, have your soils tested for radon before installing a GAHT® system.
Small GAHT® systems can be off-grid if you install a solar panel system. We do not provide integrated solar panel systems with GAHT® systems. Solar panels should be installed by a local installer in your area, or on your own if you are qualified.
A solar PV system can be a few thousand dollar investment, which greatly depends on the electric demand of your greenhouse. As an example, a 12 x 20 greenhouse normally includes 2 GAHT® fans, each 120 Watts. Along with exhaust fans, we estimate this greenhouse would have an energy usage of 1,000 kWh per year. In a sunny climate like Colorado, this could be powered by a 600 Watt solar panel system. At current prices (roughly $3.00 per installed Watt) this would cost $1,800 to the greenhouse project. Please note this is a rough estimation based on a typical greenhouse and solar PV system. For a more accurate estimate and to discuss the practicality of powering your greenhouse with solar PV, please contact us.
To date we have never installed a house GAHT® system. This does not mean it is not possible. We just have not installed one. Before considering this option there are two concerns you should be aware of:
Radon can be tested. And even if there is radon, it is more significant to watch the rate at which it accumulates. In the worst case scenario, if radon is detected the GAHT® system can always be shut off.
According to studies that were performed by the University of Minnesota on several GAHT® systems where mold was tested no elevated spores were detected. It is important to keep in mind this is one study, and they were conducted on greenhouses and not homes.
When trying to mitigate mold in the home you could use a filtration system with a UV lamp. It is important to look at ducting system- how to get air through the system. We can help with the design of a new system, but it is harder to work with existing ones.
Understanding these precautions is necessary if you decide to try this system on a house. Please consult us if you are thinking of a house GAHT®.
The average peak cooling load is approximately 10 times greater than the average heating load of a Ceres greenhouse. A GAHT® system can cool between 2-10F degrees next to outside temperatures (depending on the season). The GAHT® system can therefore provide cooling, but most likely an additional cooling system will be needed for the hottest of days.
Sealed greenhouses cannot use the GAHT® system alone for cooling the greenhouse in the summer.
On the other hand, the GAHT® system can provide for the heating requirements of a Ceres Greenhouse for most climates, depending on your specific requirements (45-55F degrees) during the coldest parts of the winter.
Our commercial energy-efficient greenhouses are made with galvanized steel frames. Steel is the strongest framing material, and can be insulated in a variety of ways. We combine the frame with insulated metal panels, commonly used in warehouses or large industrial buildings, because of their high insulation values and ease of install.
We offer acrylic, ETFE, or polycarbonate as glazing options. To learn more about which option might be best for you check out our blog on how to choose a glazing material for your greenhouse. Factors in decision making include: budget, location, and what you are growing for (i.e. THC or CBD).
Our typical commercial greenhouse is a shed-style roof with a single slope as the gutter connect design is not optimal for light harvesting. Our modular approach also allows for the unlimited expansion with uninterrupted workflow and biosecurity. Light deprivation curtains also do not function as well with a gutter connect design.
If this does not fit your site, or in cases of very large (over 5,000 sq. ft.) commercial greenhouses, we can employ alternate building styles. In any case, we work with you to create a custom structure that meets your needs, site and budget.
Our HighYield™ Greenhouse Kits use two building depths – 23’ and 30’ – and can be as long as needed. Our custom commercial steel greenhouses are more flexible in sizing and layout, and are typically used for greenhouses with a minimum square footage of 4,000 square feet. We have in-house drafters who can draw any custom building based on your design criteria.
We custom engineer each structure according to your site’s snow and wind loads. This streamlines the building permit process, which we can also help with. We have designed greenhouses with snow loads of up to 85 lbs/square foot, and with wind loads of up to 135 mpg.
Building a commercial steel greenhouse like our HighYield™ Greenhouse Kits requires some construction experience. A skilled crew of 3 with a scissor lift can put up the steel frame, IMPs, and glazing. We recommend specialists for concrete work, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, etc.
While we do not build the greenhouses ourselves, we do have a dedicated building crew that can offer remote support. We also offer site visits, with adequate notice, that can help train crews. Contact us for more info.
Yes, we offer our own renewable heating/cooling system, as well as other climate control and growing systems.
Growing systems are customized according to growers’ needs, and specified after a consultation. Every grow system has its merits. It’s important to consider available labor and knowledge when selecting a grow system. Check local laws and regulations for compliance.
Ceres sizes, designs and sources:
- Grow systems
- Light deprivation systems
- Supplemental lighting, automated shade systems
- Climate control and HVAC equipment
- Monitoring systems
Recouping the greenhouse investment depends on a multitude of factors including but not limited to: operational costs, strain of cannabis/hemp (can affect yield and market value), and market demand. The chosen grow system will also impact the length of grow time, and should therefore be considered.
The plant count depends entirely on the grow method and strain. We have seen great results in our greenhouses with more space for the plants. The typical setup can range anywhere between 1 sqft and 16 sqft per plant.
Rolling benches significantly increase the efficiency of canopy space, increasing potential canopy by up to 35%.
Assuming a 3000 sqft greenhouse will have 788 sqft of fixed perimeter aisles. Rolling benches provide 2212 sqft of dedicated canopy.
With rolling benches, you can fit 221(10sqft) plants. Without rolling benches there is only 1660 sqft of canopy, because you will need at least 552 sqft of aisles to access plants the total plant count drops to 166.
Yes, we source growing systems and equipment according to your needs. We work directly with systems suppliers to ensure that growing systems integrate seamlessly with the greenhouse structure.
We also provide:
The environmental control systems and the controllers used will help determine the quality of the products grown. Keep in mind that the complexity of the control system should match the complexity of the environmental control solutions used.
In sophisticated greenhouses with high-end environmental control solutions for high-value cannabis/hemp the more sophisticated control systems might be the better choice. Ceres offers data analysis packages to help optimize yields and profits. These systems might range in cost from $3-$10/sqft.
Easy shipping anywhere in the US and Canada. If you are elsewhere please contact us for a shipping cost estimate.
You can install a HighYield™ Kit yourself, or hire installation out to a local contractor. You can also opt to have a Ceres construction supervisor oversee the construction process and direct your building crew.
Because each greenhouse is slightly different – tailored for your climate and growing goals—we provide custom quotes for all our energy-efficient commercial greenhouses.
Once we learn more about your desired greenhouse size and layout as well as your planned growing methods, we are able to provide you with more detailed pricing information. Below you will find rough estimates provided for budgetary purposes:
- US$35-US$45/sqft for a 3,000 sqft modular greenhouse facility and above= Base materials kit, includes steel frame, insulated metal panels, glazing (identical for a vented vs. sealed structure)
- US$100-US$150/SF = Complete vented structure (stamped drawings, materials, equipment + construction)
- US$230-US$280/SF = Complete sealed structure (stamped drawings, materials, equipment + construction
Ceres Greenhouses are modular by design, allowing for both greenhouses and headhouses (indoor areas for plant processing, administrative work, storage, etc.) to be expanded at a later time. Corridor-connected designs are better suited for expansion, as construction doesn’t disrupt existing operations.
If you are considering expanding the greenhouses or headhouses it is advisable to let the Ceres Engineers know ahead of time. This allows our engineers to design and prepare everything from the onset, allowing the client to save time and money when the time for expansion comes.
Below is a conservative estimate for yields in a sealed SunChamber™ facility for a year (not including corridors, headhouse space, or mechanical sheds). Additionally, growing technique and cultivars grown will affect yield.
- >60g / SF / harvest of plant canopy
- 4000 SF GH has about 3000 SF of plant canopy
- 3000 SF GH = 2000 lbs / YR
Yes. Expansion is possible just as every other Ceres facility. The EcoLoop™ is also modular, so each greenhouse has its own EcoLoop™. If you are thinking about future expansion it is advisable to notify Ceres from the onset so that our engineers can plan for sizing for full expansion for water systems, fertigation, and electrical. We do the engineering for the full build from the beginning, that way we never have to backtrack if there is a decision to expand, saving time and money.
The SunChamber™ requires three-phase power in order to power some of the systems and to save power consumption. It is possible to run this system off-grid and the Ceres team will be able to help with the design of the power supply system.
Not at this time. The Ceres SunSense™ Controller will only be available for Ceres greenhouses.
The Ceres SunSense Controller is a custom controller designed specifically for the SunChamber/EcoLoop™ system. The controller regulates the temperature and humidity in each greenhouse based on achieving the best growing conditions (i.e VPD) with minimal energy input.
Enthalpy, is a measure of energy of a specific room or more accurately the air in that room. Enthalpy based controllers are programmed to control the temperature/RH not based on what is the easiest way to achieve a specific climate goal, but rather by using the path with the lowest enthalpy. For example, if the room is too hot and dry, a conventional controller might ask the heat pump to jump into action to reduce the temperature. But an enthalpy controller might call for a fogging system to evaporate the water, reducing the temperature and increasing the relative humidity without using electricity for the heat pump.
Predictive controllers look at the weather forecast and will select the most efficient mode of operation considering the weather to come. For example: After several days of intense sunshine the weather is expected to cool down significantly and more clouds are expected. A predictive controller will let the ground sourced water temperature creep up during the warm/sunny phase so that the stored heat in the ground can be used to heat the greenhouse.
Up to 15 different stages per growth cycle can be chosen. Each stage length can be set in the calendar so the user can set for all 15, or just 1.
Yes, your stages are saved to a specific strain so you can return to the strain recipe when needed.
What is the difference between using a single set point and the Ceres SunSense™ Controller VPD set point?
Home climate controllers are usually programmed to run the home A/C system towards a single set-point. E.g. 70F, or 75%RH. This often ends in higher energy expenditure due to inefficient operation, longer equipment run times, and equipment “fighting” each other (e.g. if a heater and a fogging system are running, the fogging will add humidity and also cool the environment while the heater fights to heat the environment).
The Ceres SunSense™ Controller is set to set the climate in any grow room according to a VPD (vapor pressure difference) range. VPD ranges determine if a plant is growing in the ‘right’ environment (e.g. from the plant perspective, 80F with 75%Rh are equal to 76F and 70%RH). This allows us to choose the set point to ensure the equipment is never run inefficiently.
Yes, the SunSense™ Controller comes with a set of automated needle point valves and CO2 sensors in each grow room to control CO2 levels.
Can the SunSense™ Controller protect the occupants of the greenhouse complex from excessive CO2 levels?
Yes, the SunSense™ Controller comes standard with horns, strobes and signage required by regulation to warn any person in the building. In case of critical CO2 concentration, the controller will initiate automated venting until the CO2 concentration is back in the safe concentration range.
The controller saves money by:
- Reducing the peak load demand, therefore reducing the yearly utility rate significantly
- Running the equipment only when it is needed
- Reduced labor costs through automation of all equipment
- Switching of non essential equipment in case of an emergency/power outage, therefore reducing size of electrical equipment such as backup generator, switch gear, electrical panels and lots of wiring. Installation cost savings of these measures alone will pay for more than the cost of the controller.
- Monitoring the load demands of every significant piece of equipment, therefore allowing targeted energy saving measures
As a standard, each greenhouse comes with:
- 2 Temp/RH/CO2 sensors
- 1 Leaf temp sensor
- 3 light sensors (usually east/west/center)
Each SunChamber complex comes with:
- 1 PAR light sensor
- EcoLoop™ Monitoring
- 1 Stem diameter sensors (incl separate analysis package) for 1 year
- 1 Sap flow measurement device (incl separate analysis package) for 1 year
Each grow room in the headhouse:
- 1 Temp/RH/CO2 sensors
Each other room:
- Temperature sensor
The customer owns their data forever. However, we do require access to it for facility optimization. Data sets will not be shared with or viewed by other customers.
Data is stored on-site and on a server in our office accessible by the cloud at any time. This will protect from loss of data.
The dashboard allows the owner to set levels of access to employees, so you control who sees your data.
The dashboard allows the owner to set levels of access to employees, so you control who can change stage settings.
Data can be accessed via the SkySpark page on our Controls Dashboard, which links you to your facilities SkySpark Dashboard. From there, the customer can see all historical data from each sensor, equipment run times and operational modes, power consumption, etc.
The dashboard shows the details of your facility operations. This includes live sensor data, current operational modes of all of your equipment, facility power consumption, local forecast, a page for recipe development, and links to your fertigation controls (if applicable) and SkySpark dashboard.
The dashboard’s pictures and equipment will be customized to your facility, but we do not change the overall format/layout of our dashboard.
Ceres offers a yearly data analytics package, where the Ceres’ data team will work with you to optimize your facility operations and maximize your crop yield. Please contact us for more information.
The Ceres Data Package cadence typically looks as follows: Our data team will analyze your data in preparation for a monthly meeting with your team where we will explain the trends we see and make recommendations on how to change your sequence of operations. Once agreed upon, we will make the changes and push the software to your system. This cadence is tailored to fit your team’s availability and needs.
We use a 4 step process to minimize operational cost and maximize crop yield. Our 4 steps focus on peak load avoidance, optimizing EcoLoop™ set point selection for the most efficient operational modes, balancing CO2, fertigation, light and climate control to best fit your exterior climate, and developing strain-specific recipes tailored to each crop/strain.
There are too many variables to give an easy answer to this question. The top two are:
- What are you trying to grow, or what indoor temperatures do you want to maintain?
- What are you typical outdoor temperatures in the winter?
Once we have that information, we can give you a ballpark estimate of how often heat will be required for your situation. For a more accurate estimate and cost projections, you can take advantage of our consulting services.
The Ceres EcoLoop™ geothermal system utilizes earth’s steady temperature to provide a sustainable and year round source of heat, greatly reducing energy costs. One can expect 40% savings compared to a standard HVAC system.
Finally, it is important to note that an insulated greenhouse, passive solar greenhouse design, and systems like a GAHT® system, which take advantage of free solar energy, keep the heating requirement to a minimum. Most growers in North America use back-up heating sparingly in the winter, and rely on energy-efficient greenhouse design for most of the year.
This varies greatly by location, and what you are trying to grow. In areas with mild winters, passive solar greenhouses can grow year-round without any back-up heating. However, to grow a wider variety of crops, in most cold climates an energy-efficient greenhouse will require some back-up heating. This is usually turned on during a few very cold nights a year — the extreme cold snaps — when a GAHTTM system.
Our innovative geothermal Ecoloop™ System can provide all of the heating, cooling, and dehumidification for your greenhouse. Please contact us for more information on the Ecoloop™.
It depends. Is your greenhouse vented or sealed? Vented requires less energy to run heating/ cooling. Test our new energy calculator to see how much energy you might consume with a sealed system. Or read about the differences between vented versus sealed here.
You can also build a completely passive solar greenhouse – one that does not use any electrical components. However, if you are planning on growing for commercial purposes, we would recommend using electricity.
It depends on the size of your greenhouse, the systems you are using, types of lights, and whether you are using extraction equipment. A single sealed greenhouse without extraction would use approximately 700 amps.
Our greenhouses utilize passive solar design, called ‘solar greenhouses’ for short. Passive solar greenhouses are designed to maximize heating from the sun, to create an efficient self-sustaining year-round growing environment. While they can be powered by a solar PV (solar panels), Standard models do not include solar panels (photovoltaic systems). We can help you integrate solar panels into your design and recommend putting them on the headhouse to not interfere with greenhouse design and shading. A solar design will also depend on your power needs and how much power you want to offset. Please reach out to inquire about potential rebates and financing.
Sustainability and energy efficiency are pillars of our design philosophy. We are happy to explore whether this is a potential to integrate into your design however it is site specific and also considered custom work.
At Ceres we focus on building the most energy-efficient commercial greenhouses as possible. Our primary HVAC system, known as the EcoLoop™ system offers precision temperature, humidity, and vapor pressure differential control.
We are well-known for our GAHT® system, a Ceres designed ground to air heat exchanger, which we have designed for many years all over the world. Finally, by using passive solar greenhouse design principles we minimize the heating / cooling load as much as possible, making our commercial greenhouses much easier to regulate and much more cost-effective versus traditional greenhouses. We also integrate back-up heating, cooling and ventilation systems as needed.
Yes. We source growing systems and equipment from high-quality suppliers, according to your needs. These include:
- Hydroponic and aquaponic growing systems
- Black out / light deprivation systems
- Shade systems
- Irrigation systems
You can see some of the companies we work with on our partners page. We work directly with suppliers to ensure that growing systems integrate seamlessly with the greenhouse structure, handling all the planning and details for you.
Our whole systems approach to design ensures that all of the systems you need for your grow operation are integrated into the design process.
It depends on what you are growing the hemp for. If you need to flower the plants inside the greenhouse, then light deprivation is needed. This includes breeding and growing for flower. If you are only using the greenhouse to house mothers, cut clones, or start seeds, then light deprivation is not needed as these are all vegetative growth environments requiring 18 hours of light per day minimum.
Sometimes, permitting counties do not allow lights to run in a greenhouse when its dark out, so if you do need to maintain 18 hours of light in your greenhouse throughout the winter, then light deprivation may be necessary to hold light inside the greenhouse.
The choice of environmental control systems and the controllers will determine the quality of the products that are grown. It is important to keep in mind that the complexity of the control system needs to match the complexity and variety of environmental control solutions used.
In sophisticated greenhouses with high end environmental control solutions for high value cannabis/hemp the most sophisticated control system might be the best choice. These greenhouse can be controlled from anywhere. Ceres offers comprehensive data analysis packages to optimize yields and profits. These systems can range in cost from $3-$10/sqft.
EcoLoop™ Geothermal System
The EcoLoop™ system is engineered for each client’s specific requirements. Cost is calculated based on such factors as: different climate zones, size of grow operations, etc. The EcoLoop™ has been designed as an affordable geothermal system while still delivering efficient high performance. Payback on this system is roughly one year. Material costs for installation range from approximately $50-65/sqft. The EcoLoop™ system may qualify for a multitude of rebates because of it’s energy efficiency rating.
The EcoLoop™ has been optimized for maximum efficiency and performance using specific controls, operating parameters, and smart responses to changing conditions in a Ceres greenhouse. Ceres is only installing the EcoLoop™ in Ceres Greenhouses through the end of 2020.
Yes, the EcoLoop™ system can be run using renewable sources of electricity. The EcoLoop™’s design reduces the peak demand load as compared to other HVAC options, helping reduce the overall size of the energy generation system.
Design & Construction
A year-round solar greenhouse needs access to light particularly in the winter months. Areas that allow sufficient year-round light, with minimal shading in the winter are best. More of our recommendations are given in our blogs on the topic:
- Residential Greenhouses: Solar Greenhouse Basics: Orientation & Siting
- Commercial and educational greenhouses: Siting a Commercial Greenhouse
Change Orders? Cost overruns? How much over the contract might I have to pay? Can I make changes without incurring additional costs?
We follow a strict process of preliminary design, design development, engineering and construction documents, all the way to materials orders and project management in order to narrow down the scope in steps and avoid big surprises. Change orders can happen in the process, for which we suggest to put a budget of 10% to 20% aside at the beginning of the project. Every step of the process requires a signature and subsequent changes require approval. A change order might be for $0, a positive or a negative amount.
From conceptual design to operation, commercial greenhouse facilities can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. This process includes design, engineering, material orders, construction and commissioning. Additionally, there are many project-specific variables such as site approval, building permit, facility size, local building season, headhouse buildout, custom features, etc. These all affect the timetable for the project, though not all factors are a requirement for each project and thus timelines are developed for each specific project.
Yes. This is considered custom work and will be reflected in the cost. The ability to attach to an existing structure will be dependent on specifics related to the existing structure. It is, however, easier to attach to a corridor than an actual greenhouse.
We opt not to design in this fashion as it creates challenges in humidity management.
Yes it is possible, but it will cost more. The insulated metal panels (IMPs) we use have similar R value to the earth so building into a sloping hill will not necessarily increase the insulation value. Building the retaining wall will also add an additional cost.
Many solar greenhouse designers recommend using a roof angle that is perpendicular to the angle of the sun in the winter. While this does indeed maximize light transmission in the winter, the effect of a lower angle is not severe. We explain this relationship much further in our blog, Choosing the Best Roof Angle for your Greenhouse. Furthermore, there are a few logistical challenges to creating very steep pitch — you cannot use glass view windows on the south; it can reduce head room or create a awkwardly tall greenhouse. Due to these pros and cons, most of our residential growers are built with a shed-style roof. If you have a need for a steeply pitched roof, just ask us about our custom greenhouse design services.
Yes. Ceres greenhouses can be designed to be “off-the-grid” through the use of PV panels and batteries in order to create and store electricity for later use. It is advisable to start with a greenhouse system that has lower energy consumption to begin with in order to reduce the investment and maintenance costs of the energy creation systems (i.e. PV panels). Propane and diesel generators are also options to supplement heating, cooling, or any other electrical needs.
When an electric grid connection is possible it is recommended to create a net-zero greenhouse, using PV panels to create electricity. That electricity is used to feed the grid at times when it is needed (i.e. peak mid-day in the summer), and deliver electricity to itself when it is needed most (during the winter and at night). This is a great way to maximize greenhouse performance while minimizing environmental impact.
A Ceres sealed greenhouse will work for any climate. The Ceres Sunchamber™ is our recommended option. The Sunchamber™ allows for precise control over the environment and all systems involved.
A vented greenhouse may also be possible. This option will work to grow in for some of the year, but the growing season will depend on your site location, and the environmental control systems chosen.
The color choice and wall & roof thickness of the insulated metal panels can both have an impact on your building’s heat gain and retention. We recommend lighter colors and thinner walls in hotter climates to minimize the heat gain. The thickness can range from 2.5”-6”, which has a range of R-20 to R-48.
A Ceres greenhouse roof consists of trusses running north/south and purlins connecting the trusses that run east/west for stability. Note that both truss spacing and purlin layout can vary based on building type (single slope or gable) and wind, snow, and seismic loads. First, a track is installed on the roof trusses/purlins, followed by the glazing (polycarbonate, acrylic, or ETFE), and then a top track. Finally, the east, west, and north edges of the glazed portion of the roof are covered with paint matched flashing.
We design our greenhouses with a 2’ insulated knee wall under the south wall glazing. Snow will slide off the roof during and after snowstorms, so we have designed an insulated wall where the snow can accumulate.
Yes. The next question is whether to use gravel or concrete slab. We recommend a slab with a drain because it is easier to clean.
While it is not necessary to have concrete floors, it is highly recommended.
A concrete slab is an essential part of the clean room strategy. Additionally, painting the concrete with white epoxy will not only increase light reflectivity in the greenhouse, but will also make it easier to sanitize after each harvest.