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How to make your greenhouse greener this summer

Venlo-style greenhouses in British Columbia, Canada
With summer on the way, we’ve got five tips to ensure your greenhouse or refrigerated warehouse runs as efficiently as possible this year.

Five energy-saving tips for greenhouses and refrigerated warehouses

If you're managing a greenhouse facility and use lighting, you'll be very familiar with energy costs – especially after such a long winter. You might also be aware that LED horticultural lighting has become a much more feasible option in the last couple of years, but maybe you're not quite ready to make the leap just yet.

And if you're managing a refrigerated warehouse, you'll no doubt be wanting to minimize your cooling costs over the summer, especially if B.C. faces another heat dome.

BC Hydro engineer David Rogers, a world expert in hydroponics with horticultural lighting experience, has got five tips to help you save.

1. Avoid unnecessary demand charges

Greenhouses don't require lighting over the summer, so make sure that your lighting is always off during this period. While this sounds super obvious, there's more to it than you might expect.

That's because if someone turns your greenhouse lighting system on by accident – or for just a very short period – it'll impact your demand charges and you'll be charged the full electrical demand rate as if you'd left the lights on for the whole month.

2. Check your lighting controls

With your lighting off during the summer, you've got the perfect opportunity to see if you can improve your lighting controls system. Are there ways you might optimize your lighting controls to reduce your energy costs while improving your crop production and quality?

3. Clean or replace your HPS reflectors

Did you know that every 1% of light loss can reduce crop production by 1%? So getting your HPS reflectors replaced or cleaned in spring or early summer is critical.

While your lights might look perfectly bright, HPS reflectors can account for up to 15% loss in luminaire light output. Cleaning them may increase HPS light output by about 5-6%, which can also help to reduce lighting costs and improve crop production.

4. Get help from NASA to keep your warehouse cool

Believe it or not, the same principle behind the heat reflective technology developed by NASA scientists to protect space missions on re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere is now available for your refrigerated warehouse roof. Light-coloured roofing materials with a high reflectance (known as high albedo) can reflect up to 85 percent of incident solar radiation, while conventional surfaces may reflect only 20 percent. And when you consider that on a sunny day, the surface of a conventional roof can reach 65°C / 150°F, it's easy to see the difference this could make to your refrigerated warehouse's HVAC performance.

There are many solar-reflective products available for different kinds of facilities, so do some research and consider talking to a specialist from the BC Hydro Alliance of Energy Professionals.

5. Check your warehouse temperatures

Along with lighting controls, in a refrigerated warehouse, you should also keep a close eye on your temperature settings to make sure you're not over-cooling your facility. Check this regularly and adjust whenever necessary.

How can we help your business be more efficient?

To find out more about increasing efficiency in your greenhouse or refrigerated warehouse, contact your Key Account Manager or Regional Energy Manager, or call our Business Helpdesk at 604 522 4713 in the Lower Mainland or 1 866 522 4713 elsewhere in B.C.