The primary purpose of the greenhouse facility is to serve as a demonstration greenhouse showcasing new technologies in “real world” conditions for economic development. Designed by the Bioresource Engineering Department of Cook College, Rutgers University and built by the County of Burlington’s Board of Chosen Freeholders, the greenhouse has numerous environmental technologies incorporated into its design. These technologies serve to give the greenhouse a soft footprint on the environment. The greenhouse has been operational since 1996. It is one of the largest research greenhouses in the U.S. with over 46,000 square feet of greenhouse production space and 10,000 square feet of support buildings.
Some of the noteworthy features incorporated into the research facility include:
- Sophisticated computerized environmental controls for 5 separate zones that monitor, control, and record the temperature, light level, humidity and carbon dioxide level for each zone while minimizing energy usage
- Heated floors throughout that serve as a thermal storage device and places the heat where it is needed, in the crop
- High Intensity Lighting to supplement natural sunlight and extend the daylegnth during the lower-light periods of the year (September through April)
- Energy curtains that reduce heat loss, during the night, in winter and reduce the cooling loads, during the day, in summer
- High density polyethylene liners under the greenhouse floors to prevent irrigation water from leaving the greenhouse and going into the ground
- Double-wall acrylic sidewalls to reduce heat loss through the sides of the greenhouse
- High pressure fog cooling system
- Dual-fueled boiler for both landfill gas and natural gas
- Landfill gas fired microturbines and waste heat recovery system
- Automated rolling benches or “Dutch trays” that allow the crop to be brought to the workers in the headhouse and also allow for greater space utilization in the greenhouse
- Recirculating hydroponic irrigation system
- Glass and double layer polyethylene roofing in identical sections to allow for comparison of crop production under both covers
Research at the greenhouse focuses on the economic and crop production impacts of the new technologies. The results are then made available for greenhouse growers (and those considering getting into greenhouse production) to evaluate.
For more photos please visit our online photo gallery.