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Greenhouse software tool helps growers calculate light distribution of growing facility

Cerise365+GreenHouseDesigner is a software tool developed specifically for horticultural lighting design, including greenhouses, polytunnels, vertical farms, and plant factories. It is a web-based Software as a Service (“SaaS”) subscription application accessible on any desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

GreenHouseDesigner was designed with the needs of horticulturalists, farmers, greenhouse manufacturers, lighting designers, and engineers firmly in mind. It does not require any computer-aided drafting (CAD) experience; the user need only enter basic building dimensions and material properties for the program to generate detailed physical models and calculate the distribution of light within them.

GreenHouseDesigner also serves the needs of utility companies such as BC Hydro, whose $500,000 LED Horticultural Lighting Incentive program aims to minimize the energy requirements of greenhouses and vertical farms.

Greenhouse CAD model (automatically generated).

GreenHouseDesigner is derived from SunTracker Technologies’ Cerise365 lighting design software, which has powered industry-standard architectural lighting design programs since 1999. Its lighting calculations have been thoroughly validated over two decades of use by tens of thousands of users.

Greenhouses and polytunnels
GreenHouseDesigner is the only lighting design software available that accurately calculates the spatial distribution of daylight inside greenhouse and polytunnels.

Given a geographic location and building orientation, GreenHouseDesigner can predict the monthly average Daily Light Integral (DLI) distribution due to daylight within a greenhouse or polytunnel during the design stage. Using patented algorithms, the available daylight is determined on an hourly basis over a full year from a combination of historical weather records and weather satellite data.

Daylight – Monthly average DLI distribution.

GreenHouseDesigner can also predict the photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) distribution due to supplemental electric lighting within a greenhouse. With this information, it is possible to determine how much supplemental lighting will be required for a project, calculate the effectiveness of sunshades and light abatement screens, estimate electrical power requirements for the lighting on a per-month basis, plan for utility demand pricing for electricity, and more.

Supplemental electric lighting – PPFD distribution.

Like architectural lighting design software, GreenHouseDesigner accurately models the light distributions of commercial luminaires, ensuring that DesignLights Consortium Qualified Products List-approved horticultural luminaires can be compared fairly and accurately.

Vertical farms and plant factories
In the face of climate change and food insecurity, vertical farms and plant farms are proving to be increasingly viable alternatives to open-field farming and greenhouses. GreenHouseDesigner™ models these facilities with a focus on healthy crops and energy efficiency.

Vertical farm with stacked trays.

Roughly one-quarter of the electrical power required to operate vertical farms and plant factories is consumed by the lighting, and so it is critical to ensure that not only do the plants receive adequate PPFD and DLI that is evenly distributed across the plant canopy, but that as little light as possible spills onto the adjacent aisles and therefore wasted.

Vertical farm tray – PPFD distribution.

Finally, GreenHouseDesigner provides users with comprehensive reports for their projects.

For more information:
Shirley Lang, Owner
HelioSol Software Solutions
licensing@heliosolsoft.com
www.heliosolsoft.com 

SunTracker Technologies
www.suntrackertech.com


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