Josh Holleb, Ceres Greenhouse Solutions:

“Our goal was to design much more energy-efficient greenhouses than the traditional designs”

“How can we do this using less energy and water while maximizing the yields and profits for the grower? It was our goal to figure this out when we started 11 years ago. Now, we are seeing a great demand for our energy-efficient solutions,” says Josh Holleb, Systems Integration Specialist at Ceres Greenhouse Solutions. When the company started, cannabis legalization was not something they focused on. Ceres was selling to residential hobby growers and commercial veggie farmers. Yet ever since legalization, cannabis growers have had much interest in Ceres’ greenhouses as well. But in recent years, energy has been a topic concerning all growers. “Now that the cost of natural gas has increased, there has been a great demand across European growers for our greenhouses and HVAC systems, as we rely on electricity for the most part.”

Before the design
Before even getting to the cultivation aspect, Holleb explains that there are many things a grower should consider when they start thinking about building a growing facility. “We don’t sell a piecemeal solution, we sell a holistic solution. We want to work with the client to ensure that all the aspects of their greenhouse work well together and that the grower’s goal is being achieved. Therefore, the grower needs to have a clear view of what they want the final outcome to be. What quality and consistency are you aiming for, and what is the yield you want to achieve?” Once that is established, it is important to look at the location. “What kind of power is available, what is the exterior climate, are there extreme weather events possible, is there a labor force nearby? These are important questions to consider, and we use this information to design a greenhouse that perfectly suits the client’s needs.”

Why Ceres costs more upfront
While a grower can have many desires and needs for their prospective greenhouse, the cost will oftentimes be the deciding factor when it comes to making the final choice. Over the years, Ceres Greenhouses has had some feedback that their greenhouses are expensive. “Oftentimes, people will think they want a 200 square meter greenhouse, for example, that produces a certain amount of tomatoes. While they might think that a Ceres greenhouse is expensive for 200 square meters, we can justify the price by explaining that it will give them twice the amount of tomatoes they wanted,” says Holleb. “Moreover, it’s a sealed building that we design according to the particular exterior climate. As a result, you won’t risk losing a crop due to inclement weather. Our greenhouses ensure that growers are getting the input they need while providing consistent yields throughout the year.”

While it may seem tempting to save your money and go for more affordable options, this might turn out to actually become more expensive in the end. “As they are trying to save money, sometimes growers will buy a cheap building and select affordable components themselves. Putting it together, they will most likely start to notice issues immediately. They can’t hit the environmental parameters they need, and they might even be fogging and dehumidifying at the same time if the controller only works well for one of the two systems. Losing these efficiencies means that it becomes more expensive to go that route, especially when it leads to such high power costs.” Therefore, the Ceres Greenhouse Solutions team does things differently. “We put a lot of time into the design and engineering, which not everyone has the patience for. While the capital expenditure can be a little more expensive, the operational costs will be significantly lower in the long run.”

90% water efficiency
One of Ceres’ latest solutions for cannabis growers is the SunChamber™, a highly insulated greenhouse with high light transmissive glazing. The greenhouse is sealed and includes the EcoLoop™ geothermal HVAC system, a renewable energy source that utilizes the earth’s temperature to create a precise climate inside the greenhouse. The SunSense™ automated controller system monitors and optimizes environmental conditions, enabling growers to lower operating costs, improve product quality, and increase yields. While the basis of the design is always similar, the greenhouse is customized according to the grower’s needs.

According to Holleb, another major benefit of the SunChamber™ is the water reclamation. “Because there is no venting, almost all of the water that we put into the plants transpires. We dehumidify the greenhouse space and recapture and reuse all of that water, making the greenhouse about 90% water-efficient. While water is not a high-cost item right now, it will become more and more important over time. Being able to use 90% less water and thus being much less vulnerable to drought is a major benefit for growers. All of these aspects add to yield consistency over time, which is highly necessary for a grower.”

For more information:
Ceres Greenhouse Solutions

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