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Mountain Connection

Creating Near Net Zero Greenhouses


By now, most of us have heard the benefits of growing your own food. You help reduce the environmental consequences in our food system, which accounts for 25% of US carbon emissions. You taste the freshness of food that has not been transported hundreds or thousands of miles in a refrigerated truck before it reaches your table.

While many of us have experienced the benefits of growing our own food by planting a summer garden, eventually October rolls around and we are forced to return to the grocery store and the flown-in produce. Growing food in the off-season is even more difficult in the mountains: At 7,220 feet, the growing season for summer crops, like tomatoes and squash is extremely short. So even when we understand the importance of growing our own food, the possibility of doing so year-round, is greatly inhibited by the our high-altitude homes.

One solution to extend the growing season is to grow in greenhouses. However, most greenhouses, made of all-glass or clear plastic glazing, are extremely inefficient. If you have ever sat in front of a window on a cold winter night, you feel the huge heat losses of glass or plastic. This is why greenhouses use a huge amount of heating to keep warm year-round. CERES greenhouses were designed to create a year-round growing environment which use little to no external energy. We do this by combining green building strategies such as insulation, thermal mass strategically placed windows, to create an attractive back-yard greenhouse designed for our harsh environments, while using the least amount of energy. The result is a year-round growing environment, with warm stable conditions that you and your plants will thrive.

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