March 27, 2018
Among the commercial greenhouses nurturing flowers, plants, fruits, and vegetables across all fifty US states and ten Canadian provinces, energy represents the third highest operational cost. Energy efficiency measures can both reduce these costs and result in increased yields, representing a double win for growers. Efficiency programs, however, are still learning how to help greenhouses achieve these savings; in 2015, only 11 of the 98 CEE program administrator members offered measures specifically for greenhouses. The new CEE Commercial Greenhouse Market Characterization provides program administrators with a valuable new tool to assess greenhouse savings opportunities and capture savings for agricultural customers.
According to CEE analysis, modern greenhouses built using efficient materials and design can use as little as 12 percent of the heating energy of an inefficient existing structure of similar size.
The CEE Market Characterization gives a description of the greenhouse market, from manufacturers to distribution channels to common barriers to uptake, and provides a comprehensive overview of its efficiency opportunities and their savings estimates. CEE members can use the Market Characterization to help develop new program offerings, identify critical players in program delivery, or devise strategies to overcome common market barriers. Greenhouse savings are delivered through a wide variety of efficiency improvements and crop management strategies and require buy-in not only from the grower but from manufacturers and installers; in this highly variable environment, the Market Characterization provides a navigation aid.
At the same time, growers and industry partners can use the Market Characterization to identify opportunities to improve greenhouse performance while significantly reducing costs through collaboration with local efficiency programs. Strategies such as under-bench heating can significantly reduce heating costs while encouraging improved plant growth and product yield, and efficiency improvements in lighting, ventilation and other areas can have similarly significant non-energy benefits.
The Market Characterization is a product of consensus across efficiency programs and market sectors. It was developed with leaders from SoCalGas, Energy Trust of Oregon, Efficiency Vermont, Union Gas, Pacific Gas and Electric, among other CEE members implementing commercial greenhouse program offerings. It also incorporates substantial input from federal actors, including the US Department of Energy, US Department of Agriculture, and Natural Resources Canada. Furthermore, industry partners including the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association and individual manufacturers and greenhouse and farm auditors reviewed and contributed to this report. These critical market influencers help growers identify savings opportunities and design efficient greenhouses; their contribution brings on-the-ground knowledge of grower operations and priorities to the characterization.
By identifying consensus opportunities, the Market Characterization represents the first step in a collaborative process. As program administrators and industry partners work to transform the market for efficient greenhouse design and construction, the next step is closer collaboration to consistently quantify the savings potential for individual measures while establishing credible performance baselines. These baselines will enable program administrators to provide financial, technical or other support for energy improvement activities.
The ultimate goal for program administrators and the industry is to develop greenhouse market transformation strategies that can overcome market barriers, including project seasonality, upfront costs, and distrust from growers for non-industry groups, to deliver credible energy savings to these often underserved customers. Market transformation will require consistent, coordinated efforts from a variety of actors, from program administrators to federal farm programs, manufacturers, trade publications, and farm auditors, all pulling together with a common strategy.
Greenhouse measures offer cost-effective savings and the opportunity to transform a market serving hard-to-reach customers. And whether you’re just beginning to consider a greenhouse program or are planning to expand an existing one, the CEE Market Characterization can orient you in today’s market. Contact CEE today to learn more.