A greenhouse has long been used to control conditions for cultivating crops. In fact, evidence suggests that as far back as Roman times, environmentally-controlled areas were used to help nurture plants. The market for greenhouses is huge today. As well as a range of styles and sizes available for the domestic gardener, commercial use of greenhouses is big business for many countries, with a range of sophisticated features and equipment employed to control the temperature and conditions of the greenhouse.
How A Greenhouse Is Used
What role does a greenhouse play in the environment, however? As the debate has raged in recent years about causes of environmental adversity, this is one question that many people may have pondered. The answer is fairly complex, however, as a lot really depends upon how the greenhouse is used.
For domestic purposes, a greenhouse can be used to grow a range of fruit and vegetables for personal consumption. In such a situation, the grower is not relying on buying produce from the supermarket, which may have been shipped in from overseas. Lack of air miles and less reliance on the use of harmful chemicals used in mass production means that domestic use of a greenhouse certainly can have positive benefits to the planet.
What is less certain, however, is the exact impact a commercial greenhouse has on the environment. In many instances and depending on the location, large greenhouses used for mass crops will require equipment that uses energy to keep the greenhouses at the right temperature, all year round. In hot summers, a greenhouse will need to be kept cool, whilst in cold winters, heating will be required to keep the crops from perishing. It is estimated that around 80% of the energy used for commercial greenhouses goes on heating alone and add on top of this the need for water and chemicals to control any pest infestation and fungal infections, then it is not hard to see why people may query what impact a greenhouse might have on the environment.
The good news is that greenhouse growers are increasingly finding ways to improve techniques and procedures that are less reliant on using the Earth’s scarce resources for controlling the conditions of a greenhouse. As technology advances and commercial greenhouse users seek ways to reduce their energy costs, whilst also looking at ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, more and more growers will employ sophisticated innovations.
Some of the ideas already in place for a greener greenhouse include the use of a removable film to block infrared light from the sun from overheating the plants, whilst allowing visible light to pass through to nourish them. Greenhouses have also been developed that make the most of the sun’s energy and convert this to electricity, using a curved roof to act like a magnifying glass. Carbon dioxide enrichment is also a popular concept in a modern greenhouse and is now widespread in some areas. For instance, a commercial grower in the UK consumes the waste heat and carbon dioxide emitted from a nearby factory which would otherwise be released in the atmosphere whilst using it to nourish its crops without having to rely on other heat sources.