Controlled Environment Agriculture


A 'CEA' greenhouse facility here in the Northeast of the United States that operates year-round uses a lot of energy. Our research program is built around the idea that small greenhouses (~1/4 acre, 11,000 square feet) will grow a single crop and provide that item of produce to the surrounding area. The greenhouse facility will be high-tech and will provide consistent production of the intended crop 365 days per year. This is only possible if the facility has the ability to control the total amount of light that is given to the crop each day. The control of light is only possible with both supplemental lighting and movable shade.

Greenhouse Energy Model (GEM)

Optimum energy management is central to successful CEA operations, for CEA depends greatly on energy inputs – electrical as well as thermal. The purpose of the GEM software program is to provide a user‐friendly, flexible, computerized tool to assist existing and potential greenhouse operators to design and control CEA greenhouses, optimally, based on local climate, greenhouse physical characteristics, energy rate schedules, and the crop needs. Other possible users include students, commercial and private investors, utility engineers, land‐use planners, and governmental agencies.

Energy Audit for CEA Greenhouse

This 29 page report details the energy used by and the costs associated with those utilities (electricity and natural gas) for the Commercial Demonstration Facility (now Finger Lakes Fresh Greenhouse) from the period of January 1999 to January 2003. Many changes to the facility have been made since the report was written, but it provides a real snapshot of the energy used in a high-tech and energy intensive CEA facility.

Energy for Locally Produced vs. Imported

This 221 page report investigates the energy involved in the production of five crops (Iceberg Lettuce, Spinach, Strawberry, Tomato and Apple) grown either in California in a field or in New York either in a field or a greenhouse. Much effort was spent gathering consumption, import, export, and production data for the above-mentioned crops. This report contains a wealth of information about the energy that is used in CEA style greenhouse operations as well as the energy used to grow crops in the traditional outdoor fashion. The report draws comparisons about the amount of energy needed to grow the crops in the field elsewhere (outside NY) and shipping it versus growing the same crops in New York. Energy requirements for CEA greenhouse production of crops out of season may be found in this report and used to evaluate the carbon footprint created by such a facility.