Growing Efficiency in Greenhouses

Tobacco plants in a greenhouse

Tobacco plants in a hydroponic greenhouse. Photo by Roger Winstead.

NC State Energy Management has partnered with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) on an energy efficiency project in the greenhouses at Headhouse Unit 3 off Method Road, resulting in decreased energy use and emissions.

The installation of 486 LED Hi-Top grow lights have replaced legacy metal halide lighting that had been in use for more than 20 years. The LED lights are up to 60% more efficient, and this upgrade is expected to save nearly $130,000 in annual electric utility costs while reducing campus emissions by 1,193 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) equivalent.

The new LED grow lights are used year-round to provide the sole source or supplemental light intensities the plants need to grow while keeping energy costs down. The project is made possible through advancements in horticultural lighting, control system upgrades and innovations in the spectral science field that create significant opportunities for more efficient, economical and sustainable growing operations — particularly during winter months where auxiliary lighting is heavily used. 

NC State Energy Management is committed to reducing energy consumption on campus and our carbon footprint. Specialized lighting for plant growth becomes a significant target for energy savings applications by incorporating custom spectral and efficient LED technology that is safe for plant life while using less energy.

Energy Management welcomes inquiries from the campus community about other opportunities for greenhouse lighting upgrades, as well as potential projects to reduce energy and emissions on campus. Learn more at https://sustainability.ncsu.edu/energy-management.

These metal halide lights that were in use for more than 20 years have been replaced to improve energy efficiency on campus.

The CALS greenhouses are now lit with LED Hi-Top 530 HO grow lights.

This post was originally published in Sustainability News.