Heat From The Heavens
Solar thermal panels heat Blooming Nursery’s hydronic heating system, revolutionizing the operation’s energy profile.
PROFILE: Grace Dinsdale, founder/owner of Blooming Nursery, Inc., Cornelius, OR
MARKET MIX: “We are strictly wholesale: 85% is finished material for independent garden centers. We also sell liners to growers across the country, bare root material to other growers and finished material to landscapers and re-wholesalers.”
GROWING AREA: 275,000 square feet of covered greenhouse space and 4 acres of outside production yards, in addition to field production.
DELTA T SOLUTIONS HEATING PROFILE:
“We have a hydronic heating system from Delta T in our propagation greenhouses (Harnois Nordiques), and in our transplanting houses (gutter connect Harnois Roll-a-Peak). Most recently we installed a 55,000-square-foot hot water under-floor system in our liner and gallon starting houses, using ½-inch PEX type tubing. We've been dealing with Delta T from the start!”
HISTORY: “I started the nursery in 1982 on what had been my family's dairy farm. We started out to grow hardy perennials and that is still mainly what we do. We now employ about 60 employees year round and use 20-40 seasonal employees depending on the season.”
“We're always looking for more efficient systems, and Delta T sells one of the most efficient heat delivery systems that you can find — under the root zone hot water heating. We have a preponderance of this sort of heating in our heated spaces, and it is nearly all Delta T. We've always enjoyed dealing with Delta T and have taken advantage of Russ Zabel's expertise and sharp troubleshooting skills over the years in designing new systems and in repairing old ones.”
SOLAR SYSTEM: Blooming Nursery recently installed 359 solar panels from Enerworks out of Ontario, Canada, with the help of a 50% state energy tax credit program through the state of Oregon, as well as some small Energy Trust Grants.
“We're looking to control as much of our energy cost as we can. The solar project will enable us to do that. We are still evaluating cost savings, but modeling showed that we would be using less than 5% of the natural gas we were using before, in addition to getting the heat right where we need it; at the root zone.”
solar thermal panels, Dinsdale expects to use less than 5% of the fuel used previously.
If you’re looking into solar panels, Dinsdale says it’s important to evaluate what you need the system to do.
“How warm do you want to keep the benches and how much heat will it take given your heat loss and the normal parameters? It works for us because our climate is fairly mild, and we do not need a tremendous amount of heat to grow the plants we are growing. We're able to make use of a solar system like ours, as it can supply most of our heating needs. If we needed to maintain a higher temp in the greenhouse, or if we had lower outside temps here, it may not have been such a good fit for us.”
ADVICE FOR GROWERS: “Take the time you need to understand your options, but it's very important to get started controlling your energy future. The sooner you install a renewable energy system, the faster it can start contributing to your profitability, and the sooner your heat will become ‘free.’ It does not need to be perfect. And this is not an area where you want to wait for others to work the bugs out. There will always be bugs, but the technology is here, and the time is now. The incentive programs change, so take advantage of your best window and get your system up and going.”
Creating Custom Horticultural Heating & Cooling Solutions For Over 30 Years
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