WSU CAHNRS Greenhouse Expansion
Washington State University’s plant science research is at the heart of some of our biggest issues as a society: responding to climate change, growing enough food and the challenges of protecting that food from pests and pathogens. WSU’s endeavor to address these issues stems from its land-grant heritage and tradition of service to society.
In addition to employing top scientists and breeders, a critical part of addressing these regionally and globally significant issues is having adequate research facilities. Currently, WSU-Pullman’s long-standing reputation for leading agricultural research is being challenged by dated infrastructure of greenhouses and controlled environments, some of which are over 50 years old.
WSU Pullman currently houses 50,000 square feet of greenhouse space. However, current and projected research needs require that the university increase the amount of plant growth space and incorporate current technology into its facilities. In 2013 the Washington State Legislature funded and authorized WSU to proceed with a two-phased development plan that would increase WSU’s research greenhouse space to allow expanding research programs to grow more plants. The new facilities will serve many departments, including the Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Horticulture, Entomology, Plant Pathology, and the Institute of Biological Chemistry. The US Department of Agriculture will also use these facilities. Expanding WSU’s plant science research with state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities will ensure WSU’s adherence to its mission to advance, extend and apply knowledge to benefit all areas related to agriculture. The facilities will enable cutting-edge research into a wide array of possibilities that could be used to help the diverse cropping and production systems used in the state grow more and better quality products.
The planned buildings will complement the existing Wheat Research Greenhouse facility by sharing a central management area and will form the nucleus of a modern greenhouse complex. The facility is conceived within the goals of the WSU Master Plan and will be the primary hub of the future planned Plant Growth Facility area.
In addition, WSU hopes to replace the older and less functional greenhouses along Grimes Way with facilities that are more energy efficient, allow better control of light and other growing conditions and are arranged to permit a cleaner greenhouse environment. Together, these changes will result in more space and better quality space for carrying out the plant research needed as we develop the new concepts and cultivars needed for the future.
Greenhouses in both of the initial phases will be state-of-the-art and above BSL-1 quarantine requirements. Each greenhouse will be accessed through 42-inch wide doors. Features include: Sealed concrete floors; 30 inch high stem walls; glazed with laminated tempered glass on the roof and double-wall acrylic sheets for the interior and exterior walls. Each zone will be capable of independently maintaining various temperatures, relative humidity and light levels. Structure, glazing and doors will be arranged and detailed so that infiltration into any given compartment is less or equal to applicable code requirements. Each greenhouse zone will have screened natural ventilation and either exhaust fans (non-AC) or air handler (AC) with cooling and heating coils and MERV 14 filtration to eliminate spores. The non-AC greenhouses have a finned tube radiation heating system. A general snow-melt heating system will cover all zones. Greenhouse control will be handled by an Argus Controls System, designed so that it may also incorporate controls for the Wheat Research greenhouses in the future. Most greenhouses will be fitted with a combination of fixed and rolling benches (with a few zones having soil beds), shading system, plumbing hose stations (ITW, IFW, CA, fog) and will have automatic irrigation at each bench. Some rooms will have a total black-out system. All greenhouse zones will have a HID lighting system installed on a motorized canopy with counterweight. Fixtures will be 1000-watt high-pressure-sodium lamps designed to provide 400 micromoles of lighting over the entire zone. Approximately 992 kW of power is required for the greenhouse, including about 200 kW for essential and life safety standby power. Equipment to be included on emergency power are some receptacles, life safety equipment and lighting, natural ventilation systems, heating components (pumps, valves, etc.), fire alarms and sensors, security and greenhouse control equipment.
The initial phase, which will be partly funded by the Washington Grain Commission, is projected to construct 10,500 square feet of greenhouse space on two levels with a total of 10 non-AC research greenhouses, 4 AC research greenhouses and some circulation spaces. This phase will also have 8500 square feet of headhouse and support space.
The second phase, which is awaiting predesign and ultimate approval from the Legislature, includes about 20,000 square feet of greenhouse space on two levels. This phase is projected to include 16 non-AC greenhouse zones and 9 AC zones of the same type and size in addition to headhouse and circulation spaces.
The third phase will involve construction of greenhouses to replace many of the older greenhouses along Grimes Way. Planning for these has begun.