New Greenhouses Will Aid Research

The foundations and frames of the new greenhousesThe foundations and frames of the new greenhouses.
For years, faculty members and classes in Life Sciences have used greenhouses adjacent to the Benjamin Cluff building at the south end of the BYU campus to grow plants for research and propagation. New greenhouses now under construction will provide these same functions, but with improved space utilization and upgraded environmental controls. The new greenhouses are being built a few blocks to the east, at the site of the old horticultural gardens (1000 East 820 North, next to Kiwanis Park).

The upgraded controls include an automatic lighting system that will allow professors and students to turn the lights on and off using computerized timing systems. It is important to control the amount of light that various research subjects receive, so during long winter nights, artificial light can be provided. In the summer, Utah receives a great deal of natural light (five times the amount that California receives, for example), so in addition to controlling artificial lights, the new upgrades will al- low controlling natural light—a retractable cloth will be installed to shield plants from excessive light.

There will also be an updated cooling system in the new greenhouses. As in most greenhouses, the cooling system will be based on evaporation, using pads and fans like a home swamp cooler. But unlike the swamp coolers common in Utah homes, the system will be computerized, allowing the temperature of each room to be controlled separately; and these computerized controls can be accessed remotely by faculty members using computers in their own offices.

The improved functional space will have other unique benefits. For example, one room will be set ten feet in the ground to allow taller tropical plants to be grown. The de- sign of the new greenhouses eliminates two of the interior hallways and the extra passageways around the edge of the current greenhouses. Plots outside of the greenhouses will also be available to be used for teaching, mentoring, and research. “Exclusion rooms” will be installed with double doors for pest and disease control used in some types of studies. 

Although these greenhouses will be a ten-minute walk from campus, they will be worth the walk.