Chapter 1

Greenhouse Structures and Design

(book excerpts)

Greenhouses are used to provide optimal environments for plant growth and development. The greenhouse design must deal with the local outdoor circumstances, like minimum, maximum and average temperature, humidity, solar radiation, clearness of the sky (clouds), precipitation (rain, hail and snow) and average wind speed and wind direction. Some of the components of a greenhouse design are location, orientation, site selection, drainage, structure, foundation, flooring, glazing, and ventilation facilities together with the technical equipment needed to control the climate inside the greenhouse. The location and orientation of a greenhouse determine the amount of light that enters it. Determining the best location to erect the greenhouse is an important decision. A suitable greenhouse location will include a spot where the sun hits the greenhouse all day long and no shadows are cast on the greenhouse. Greenhouses can be classified as free-standing or gutter-connected. A free-standing greenhouse can have a quonset (hoop), gothic, or gable roof shape. A gutter-connected greenhouse is a series of bays with gable or quonset arches connected together at the gutter level. Structural members, used for the greenhouse “skeleton”, must be strong enough to prevent structural failure during adverse weather conditions but be kept to a minimum size and number to reduce the amount of shading and to provide for maximum light transmission. The framing of the structure is made of aluminum, galvanized steel, PVC pipe, or such woods as redwood, cedar, or cypress. A greenhouse has a large expanse of glazing on its sides and roof so that the plants are exposed to natural light for much of the day. Glass has been the traditional glazing material, but plastic films, such as polyethylene or polyvinyl, and fibreglass or polycarbonate are increasingly used.

Click on the following topics for more information on greenhouse structures and design.

Topics Within This Chapter:

  • Greenhouse Site Selection
  • Microclimate
  • Water Availability and Quality
  • Topography
  • Windbreaks
  • Room for Expansion
  • Availability of Labor
  • Infrastructure
  • Market Accessibility
  • Legal Considerations
  • Greenhouse Orientation
  • Angle of Incidence
  • Types of Greenhouses
  • Free-Standing Greenhouses
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Free-Standing Greenhouses
  • Quonset Greenhouses
  • A-Frame Greenhouses
  • Gothic Arch Greenhouses
  • Gable Greenhouses
  • Gutter-Connected Greenhouses
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Gutter-Connected Greenhouses
  • Venlo Greenhouses
  • Sawtooth Greenhouses
  • Open-Roof Greenhouse Systems
  • Advantages of Open-Roof Greenhouses
  • Open-Panel Greenhouse Systems
  • Retractable-Film Greenhouse Systems
  • Flat-Roof Greenhouse Systems
  • Low-Profile Greenhouse Systems
  • Rolling-Roof Greenhouse Systems
  • Greenhouse Structural Components
  • Greenhouse Framing Members
  • Greenhouse Framing Materials
  • Greenhouse Foundation
  • Greenhouse Walls
  • Greenhouse Flooring
  • Soil Floors
  • Gravel Floors
  • Concrete Floors
  • Other Types Greenhouse Structures
  • Growing Rooms
  • Head House
  • Refrigerated Storage for Greenhouse Crops
  • Cold Frames
  • Cold Frame Construction
  • Hot Frames
  • Shadehouses
  • Fabric
  • Structural Designs