Indoor food production systems have the opportunity to reduce the overall impact that agriculture has on the environment. Greenhouses reduce the need for many precious resources, such as land and water, while simultaneously producing higher yields per unit area than field grown crops. However, other resources are required to produce food indoors, including building materials and energy to operate systems. Furthermore, technologies like evaporative cooling systems, utilize water, offsetting some of the savings acquired through hydroponic irrigation. Therefore, environmental stewardship and sustainability should be an important element when planning, designing, building, and operating the greenhouse.
Green Building Certifications
Greenhouses can achieve green building certifications on their own, or be part of bigger project that achieves certification. There are many green building certification systems throughout the world. The most widely recognized green building rating systems in the U.S. are LEED and the Living Building Challenge. LEED (Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design) is administered by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED emphasizes resource use reduction, water and energy use efficiency, and indoor environmental quality that enhances the occupant experience. There are a handful of greenhouses in the US that have achieved or helped a project achieve LEED certification. The Living Building Challenge has greater expectations and encourages projects to be net positive and self-sufficient, by generating the resources it needs, promoting social equity, and enhancing it surroundings with beauty and form.