Innovative systems for sustainable greenhouse production
This article is focused on innovation and sustainability in the greenhouse sector. The two concepts are linked, since any current innovation must be based on sustainability. In terms of technical innovations, after a brief discussion about ongoing developments in passive (unheated) and active (heated) greenhouses, particular attention is paid to the emerging field of urban agriculture, more specifically to the rooftop greenhouse (RTG) concept, as an innovative greenhouse production system. Based on recent experience from an RTG located in Barcelona (Spain), figures are given on the exchange of energy between the greenhouse and its associated building. In addition, special features of RTGs, such as light transmission and shade from construction elements, and RTG temperature, are discussed. In terms of environmental sustainability, the article tries to answer some questions, as follows. Is greenhouse production very harmful to the environment? Which are the bottlenecks in greenhouse production in terms of environmental impact? What is being done wrong? To answer these questions, studies based on the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology applied to greenhouse horticulture are summarized. Recommendations on how to improve the environmental profile of greenhouses are suggested. Accounting (that is, increasing awareness of the inputs currently used in horticulture as well as their consequences) and closing loops (that is, reusing and saving resources, waste and energy) are key factors to be taken into account in present and future developments of a sustainable greenhouse industry.
Montero, J.I., Antón, A. and Lorenzo, P. (2018). Innovative systems for sustainable greenhouse production. Acta Hortic. 1227, 13-24
urban agriculture, passive greenhouses, rooftop greenhouses, life cycle assessment