UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into the viability of a waste heat powered greenhouse Bae, Do Youl; Ng, Calvin; Pateman, Joseph


UBC plans to build a microbrewery on campus that will produce excess steam as a by-product of the brewing process. This is potentially an abundant source of heat energy and should be retained for use to ensure and further promote sustainability on campus. This investigation assumes the primary source of heat energy is steam supplied from a microbrewery. In order to assess the viability of any potential structures to use this waste heat energy, a triple bottom line analysis will be used along with thermodynamic, material and economic analysis. This investigation deals with the viability of building a waste heat powered greenhouse on the roof of the new SUB currently under construction at UBC. Originally, the plan involved utilisation of waste heat in the form of steam produced by a proposed microbrewery to be constructed in the new SUB at UBC; however, as plans for the new building changed, the brewery project was moved elsewhere. The crux of the issue remained however, can a greenhouse be constructed, either on the roof of the SUB or elsewhere, that is heated predominantly by waste heat? Using a triple bottom line analysis which takes into account economic, environmental and social aspects, the viability of such a project was assessed. We found that a greenhouse using an in-soil radiant heating system would be a good solution. Economically, the greenhouse is the most conservative to construct and maintain. Furthermore, it is a viable, low risk revenue stream generated by saving electricity and producing crops that will be grown year-round. Environmentally, the energy savings from using waste heat as opposed to buying electricity, is substantial. Additionally, the materials used in the construction of the greenhouse are long lasting, easily recycled materials. Socially, the greenhouse provides a practical learning environment for students and faculty as well as a source of entertainment for any visitors. This investigation shows that the greenhouse is the most viable option economically, environmentally and socially. We strongly recommend that a waste heat powered greenhouse be constructed on the roof of the new SUB. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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