Case Study 12-03-434 Pit Greenhouse

February 11, 2016


The function of a greenhouse is to provide climate requirements for plants to thrive when the outside conditions may not be conducive to successful production. The key component to greenhouse design is maximizing the available sunlight, first for plant photosynthesis, and second for heating. The materials required to allow light transmission are inherently poor as insulators. Glazing options can range from high performance, insulated glass to polyethylene sheet plastic. The best insulating option for a greenhouse is still going allow heat loss at a rate many fold higher than a solid wall.


Solar Innovations, Inc. greenhouses are well known across the industry for high performance, energy-efficient design. The aluminum frame system is thermally enhanced for energy efficiency and is complimented by high performance, insulated glass. In addition, Solar utilizes a passive solar design strategy that considers regional climate, plant types, and seasonal use in order to customize the greenhouse specific to the end user. This includes using a wide selection of LoE coatings for the glass that increase the structure’s insulation. The resulting product leads the industry in
energy-efficiency, lower operational costs, longevity, and less maintenance requirements. 

Greenhouses can achieve more energy efficiency by using a “pit greenhouse” design strategy. Basically, a pit greenhouse is recessed some distance below grade and takes advantage of the natural insulation provided by the soil. When designed properly, these greenhouses lose very little heat from the walls below grade. These walls can also act as thermal mass that absorb excess heat and then reradiate it when it is needed in the greenhouse. The design can moderate temperature fluctuations that are commonly associated with greenhouses. Great care must be taken in the design of pit greenhouses. Poorly designed pit greenhouses that do not consider the changing solar angles throughout the year can prevent the sunlight from reaching the plants. However, well-designed pit greenhouses can greatly reduce the traditional problems of greenhouse heat loss and gain throughout the year.

Project Details
Series: SI5204 Straight Eave, Lean-to Greenhouse
Finish: AAMA 2603 Natural Clay Finish
Glazing: 3/16″ LoE 180 Tempered over
        5/8″ Stainless Steel air space (Argon Filled)
             3/16″ Clear Tempered