Low Global Warming Potential (GWP) Refrigerants Make Climate-Controlled Greenhouses Even Greener

Low Global Warming Potential (GWP) Refrigerants Make Climate-Controlled Greenhouses Even Greener

New generations of technologies are helping make farming a reality in environments not usually suitable for agriculture.

Farm-to-table has always been an impossible dream in desert areas and other regions where produce suppliers must use airplanes to ferry in the fruits and vegetables consumers crave.  

But all that is changing, thanks to a new generation of climate-controlled greenhouses that let farmers use an enclosed growing structure to manage temperature, light, humidity and water usage to create an indoor oasis where plants of any kind can thrive year-round in ideal growing conditions.

By using technology to enable controlled-environment agriculture, producers can improve yields significantly, avoid food loss and limit spoilage. In fact, poor climate control ranks as the top reason food goes bad, causing more than $160 billion in annual food loss, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Studies show controlled-environment agriculture can also reduce water usage by as much as 50% and water waste by up to 30%, enabling farmers to make the most of one of the planet’s most precious resources. In the controlled environment of a modern greenhouse, plants consume a fraction of the water required in an outdoor setting.

Controlled-environment agriculture benefits the economy and smaller farmers, too. Local growers can grow almost anything year-round. As a result, consumers can buy produce that is fresher, more nutritional, less expensive and easier on the environment. In fact, according to Cornell University, the energy required to grow and Low transport fresh produce at least 1,000 miles is equivalent to the energy used for local production within controlled-environment facilities.

Produce companies can double down on sustainability by using high-efficiency air conditioning systems and low global-warming-potential (GWP) refrigerants, like Honeywell Solstice® zd, to create the best-possible indoor growing environment and minimized the greenhouse’s carbon footprint. Solstice zd has an ultra-low GWP of 1, which is 99.9 percent lower than the GWP of previous generation refrigerants.

Pure Harvest Smart Farms, a UAE-based is the first sustainable farming initiative to use Honeywell’s solution to cool its new indoor farm in Al Ain for the growth of produce, while reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

In an interview with Honeywell, Sky Kurtz,  cofounder and CEO of Pure Harvest Smart Farms, said: “We want to use technology to enable a much more efficient food production system and allow us to produce locally grown, high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables that are always available with much less environmental impact.  The cooling solutions and the refrigerants we choose - like Honeywell’s Solstice zd – are fundamental to our ability to achieve that outcome and deliver on our business model.”

Finding new ways to deal with FEW – food, energy and water – issues is a worldwide priority as we look for ways to mitigate the effects of global warming. Expanding the use of innovations like climate-controlled greenhouses holds enormous potential going forward.  

Learn more about Pure Harvest Smart Farms’ sustainability initiatives and how Honeywell Solstice zd is playing an important role. 

John Keating
Vice President and General Manager - Stationary Refrigerants