GLASE consortium aims to improve greenhouse energy efficiency

From Hort Americas blog [2017-08-24]:
Even though the Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering (GLASE) consortium is New York-based, the research it is doing has the potential to impact controlled environment agriculture worldwide.

The GLASE consortium is headed by researchers Tessa Pocock at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Neil Mattson at Cornell University and GLASE executive director Erico Mattos.

The GLASE consortium is headed by researchers Tessa Pocock at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Neil Mattson at Cornell University and GLASE executive director Erico Mattos.

The Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering (GLASE) consortium is a partnership between Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Albany, N.Y. The consortium will be conducting research to improve controlled environment agriculture (CEA) operations including reducing energy consumption.

The goal of the consortium is to create a more sustainable and profitable greenhouse industry. Although the focus of the research will be on greenhouse production, the findings should also have application to indoor CEA production including vertical farms and warehouses. Greenhouses, which can be electricity-intensive depending on the level of automation, cover 720 acres in New York State. The consortium is looking to reduce greenhouse electricity use and concomitant carbon emission by 70 percent and to increase crop yields by 2030.

Erico Mattos, who was appointed executive director of GLASE in June, said he has been hired as a subcontractor by Cornell University and will be working to recruit industry members to join the consortium.

“Currently I have a 50 percent time appointment with GLASE,” Mattos said. “My time with GLASE will increase as we bring in industry members. I am living in Georgia, but will be moving to upstate New York over the next year and will be located between RPI in Albany and Cornell University in Ithaca.”

Mattos said GLASE is a seven-year project which has received $5 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The money will be used to sponsor research between Cornell and RPI.
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GLASE featured in The Polytechnic

Photo: Jack Wellhofer/The Polytechnic

Photo: Jack Wellhofer/The Polytechnic

The Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering Consortium (GLASE) was featured in The Polytechnic, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s student-run newspaper, July 17:

GLASE center to improve greenhouse industry

An excerpt:

One of the many aspects of Rensselaer’s environmentally-conscious research enterprise revolves around sustainable and clean food, water, and energy supplies under President Jackson’s research paradigm known as “The New Polytechnic.” A new public-private research consortium called GLASE, or the Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering Consortium, was announced at a press conference in the Darrin Communications Center at Rensselaer.

The consortium will be led by researchers at Cornell University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with the goal of transforming the way greenhouses operate in order to reduce electricity usage by up to seventy percent. The seven year, $5 million project is currently being funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in order to advance Governor Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard that aims to have 50 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, satisfying requirements held by the Paris Climate Accords and the federal Clean Power Plan.

Plant physiology expert Dr. Tessa Pocock, senior research scientist at the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications, will lead Rensselaer’s portion of the investigation focusing primarily on systems engineering applications.

“The engineered LED lighting and sensing systems with advanced feedback control are being pioneered at LESA. Integrated with Cornell’s advanced greenhouse management technologies, GLASE has the potential to create a more sustainable and profitable greenhouse industry. The systems engineering expertise at LESA and the agriculture expertise at Cornell make this an ideal partnership,” said NYSERDA.

Dr. Neil Mattson, an associate professor in horticulture at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will be the principal investigator at Cornell, determining precise LED light conditions needed for tomatoes and strawberries, both commonly grown in commercial greenhouses. Mattson, who directs the Controlled Environmental Agriculture Group at Cornell CALS, said investment in energy-efficient greenhouse lighting will ensure New York’s leadership in local food production and that reactive LED lighting, much of which is currently being developed at Rensselaer, will enable optimal lighting conditions in greenhouses.

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New Consortium to Reduce Greenhouse Energy Use

Reposted from CALS News [2017-06-05]

GLASE team members include Neil Mattson, associate professor, SIPS; David de Villiers, research associate, SIPS; Kale Harbick, research associate, SIPS; Lou Albright, professor emeritus, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering. Photo by Chris Kitchen / University Marketing.

GLASE team members include Neil Mattson, associate professor, SIPS; David de Villiers, research associate, SIPS; Kale Harbick, research associate, SIPS; Lou Albright, professor emeritus, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering. Photo by Chris Kitchen / University Marketing.

New York greenhouses are increasingly tasked to do two things seemingly at odds with one another: match consumer appetite for increased local vegetable production while dramatically reducing overall energy consumption.

A public-private consortium led by researchers at Cornell and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is poised to accomplish both. The Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering (GLASE) consortium announced June 5 will transform the way greenhouses operate to reduce electricity use for lighting by up to 70 percent.

NYS Agriculture and Markets commissioner Richard Ball, Mattson, and RPI collaborator Tessa Pocock at the GLASE consortium announcement June 5.

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets commissioner Richard Ball, Mattson, and RPI photobiologist Tessa Pocock at the GLASE consortium announcement June 5.

Led by Neil Mattson, associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, and his collaborators at RPI, GLASE demonstrates a holistic greenhouse energy management system that integrates control of LED lighting, carbon dioxide supplementation, ventilation and humidity.

The seven-year, $5 million project funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will advance Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s energy policy – Reforming the Energy Vision – that aims to reduce greenhouses gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels.

At RPI’s center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA), engineers will develop energy efficient, cutting-edge light-emitting diode (LED) plant-lighting systems. Unlike the high-pressure sodium bulbs traditionally used to illuminate greenhouses, LED light can be dimmed and the spectrum adjusted to match optimal wavelengths. Cornell horticulture experts in collaboration with LESA photobiologist Tessa Pocock will test dynamic lighting and control systems that adjust to provide light more effectively to plants.

Mattson, who directs the Controlled Environment Agriculture group in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said reactive lighting made possible with LED technologies allows growers to provide optimal lighting as conditions change throughout the day. His research at the Kenneth Post and Guterman greenhouse facilities on the Ithaca campus will determine precise LED lighting and control strategies needed by lettuce, tomatoes and strawberries as model plants.

“An ability to adjust in real time the light spectrum and light quantity means plants get consistent, uniform, reproducible light at all times. That means we’re not wasting light and the electricity needed to create it when plants don’t need it for growth,” Mattson said.

Trends in New York are pointing toward more vegetables being grown indoors. The most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture census data shows the cultivation of lettuce and tomatoes in the state increased by 10.6 percent per year from 2007 to 2012.

“This is an industry that continues to expand in the vegetable-growing sector,” Mattson said. “This investment in energy-efficient greenhouse production will help ensure New York’s continued leadership in local food production in the Northeast.”

Along with light and water, plants require carbon dioxide to drive photosynthesis. Previous research by Lou Albright, professor emeritus in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, has shown that lettuce needs substantially less supplemental light if the environment is enriched with carbon dioxide. Mattson and his team will study how tomato and strawberry growth responds to carbon dioxide supplementation.

Data collected from his studies will be used by Cornell biological and environmental engineering colleagues Kale Harbick and Tim Shelford to develop algorithms that growers can use to make dynamic decisions regarding optimal lighting and carbon dioxide conditions. Over the life of the project, Mattson’s team will work with industry partners to test strategies in commercial facilities and monitor the carbon footprint of their operations.

The consortium will work with lighting manufacturers, growers, trade groups, produce buyers, agriculture lighting engineers, researchers, government agencies, Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists and others.

“New York’s greenhouse industry is experiencing rapid growth, making quick and meaningful action key to ensuring new and existing greenhouses are energy-efficient and highly productive,” said John B. Rhodes, president and CEO of NYSERDA. “The consortium’s work will advance Governor Cuomo’s energy goals and New York’s vital agriculture sector.”

Mattson said GLASE is being organized to persist as a self-sustaining group. When the seven-year funding commitment ends, the consortium plans to continue to work with companies and partners to develop an organization that responds to industry needs.

Written by Matt Hayes, CALS Marketing and Communications. This article originally appeared in the Cornell Chronicle {2017-06-05].

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