Educational Presentations

SARE Professional Development Presentations

The following presentations were developed with the assistance of a SARE Professional Development grant for the education of cooperative extension educators, college instructors and high school vocational agricultural teachers on energy efficiency and the use of biomass energy for heating greenhouses. If you’d like the PowerPoint files of these presentations or a video tape of the webinar of the different presentations (approximately 1 hour each), please send an email with your contact information (educational institution name, address, phone number and email) and educational affiliation to Scott Sanford at

Greenhouse Energy Conservation
Topics will include type of structure, glazing materials, types of heat loss, infiltration losses, heating systems, heat distribution, thermal curtains, space efficiency, summer ventilation, supplemental lighting and a brief look at passive solar greenhouse design.

Presentation (pdf)
Narrative (pdf)

Supporting Publications:

Greenhouse Energy Efficiency (2011), Scott Sanford, A3907-01, University of Wisconsin Extension, Madison, WI. Available at:

Greenhouse Unit Heaters: Types, Placement, and Efficiency (2011), Scott Sanford, A3907-02, University of Wisconsin Extension, Madison, WI. Available at:

Thermal/Shade Curtains for Greenhouses
Topic covered: The advantages and uses of a curtain system, types of configurations, installation issues, basic components, types of curtain materials, installation, curtain opening devices, controls, curtain management, approximate energy savings and installed costs. We also look at an alternative technology that uses foam between poly films to reduce heat losses. There are several greenhouse energy estimation tools available for estimating the energy use and potential energy savings from different energy conserving technologies and management practices which will be reviewed.

Presentation (pdf)
Narrative (pdf)

Supporting Publication:

“Using Curtains to Reduce Heating and Cooling Costs in Greenhouses” (2011), Scott Sanford, A3907-03, University of Wisconsin Extension, Madison, WI. Available at:


Energy-Efficiency in Greenhouse Crop Production
Topics covered: Use of supplemental lighting on plugs and transplants to accelerate cropping and improve plant quality, controlling photoperiod for flowering of finished plants, and energy-efficient temperature strategies during the finish stage.

Presentation (pdf)
Narrative (pdf)

Supporting Publication: A series of articles that appeared in Greenhouse Grower Magazine about different aspects of annual flower production that affect energy used to grow a crop. Authors included Eric Runkle – Michigan State University, Matthew Blanchard – Michigan State University, Paul Fisher – University of Florida, John Erwin – University of Minnesota, and Jonathan Frantz – USDA-ARS.

Energy Efficient Annuals Series – Greenhouse Grower.pdf


Alternative Fuels for Heating Greenhouses
Topics covered: This presentation will look at different potential fuel sources (biomass & used oils), types of furnaces and boilers including outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters, pellet or grain fired boilers/furnaces, stand alone stoves and a case study of two greenhouses. We’ll wrap up the presentation with information on energy grants to help pay cost share the capital costs of energy saving equipment or heating equipment to burn a renewable fuel.

Presentation (pdf)
Narrative (pdf)

Supporting Publications:

Biomass Energy for Heating Greenhouses (2010), Scott Sanford, A3907-04, University of Wisconsin Extension, Madison, WI. Available at:

Biomass Heating in Greenhouses: Case Studies (2010), Scott Sanford, A3907-05, University of Wisconsin Extension, Madison, WI. Available at:

Greenhouse Energy Assessment Tool
This web based program uses your inputs on how the greenhouse is constructed along with temperature and solar data to calculate the heating needs for the period of time and temperature profiles used for your greenhouse. The program helps you analyze changes in glazing materials, reducing infiltration losses, perimeter heat loss, high efficiency heaters, the type and location of heat distribution, day/night temperature profiles, and thermal/night curtains. The calculations are based on 30 year averages of weather data and will not likely exactly match your energy use in any given year but it can but used to compare energy efficiency options. The estimated energy savings should be in the range of what would be expected in an “average” year. The weather data in the program includes the all U.S. states and territories.

This is the link to the program:

Additional Greenhouse Energy Resources
Additional Resources– A list of additional resources that may be helpful for reducing greenhouse energy use. There are also resource lists at the end of the extension publications listed above.


If you have questions about the information on this site, please contact
Scott Sanford, Distinguished Outreach Specialist, University of Wisconsin,