Energy-efficient greenhouse production a goal for Michigan’s fourth largest agriculture sector

posted on April 26, 2013 9:40am

Contact:  Beth Stuever, 517-884-7097517-884-7097
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan is third in the country in floriculture, and despite the climate and light limitations on floriculture production, it is Michigan’s fourth largest agriculture sector.  Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs) are the platform for industry-improving research to lower producers’ energy costs for heating and lighting.

Erik Runkle, associate professor and floriculture Extension specialist in the Horticulture Department at MSU, is the primary researcher for two projects focused on reducing energy costs for Michigan’s floriculture producers.

“Energy is the No. 1 cost that producers are concerned with,” Runkle said. “We’re trying to come up with feasible high-tech solutions to reduce costs without sacrificing production.”

If 25 percent of the industry in Michigan reduced its energy consumption by 15 percent, it would save $1.3 million annually, Runkle noted.

Into their third year of funding from Project GREEEN, Runkle and his team are able to offer a combination of tools to growers to help reduce energy consumption depending on their greenhouse situation.

Virtual Grower, a free program for producers, is available online at Growers can use it to play around with various temperatures and see how they will affect crop timing as well as energy costs. Runkle also led the development of a 16-page bulletin on greenhouse energy conservation strategies that is available online at

 “We’re also working on replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs to regulate flowering and decrease electricity costs,” Runkle added.  “With the continued funding from GREEEN, we will be able to continue working on developing a prescriptive approach to greenhouse efficiency that can be applied to all growers’ situations.”

For more information about energy efficiency in greenhouse production or other MSU research projects, visit the MSU Extension website at; to learn about Project GREEEN, visit

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