greenhouse funding

Ross Koning Koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Fri Oct 27 12:18:52 EST 1995

At  3:53 PM 10/26/95 -0700, Gary Kuleck wrote:
>Hi folks,
>    My colleague and I are the plant biologists in our department and we are
>trying to procure funding to construct new or expand our extremely limited
>house space (280 sq ft) for the purposes of undergraduate teaching and
>Is there anyone out there who has had experience in planning such facilities
>obtaining funding for this purpose? Since NSF doesn't currently fund
>renovation, which agency(ies) might?   Please e-mail me directly with any info
>you might provide. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

I'll tell you my story as briefly as I can.

I was hired in 1987 with the promise of a
greenhouse so I could do my work.  Committees
were formed to discuss it.  The state dept. of
public works was called in to determine
cost, etc.  The estimate was $300,000 for
a 40x60 greenhouse!  Obviously the negotiations
fell flat.  The state builds brick out-houses
as you know.  After six years, our head of
physical plant retired and a new guy with a
degree from Michigan State Univ. in agriculture
was hired.  He knew it was all crazy.  Using
some budget "underages" from several sources
and a "rollover" from a previous year, he bought
two new 24x48 quonset style units designed for
polyethylene film complete with heating and
cooling equipment.  The next budget year he
got together enough money for benches, automated
watering system, and the end-walls treatment.
The gas company was thrilled to finance all the
digging and laying of gas lines to a greenhouse
in New England!!  Electrical and telephone
connections were put in with a campus-wide
telecommunications upgrade.  The two units
were assembled on-site by our physical plant
staff rather than a contractor.  I operated
one-year without a surrounding fence in our
urban location, but the polyethylene outer
shell was slashed many times by vandals.  The
next year we put up a fence and the vandalism

I am not sure where the bottom line is, but
I *do* think it is under $20,000.  Of course
the gas company is thrilled with the monthly
operating costs, but that's another story.
In any case, I have units that are good and
have been through two winters now, and I am
very pleased.  These units were slated as
"temporary" which is how we avoided the whole
state capital building process.  They are like
portable classrooms.  In many ways, the style
of the greenhouse is VERY MUCH like what a
graduate would find in any nursery business
today.  Thus, the greenhouses are real-world
rather than ivory-tower.  There is a hidden
advantage there.

We do have a long-term construction plan, for
something more ivory-tower but that is down
the road about five years thanks to the
required state processes.  It is doubtful
that our state can afford such a thing even

The site of our greenhouses was chosen for
sun exposure and adjacent classroom space and
was on a location where two "portable" class-
rooms were being removed.  Those had been on
the site for 25 years...I expect my "temporary"
greenhouses to be on-site for a similar time
frame...i.e. the rest of my career.

One suggestion...take your head of physical
plant and your dean/VP/President out to a
commerical nursery to see what is out there.
As the nursery owner to explain set-up and
operating costs to the people you bring with
you.  Sometimes our managers have no clue
what we are talking about, but such a visit
can get everyone talking on the same level.

Good Luck with your project!


( )______________________________________________)
 \ Ross Koning                                  \
  \ Biology Department                           \
   \ Eastern CT State University                  \
    \ Willimantic, CT  06226  USA                  \
     \ Koning at                    \
      \ \
       \ Phone: 860-465-5327                          \
        ) Fax: 860-465-5213                            )

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