Greenhouse FAQs


What are the dimensions and capacity of the greenhouse?

  • 8 ft in width by 14 ft in length 
  • Attempting to mobilize the greenhouse by placing it on a deckover trailer which is 8.5 ft by 16 ft, if location is provided we will be able to shift the design to a ground-based model instead. 

What measures have you taken to ensure the greenhouse is structurally sound and meets safety standards?

  • In Fall 2023, we have created a full design of the structure on CAD and are using COMSOL and force/structure analysis  to ensure the design can withstand forces of snow, rain, wind, and more. We will also be following the Massachusetts building code for Greenhouses and consulting with several mechanical, electrical and civil engineering professors.

Materials and Sustainability:

What materials will be used for constructing the greenhouse? Are they environmentally friendly and sustainable?

  • In Construction, they will be using plywood, Burrill Fir Stud, Neoprene bonded washers, Silicone putty, polycarbonate, limestone gravel, and concrete. While sourcing materials, we will carefully create a quote with only the materials we need with little extra and aim for local contacts.
  • In Crops and Sustainability, our team aims to gather seeds from food scraps, and use wine crates/recycled wood for pots and planters.
  • In Outreach + Education, recycled children’s toys will be the primary material used in creating interactives.
  • For Lighting automation, the main source of power will be using solar panels and the natural greenhouse effect for heat.
  • In Hydro automation, a tank stand for rainwater collection will be used.
  • Overall, in prototyping, we will be using mostly recycled materials, 3D printing, laser cutting, all which uses the least amount of materials and creates the least amount of waste.

How do you plan to regulate temperature and humidity inside the greenhouse? What climate control systems will be implemented?

  • We plan to regulate temperature and humidity mainly with good insulation, and well drained floors. We are still working on regulating temperature in the winter, but currently do not plan on having a generator and will rely on more natural methods of heating such as compost bins.

How will you address water usage and irrigation within the greenhouse? Are you incorporating any water-saving technologies?

  • We are going to be using rainwater catchment systems, inspired from Malawi, and automated drip watering for irrigation.

Have you considered the energy source for powering any required equipment inside the greenhouse?

  • We will be using solar power as our primary source of energy and with little equipment, there will not be much power needed.

What measures are in place to prevent pests and diseases from affecting the plants?

  • Natural measures will be put in place with plants that combat pests and insects. In terms of disease, sanitation will be key with no external plants and debris will be brought in. Frequent daily care and monitoring for the plants (ex weeding reducing algae) will prevent the spread of disease.

Automation and Management:

Are you planning to incorporate any automation or smart systems within the greenhouse? If so, what functionalities will they offer?

  • We are planning to incorporate a significant amount of automation into the greenhouse design. The first major automated system is the water distribution system: this system plans to harvest rainwater, in conjunction with Tufts water supply as needed. After storage in a water tank, we’ll be distributing water at automated timings to different plants based on their needs. We’ll also have an interactive system in place for students to turn water on and off on a test pipe. 

What are your plans for waste management and recycling within the greenhouse?

  • All leftover supplies can be recycled to create interactive games and activities inside the greenhouse. After that, we plan to donate unused benches, stands, and hangers to local farms. Plant waste can be composted in the composting bin inside the greenhouse, which also provides heat in the winter months.

How will you ensure adequate ventilation and air circulation inside the greenhouse?

  • Fans will be used for ventilation. There will also be hot air flaps on the edges of the greenhouse, allowing hot air at the top of the greenhouse to escape in the hot summer months, and can be closed in the winter to keep hot air in.

How will you prevent burglary and vandalism in the greenhouse? 

  • The greenhouse will be locked at night. We will not store any valuable materials inside the greenhouse, thus making it an unlikely place for any robberies. It will be near Tufts property which is secured with security cameras, so likely will be in view of pre-existing security networks.

Timeline, Funding, and Community Engagement:

What is the expected timeline for the construction of the greenhouse?

  • This December was our prototype showcase, where groups showed off what they have worked on this semester. All parts of this project will work on ensuring our team has the skills to start construction in Spring 2024.

How do you plan to fund the project? Have you explored any potential sources of financing or partnerships?

  • The project will be funded through TCU as our main source of funding. In communications with the ALGO board, they have agreed verbally that they are interested in supporting the project through supplemental funding, with the possibility of around ~$10,000 being feasible. Of course, we plan to keep costs below ~$3,000 as an initial budget. We also understand that agreements can change, and we’re looking into funding from the Engineering department, as well as previous crowdfunding efforts that we have saved. We have also applied and interviewed for the Tisch Fund as of now, and are planning on applying for the Green Fund.

Are there any specific regulatory approvals or permits required for the greenhouse construction, and if so, have you obtained them?

  • There are permits required for commercial greenhouses. Considering our greenhouse is non-commercial, we have fewer/no permits to obtain. Tufts’s University’s approval will be the most important permit to obtain. We’re not sure whether the greenhouse will be constructed in Medford or Somerville, so we have not reached out to town halls yet. We plan to do so as soon as possible. 

Have you considered any potential community or neighborhood impact? How do you plan to engage with the local community regarding the project?