Integrating an Environmentally Controlled Research Greenhouse on Top of a Multi-Story Science Building

Sean Convery, Cator, Ruma & Associates
Andrew Clinch, Perkins & Will

The new Science Initiative Building at the University of Wyoming has a variety of program space integrated into one facility, including general labs, BSL-2 labs, imaging labs, vivarium and an environmentally controlled greenhouse. The greenhouse facility is on the top floor with 12 greenhouses and a headhouse facility. Six greenhouses are conditioned with evaporative cooling and finned tube heaters. The other six use evaporative cooling, chilled water and hot water fan coil units to control temperature. CO2 scrubbers and CO2 injection will simulate environments that plants have grown in, based on different eras such as pre-industrial or the future with global warming.

The building is designed with boilers to boost the temperature of the campus heating water up to 180 degrees for heating the greenhouses. The cooling comes from a campus chilled water system for the six greenhouses with fan coil units. There are many hours that evaporative cooling will do the cooling to save energy, and the chilled water would be used to trim the temperature to meet the tolerance. The greenhouses are outfitted with ports through the wall where a portable CO2 scrubber can be used to remove CO2. In addition, the greenhouses will be piped with CO2 gas to inject CO2 into the space to simulate global warming.

The floor/roof assembly system is comprised of a two-layer system to have an interstitial space that has floor drains for emergency purposes should water get past the main greenhouse floor.

Learning Objectives

  • Hear an example of integrating program and function of three diverse research programs into one building including vivarium, research labs and greenhouses;
  • Understand architectural details and waterproofing requirements for putting a greenhouse over occupied floors;
  • Understand an approach to integrating the heating system needed for a greenhouse with a campus heating system; and
  • Understand the environmental controls needed to truly air condition greenhouses in a cold high elevation campus.


Sean Convery, PE is a Principal at Cator, Ruma & Associates and President of the Colorado I2SL Chapter. His 26 years of mechanical design experience includes energy-efficient mechanical systems for research labs and higher education campuses. He has been involved in the design of over 100 lab projects, many of them Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSL-3).

Andy Clinch is a Principal at Perkins&Will with over 23 years of experience on science and technology projects. He has extensive experience leading complex projects of all size and scope through programming, design and CA. His leadership and management skills aid in guiding a successful team through all phases of a project to fulfill client goals.


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