The Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering (GLASE) consortium plans to offer the controlled environment agriculture industry expanded educational programs and online tools, greater opportunities to network with GLASE researchers and more membership options.
The Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering (GLASE) consortium is a public-private project that was established in 2017. The purpose of the consortium is to develop new technologies to assist the greenhouse industry to reduce electricity use for lighting in order to reduce environmental impact while increasing efficiency and profitability. GLASE is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and by industry partners.
The consortium’s academic members include Cornell University, Rutgers University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. GLASE has 26 members with about half being product manufacturers and service providers and the other half being growers.
“We work with industry members which are mainly controlled environment greenhouse and indoor growers and manufacturers,” said Erico Mattos, executive director of GLASE. “We are working with these people to develop, transfer and implement new energy-efficient technologies to help controlled environment growers become more sustainable and more profitable by reducing energy consumption related primarily to grow light systems. GLASE researchers are looking to develop the technology, helping the growers to understand the technology benefits and then assisting the industry in implementing this technology.”
Industry advisory board input, interaction
The consortium works with an industry advisory board of GLASE members who help to guide future research and to provide insight and input related to industry issues.
“The advisory board is instrumental in helping to identify bottlenecks and problems that the industry is experiencing that could be solved by new research and technology development,” Mattos said. “By having this ongoing relationship with industry members, GLASE researchers are able to learn what the industry needs.
“The industry advisory board meets every quarter during which we discuss what GLASE is doing, the technologies GLASE researchers are working on and what they have developed. The advisory board meetings are very helpful in guiding us in regards to the research we are conducting and enables us to focus on research that can assist our industry members in addressing problems or issues they may be facing.”
During the advisory board meetings GLASE members also have an opportunity to network with each other. The meetings include a 30-minute introduction where each member talks about their company and provides updates on what their companies are doing. Following the member introductions, the GLASE researchers discuss the research they are doing. The meetings conclude with a discussion of business development activities, including the technology and online tools GLASE is developing.
Tools for real world applications
In 2021 GLASE developed an online software tool called Light and Shade System Implementation (LASSI) that enables users to forecast the total solar daily light integral (DLI). LASSI enables growers to operate supplemental grow lights and movable shade systems to provide their crops with a consistent daily light integral.
“GLASE grower members can use the online LASSI model to determine the energy savings that are possible in their greenhouses,” Mattos said. “LASSI enables GLASE members to optimize their systems and increase energy-use efficiency.
“For 2022 GLASE researchers are going to expand the LASSI software program to include carbon dioxide. Like the lighting program this new software application will enable growers to look at different models to project energy savings, but they will also be able to do this with supplemental carbon dioxide in addition to the light control.”
This year GLASE will also be expanding its research with the LASSI program by installing the software in eight New York State commercial greenhouse operations.
“GLASE has secured a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant to conduct this study,” Mattos said. “With this project we want to demonstrate the benefits of light controllers in commercial greenhouses and incentivize the use and implementation of this software.”
Another project that GLASE is working on is developing a New York State data base and benchmark tool.
“The platform we have designed is for data collection and benchmarking energy efficiency and use,” Mattos said. “The data base and benchmarking software tool was developed in partnership with Ensave. We created a system platform in which we are able to collect data from a wide variety of greenhouses. We can identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) which can be used to create baselines for the industry.”
GLASE is recruiting 80 greenhouse growers in New York to go through this process. The goal is to provide controlled environment growers with baselines for all of the systems they are using. This will help them better understand the technologies they are using and how they compare with their peers.
“Growers will be able to identify points of improvement related to energy use and efficiency,” Mattos said. “The information generated will help growers to identify and prioritize their investments so they can achieve more profitability. They will also be able to determine where they are in relation to other growers. Our goal beyond 2022 is to expand this project to other states around New York.”
More outreach educational programs
During 2021 GLASE ran a successful series of eight educational webinars. This year GLASE will expand this series to 10 webinars.
“These webinars are focused on topics industry members are interested in learning more about,” Mattos said. “The webinars looked at new technology and new research. They also gave participants the opportunity to connect with the speakers after the webinars had concluded.”
One of GLASE’s biggest educational accomplishments in 2021 was the Plant Lighting Short Course which was conducted in partnership with OptimIA and Project LAMP. This six-week, six-module short course focused on all aspects of lighting technology, including the selection, implementation and benefits of plant lighting systems. Over 250 people participated in the short course, including greenhouse growers, industry manufacturers and service providers, university researchers and students. The short course is currently available online to GLASE members.
For 2022 the GLASE short course will focus on climate controls.
“GLASE is looking to replicate the success of its 2021 model,” Mattos said. “This year’s short course will be a modular program held during September and October.
“Participants will have the opportunity to learn about climate control, including light, temperature and carbon dioxide. There will be a module for each specific parameter that can be found in climate control systems. Participants will learn how to use these systems, how to understand the data collected and what each parameter means. There will also be a module that focuses on the future of climate control. This will include data analysis and artificial intelligence as this technology evolves and the potential benefits for growers using these kinds of control systems.”
Expanded membership opportunities
For 2022 GLASE will be offering individual memberships. These individual memberships will apply to anyone interested in becoming a member, including students and staff who will be offered a discounted membership rate.
“These new individual members will have access to this year’s GLASE short course on climate control as well as last year’s Plant Lighting Short Course,” Mattos said. “Individual members will also have access to the GLASE online tools.
“For this year we are also planning a training program on how to use the online LASSI. This will be a one hour webinar during which the GLASE researchers will demonstrate how to use this tool, explain its benefits and how to understand the results.”
For more: Erico Mattos, GLASE, (302) 290-1560; email@example.com; https://glase.org/.
David Kuack is a freelance technical writer in Fort Worth, Texas; firstname.lastname@example.org.