Walters Gardens, Inc. was awarded a $10,311 Energy Efficient Improvement Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for installing a heat-retaining energy curtain in three of its newest greenhouses. They were the first company in the state of Michigan to receive grant money under this program, according to Walters Gardens.
During the past year, Walters Gardens, Inc. increased its greenhouse space by 22 percent, but due to the energy-efficient heat curtain and other conservation efforts, its heating costs increased by 4 percent. An annual savings of approximately 30 percent is expected, and the curtain is expected to pay for itself within three years, according to Walters. The company plans to utilize this energy-efficient technology in new construction in the future so more of these savings may be realized.
According to Troy Shumaker, CFO of Walters Gardens, Inc., the heat-retaining energy curtain essentially acts like large window blinds positioned just below the roof of the greenhouse. In the early morning, the heat curtain opens slowly to allow for the gradual recirculation of cooler air and to allow in some natural sunlight. In the evening, as the temperature cools, the automatic computer operated shade closes, trapping the heat inside close to the plants.
During the information gathering stage of the application process, Walters had to gather estimates from contractors who installed the energy curtain, warranty and product information, estimates of potential energy savings, a report of the design and engineering technology, as well as a plan for the operation and maintenance of the curtain. It was also necessary to provide a procedure for decommissioning the curtain should it become necessary. Reporting during the construction phase consisted of quarterly construction plan submissions. For a period of two years after the grant is approved, Walters Gardens, Inc. will be required to report the actual energy savings realized from the energy curtain.