Alquimi and its technology group Island AgTech, together with its strategic engineering partner Sprung Structures Ltd, based in Calgary, Alberta, have finalized development of the first fully certified hurricane resistant greenhouse system that can withstand wind loads up to 175 mph to meet IBC – 2015 building codes.
10.5K IAT-Sprung greenhouse project currently under development in the Caribbean region
The greenhouse structures have been specifically developed to secure investment in the first commercial scale protected agriculture production in regions constantly threatened by climate change and severe cyclonic weather events including hurricanes and typhoons. The company is focused on developing commercial scale hydroponic farms in the Caribbean and Pacific regions. The customized growhouse systems will support all forms of hydroponic classifications as well as soil-based farming and medical cannabis production.
Sprung has been in operation for over 100 years and has supplied over 15,000 structures globally utilizing their proprietary stressed-membrane engineering. Many of those buildings were built to severe climate risks and proved indestructible through actual hurricane and typhoon events. Alquimi and Island AgTech worked with the Sprung team to develop the greenhouse structures to withstand the most severe hurricane events recently experienced in the Caribbean which destroyed all greenhouse operations across the BVI, USVI, and Puerto Rico.
“In 2017 we introduced a Category 4 rated steel and polycarbonate based greenhouse system, but after the hurricane events in the Caribbean in late 2017 our investors and insurance underwriters made it clear that any greenhouse infrastructure needed to meet the newest codes, and we’re very excited to have accomplished that with help of our partners at Sprung”, stated Ralph Birkhoff, one of the founding members of Alquimi.
Greenhouse damage across Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria, 2017
The greenhouse structures are also offered with energy efficient evaporative cooling, humidity control, and shading systems where sub-tropical climate conditions impact interior growing conditions. They utilize a solid aluminum corrosive resistant extrusion that provides column-free production space. The proprietary membrane was also developed by Sprung specifically for the greenhouse application and has proved to work extremely well. The membrane is extremely durable, self-cleaning, and comes with a ten-year warranty. “We can erect these greenhouse systems very rapidly, which is critical to increasing production to meet immediate demand. Our 10.5K model can be fully erected in about 20 days”, states Birkhoff.
Sprung Greenhouse R&D Center, Calgary, AB
The Caribbean region currently imports over 80% of its fresh produce needs, and that demand is growing every year due to increased resort development and lifestyle changes. “By substituting this food production and growing locally through our greenhouse farms we will be able to deliver commercial volumes of organic quality food with high nutrient content at a competitive cost to imports. This will have a direct and positive impact on the reduction of the shipping carbon footprint, reducing food wastage, providing longer product shelf life, and improving the tourism dining experience. In the longer term it should also improve the health of all local residents by providing access to locally farmed, higher nutrient food at a lower cost than imports.”
Alquimi has projects underway across the Caribbean and soon hopes to expand into the Pacific region. The company intends to “disrupt the current food supply chain and grow local” through its climate smart greenhouse technologies.
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