Growing Green: Sustainability in RD Greenhouse Design

Christopher Small, Clark Nexsen, Inc.

Plant-based research and pharmaceuticals have received notoriety in recent years due to challenges in both the agriculture and pharmaceutical industries. Global challenges facing the agriculture industry include hunger faced by a growing population, as well as drought and disease resistance. Pharmaceutical advances are now using plants to create vaccines for infections such as pandemic flu and Ebola. The facilities that are facing these challenges head on are "glass" laboratories, better known as greenhouses. Research Triangle Park has created an environment of world-leading innovation in the field of Agriculture Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals, a uniquely skilled workforce, and collaboration with leading research institutions in the area has allowed growth and development of state-of-the-art facilities. This session will describe the challenges faced when designing RD greenhouses, which are notoriously inefficient, and how to create sustainable design solutions with regards to energy, water consumption and reuse, sustainable mechanical strategies, and waste management.

Learning Objectives

  • understand how Greenhouses are used for more than growing and the importance of scientific discovery in Glass Labs.
  • understand the flexibility and efficiency of using Plants in Research for Pharmaceuticals.
  • know how to achieve environmental consistency in a research greenhouse.
  • understand the principles of sustainable practices in Greenhouse design including energy conservation, water consumption & reuse, sustainable mechanical strategies, and waste management.


Chris Small is the market leader for Clark Nexsen's S+T practice that has designed more than 3.5 million square feet of RD space since 2010. His expertise is focused on project management, client management, and business development where he excels at communicating with client teams to move projects forward. Chris has served as a leader on multiple RD greenhouse projects throughout the U.S. Additional project experience includes Higher-Ed and Pharmaceutical facilities.


Note: I2SL did not edit or revise abstract or biography text. Abstracts and biographies are displayed as submitted by the author(s).