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Bridging the Gap: 4 Benefits to Attached Greenhouses

Ive just recently moved to the suburbs of Denver after living close to 8 years off-grid in a small community in Maui. Aside from some minor adjustments, I consider myself quite adaptable. Luckily, the winters are much milder than what Im used to growing up on the east coast, however, I haven’t done a lot of city living in my days. I went to college in NYC for a few years, and that was enough for me. So, I now I find myself in the middle, in a thick sprawl of buildings, where I have come once again face to face with our built environment.

The smaller me, probably demonized most of these building styles and techniques not too long ago. However, the bigger me, sees it as an opportunity. Now more than ever, with a housing and food crisis on the horizon, we need to redesign our built-environment to reflect a healthy & abundant future.

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Our environment is always giving us cues & suggestions. We are subtly being affected by our surroundings subconsciously all the time. Are we around things that remind us of what gives us life? I believe it is so important to be present observers of the processes of life. Even if we are not actively participating in things such as growing our own food, or being a DIY Enthusiast, we can walk down the street and see the person making the shoes, manufacturing the part, or preparing the food, right there in front of our eyes.

So my question is, where is the food coming from? I mean, of course I know where its coming from, but we don’t see it growing around us! Meanwhile, the technology and means of growing food in any kind of climate are entirely possible. In fact, I believe its right where you are right now. We are living & breathing, just as plants are living & breathing. In the same way we need a warm place to stay in the winter, the plants we need to survive would like that too!

So the current thought is to bring the food producing plants in with us! Lets include them in our story, our lives, and our built-environment. The combination of greenhouses and buildings are synergetic for many reasons I will soon get into. There are all sorts of fun designs with geothermal heating, working with existing insulated mass, and my favorite, connecting the growing of our food to the kitchen!

Attached Greenhouses

There are a few reasons that this could be absolutely amazing if we were able to figure out just how to pool finances, have joint ownership, and get through coded setbacks & HOA criteria (when applicable). Nonetheless, the benefits would include:

1. Energy Efficiency

The more surface area on the exterior building that is exposed to the elements, the more prone it is to heating and cooling loss. Even small jogs in the wall reduce efficiency. However, when a greenhouse is added to the exterior it helps to keep the heat in the winter and in the summer we can use the structure to have atomtiic shades which also would help reduce cooling costs. It is a symbiotic relationship between a building (the insulator) and the greenhouse (the conductor).

2. Food Security:

We all can recall food shortages now that Covid-19 made it obvious how fast your grocery store stocks can run out. Resiliency means being able to bounce back when life gets tough. With an attached greenhouse you have the ability to rely on your own supply and not live in fear that the next economic decline might cut you off from your food supply.

3. A Longer Growing Season:

Year round local food is a sore spot for most of the world. In colder climates we need greenhouses to produce food, if not all year, at least to have an extended growing season. With an attached greenhouse this is absolutely possible. For limited hours of daylight during the winter, grow lights help make this production consistent as well.

4. Strengthening Neighborhood Relationships:

If its not possible to start doing this in-between separate properties, we should absolutely be incorporating these on individual projects between building and even in larger development projects, such as townhouses and apartment buildings. Even if you have one attached to your house, you can invite your neighbors to join in on your garden, and turn it into a community garden!

In my years in Hawai’i, I gardened most of the time. I don’t think Id bought greens packaged in plastic in years. A lot of times, there was more food in the garden than we could eat, or take the time to process. Granted it was a lot of work. Food is something we share, something we come together over a meal for, and something that we can work together to create. I get it, it can be a full time job if you have a garden of your own, but its not that bad with a little help from your friends! And what better friend then a neighbor!

Who wants fences, utilities, walkways and erroneous plants between you and your neighbor? In higher density suburban zones these places on the outside of the house are typically un-used and quite lifeless. Now, I know its a bit of a stretch, but Im proposing shared greenhouse spaces between these homes to create a sense of cohesion and community.

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I love all things natural. I love building places we can call home and in turn be our most authentic selves. 

Although I specialize in architecture and interior design, I appreciate all forms of design where form and function are in balance.

My hope is to inspire others to find eco-friendly options valuable and beautiful. 

This is where eco meets elegance... 




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