Science for Life

The Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station is dedicated to sustainable "science for life," in its two core separate but related functions -- the operation of world-class research facilities throughout the state and the generation and application of research-based knowledge through the administration of federal formula grants. 

Lean process makes greenhouses greener

The 164 greenhouses managed by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) are home to more than 400 research projects year round and are essential to hundreds of faculty and students. But greenhouses need a lot of energy to provide the controlled environments needed for research.  

Staff and faculty from CUAES and Organizational Effectiveness worked together to use the “Lean” process improvement approach to save on greenhouse energy without diminishing the essential value of Cornell’s greenhouses.  

Kendra Hutchins, greenhouse grower and Lean Team member

Teams analyzed how space is requested, assigned and turned over from one researcher to another. They identified steps in plant care and project support and calculated cost and carbon emissions, searching for ways to streamline processes.

Then teams went to work, reorganizing inventory, creating communications tools and developing a plan to retire some of the most inefficient greenhouses. The results are impressive: the carbon footprint could be reduced by more than one million pounds annually and Cornell could save over $400,000 a year. 

Read the whole article 

Greenhouse Lean initiative webpage for researchers

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