Passive Solar Greenhouses & Why They Matter

For those interested in energy conservation and reduction, food resiliency and water harvesting, a passive solar greenhouse may be for you. Designed to heat and cool itself with no additional energy gadgets, a passive solar greenhouse will save you money on your energy bills while simultaneously helping the planet. Not convinced? Keep reading!

It’s all about energy storage

The real value of passive solar greenhouses lies in their ability to reduce both lighting and heating energy costs while maintaining or extending a growing season. Little to no supplementary heating, gas, or electricity sources are required when a passive solar greenhouse is in place – the direct result of a system called heat banking. This system involves absorbing and storing heat in the ground during summer months and the exhalation of this heat into the greenhouse during the winter. Heat banking is also done through the use of thermal mass walls which are thick walls constructed to collect heat during the day and give it off at night. These unique systems allow you to greatly extend your growing season.

Food & plant production

By not allowing produce and plants to freeze for an extended period of time, passive solar greenhouses extend the length of your growing season. This helps combat food scarcity, something that an all-glass greenhouse would not be able to accomplish year-round. Climate permitting, a passive solar greenhouse is also a controlled environment, meaning that you can grow both traditional food crops as well as non-traditional food. By reducing the risk of below- zero internal temperatures, passive solar greenhouses help all kinds of plants and food crops thrive, regardless of their different growing temperatures.

Get the most out of your greenhouse

The smallest passive solar greenhouses available are 10 feet wide by 20 feet long or a 2:1 ratio. Greenhouses of this size can easily fit in most average-sized backyards and are capable of producing enough food to supply both you and your family, while extending your growing season. . While food production is a huge perk of passive solar greenhouses, there are many other ways to get the most out of your home’s greenhouse and the food you produce. OnGrowing Works’ and collaborator Verge Permaculture, break this information down into six, easily digestible tips:

  1. Make a passive solar greenhouse an addition to your home – preferably not directly tied to the home in order to manage humidity
  2. Harvest rainwater from your roof to irrigate your plants
  3. Add a wood-fired hot tub, bathe in the rainwater and use the remaining amount to irrigate your plants
  4. Store your harvest in a canning kitchen and root cellar
  5. Look into and consider other efficiency-enhancing, luxury elements to further utilize your greenhouse
  6. Use the passive solar greenhouse to house animals, like chickens or bees, in the colder months

Possibilities & opportunities

The possibilities for passive solar greenhouses are endless. While you can choose to implement one of these greenhouses in their most simplistic form for energy-saving and food production purposes, passive solar greenhouses can also be tailored and expanded on to suit your own lifestyle and preferences. OnGrowing Works takes pride in our solar greenhouse capabilities, as demonstrated through our recent partnership with Cultivate Cochrane to design and build a mobile, educational passive solar greenhouse for hands-on learning, skill building and connection through food. Learn more about “The Passive Solar Roller” here.

Passive solar greenhouses help those who use them to achieve food resilience, enhance their sustainable lifestyle and save money. If any or all of these things sound appealing to you, contact us to inquire about designing and constructing your own greenhouse today.


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Ready to begin your project? Contact us now to get started.

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Ready to begin your project? Contact us now to get started.

OnGrowing Works Ltd.

Head Office
125 River Avenue
Cochrane, AB T4C 2C2

Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

60 Lincoln Park
Canmore, AB T1W 3E9

Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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: (403) 932 3766

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