In a Facebook post on November 24, the greenhouse thanked Dynamic Homes for donating its excess wood waste to be used as fuel for its two-stage biomass boiler, which can heat up to four acres of land. coverage area in the 12 acre facility. Bergen’s primarily uses two natural gas boilers, but the biomass boiler is still called upon to provide much-needed climate control during the cold winter months, said Justin Sieve, chief boiler operator for the greenhouse.
“Everything here is perishable, so if he can’t maintain the temperature he needs for the plants, they can end up dying,” Sieve said. “Or we can lose our infrastructure due to frost damage to all hot water pipes that are in the ground and above.”
A two-stage biomass boiler is set to heat the Bergen greenhouse in Detroit Lakes on December 1, 2021 as temperatures continue to drop during the winter months. The large boiler can use up to 40 cubic meters of mulched wood chips as fuel per day during the winter. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)
The greenhouse boilers heat up to 100,000 gallons of water, he said, and use a complex piping system that carries hot water throughout the facility and creates heat for growing plants, which in winter represents thousands of poinsettias.
“There’s pretty much the same heat on the floor and the same heat on the ceiling,” Sieve said. “Most commercial buildings have one or the other, we have to run both just because of the lack of R-value at night.”
Justin Sieve, chief boiler operator at Bergen’s Greenhouse in Detroit Lakes, stands next to a nearly 600 ton pile of mulched wood chips on the back yard of Bergen’s Greenhouse in Detroit Lakes on December 1, 2021. Scrap Metal was donated by Dynamic Homes of Detroit Lakes and is expected to heat part of the greenhouse during the winter. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)
R-value is a measure used to assess the effectiveness of different types of insulation, according to the US Department of Energy. A higher R-value results in higher insulation efficiency.
“A normal house goes from R-12 to R-25, we’re probably an R-3,” Sieve said. “If the heat were turned off here we would probably have 4 to 5 hours before reaching dangerous levels, so it’s a very stressful job in the winter, especially at night.”
He added that even in winter, during daylight hours, the greenhouse maintains the temperature quite well on its own, but as soon as the sun goes down the greenhouse loses its reflective energy source and the boilers switch on to provide the necessary heat.
“It can be 20 degrees below zero in February, if it’s sunny the vents try to open because it’s too hot in here,” Sieve said. “It’s absolutely amazing the power of the sun, but at 5 o’clock when the sun goes down, it’s the exact opposite. You lose everything you’ve gained during the day and try to make it up.”
A nearly 600 ton pile of mulched wood chips sits in the backyard of the Bergen Greenhouse in Detroit Lakes on December 1, 2021. The scrap wood was donated by Dynamic Homes of Detroit Lakes and is expected to heat part of it. the greenhouse through the winter. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)
The wood waste donated by Dynamic Homes is crushed into a fine mulch and is fed via a conveyor and fan system into the biomass boiler according to the settings of their temperature controls. The biomass boiler can use about 40 cubic meters of mulch as fuel each day it is in operation, and it takes Sieve about two hours to load the daily fuel into the storage container with a loader.
Sieve is a Certified Boiler Operator, which is a five year certification process, and has worked as a Boiler Manager at Bergen for approximately 10 years.
The donation partnership with Dynamic Homes occurs roughly every two years as the construction company’s junk pile grows and represents a local win-win partnership for the community, said Liz Holzer, a member of the resources staff. human resources for Dynamic Homes.
“We’re looking for opportunities to use our trash, and that’s something we’ve even done in the past with our scrap piles and things like that, which aren’t as shredded as they got.” , says Holzer. “But, yeah, we’re trying to make good decisions with our junk.”
She also said the cost of loading and transporting the scrap metal can fluctuate depending on the material. Typically, the fees range between $ 3,000 and $ 7,000, so when you get a local partner who is willing to share the transportation costs to acquire the waste from your business, it creates this win-win scenario for both. companies.
“We have also partnered with other companies on different initiatives because we just want to work locally,” Holzer said. “It’s a great community to be a part of and contribute with and for.”