Passive-Solar Greenhouse Inspiration: An Underground Design

This passive-solar greenhouse checks so many boxes. First, it is up-cycled from an abandoned concrete eye-sore. It includes all sorts of efficient design features. And, with a proven track record, it has been in service for over a decade.

Above all, this is a functional greenhouse. Every aspect of this underground space was created to produce food efficiently.

A Passive-Solar Greenhouse Tour

This video tour showcases this underground passive-solar greenhouse. Visit our YouTube channel to find more videos.

Repurposing an abandoned pool

That’s right. This passive solar greenhouse was an old concrete swimming pool that has been sitting for many years before the owners repurposed it.

While the greenhouse is an “L” shape on the south-facing walls, the remainder of the space is used for hay storage, a milking barn, and even an holiday-rental loft space. It’s a lot of mileage from a decrepit old eyesore.

Features of the passive-solar greenhouse

In order to build the greenhouse space, the builder poured permanent beds out of concrete within the existing structure. He then filled the bottom of these beds with gravel to operate as a heat-holding mass.

Flexible tubes run from the top of the greenhouse, and an electric fan pushes the warm air into the bottom of the beds. Then it heats the soil and the crops.

The outside walls of the passive-solar greenhouse are lined with two layers of plastic. They can be rolled up in the heat of summer. However, when functioning as a greenhouse, a small fan blows these two layers of plastic apart, therefore increasing the insulating value.

The greenhouse also features a mirror to reflect light. Automatic watering is possible via drip irrigation. Also, there is an insulated box can be lowered over seedlings on a pulley.

Gloriously practical

Okay, so this is not the prettiest of greenhouses. Although healthy, thriving plants make it look nice throughout the year, everything in this passive-solar greenhouse is about function over form.

That said, there is something undeniable inspirational about a space that does exactly what it was created to do—and does it extremely well.

To see an attractive she-shed-esque greenhouse, you can check out this post on a Beautiful Upcycled Project. (Chandelier, stenciled floor, shabby chic through and through.)

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