Dong Jianyi, an agronomist originally from China, has introduced Alberta, Canada, to large-scale greenhouses that don’t use electricity. Passive greenhouses can allow you to produce vegetables even in freezing temperatures. Dong’s Freshpal Farms is thought to be the largest commercial passive solar greenhouse in Alberta.
Passive solar greenhouses use energy from the sun, instead of electricity, to stay warm. Producing electricity requires burning a lot of fossil fuels, which has a negative impact on the Earth and causes global warming.
As an agronomist—an expert in the science of crop production—Dong was able to understand the benefits of the passive greenhouses widely used in his home country of China to grow crops even when it is below freezing outside. Like many parts of China, Alberta gets extremely cold in the winter. But the unique design of the passive greenhouses allows temperatures inside to remain warm enough to grow vegetables. Dong said that using these greenhouses saves him around $30,000 a year in electricity bills.