State of the art GroDome for the University of Sheffield

Animal and Plant Sciences Project

Case studies

State of the art GroDome for the University of Sheffield - Animal and Plant Sciences Project

The University of Sheffield department of Animal and Plant Sciences is one of the largest departments in the UK devoted to the study of whole organism biology. In the Research Assessment Exercise for 2008 it was ranked 3rd in the UK. (Source: Times Higher Education).

The Department proposed a relocation of its remote research facilities which included a controlled environment greenhouse for botanical research. Following a successful Tender procedure Unigro were appointed as members of the design team in October 2006.

The remit was to design and construct a facility which would provide a 21st Century greenhouse that would be complementary to the high quality research conducted by the University. The location selected required the issues of noise attenuation and light pollution to be given high priority.

The construction commenced in January 2008 and in January 2009 Unigro handed over to the University a GroDome which fulfilled these requirements.

The 700m complex consists of a polycarbonate research area, potting room, mechanical plant control room and store.

The 460m of research area is split into 16 controlled environment chambers equipped with supplementary horticultural lighting and irrigation. Each chamber is capable of maintaining independent temperature control between 15 - 35C and uses negative pressure to eliminate the likelihood of air borne material being transferred between chambers. The complete facility is controlled by a building management system which controls the daily mechanical operations and provides back up data to substantiate the conditions maintained in each chamber.

The system is accessed via the Internet providing remote alarms and control functionality.

The sustainable cooling is achieved with a chilled water system which has a unique underground coolth tank. This reduces running costs and provides a 36-hour failsafe system to maintain the environmental conditions without the need for shading in the event of mechanical failure.