Metrolina teams up with Chevy to reduce carbon footprint
HUNTERSVILLE – Metrolina Greenhouses is turning to some Detroit muscle to find new ways to make its 6.1 million -square-foot Huntersville greenhouse more environmentally friendly.
The company’s owners recently announced they were teaming up with Chevrolet to install a biomass boiler that will burn waste wood rather than gas or oil.
“As a large-scale operation delivering approximately 70 million plants a year, we’re committed to activities like this that help us become a greener greenhouse,” said Abe VanWingerden, co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses.
To heat the facility – which is about the size of 120 football fields – will require 36,000 tons of waste wood annually taken from land clearings. That’s about 12 tractor-trailers full of wood chips a day when the machine is running at full capacity.
The wood is purchased from local vendors who have cleared land for building or purposes other than firewood. The chips must meet a very specific standard.
Jeff Woolsey, the systems and boiler engineer for the greenhouse, said the boiler is completely automated and runs in eight-hour shifts to send heat through more than a mile of pipes throughout the facility.
And while it is more expensive to heat the building using the wood chips, Metrolina Greenhouse will be able to sell off carbon credits to offset the costs.
Metrolina Greenhouse has taken an environmental approach to its operation before. Their massive facility is specifically designed to capture rainwater. The water is collected in a retention pond and used later to water the millions of plants inside.
The conversion project is part of a five-year, $40 million investment funded by Chevrolet to tackle 16 projects across the country. Metrolina Greenhouses had already been considering building a boiler, using government grants to help offset the cost, when Chevrolet got involved.
Chevrolet’s goal is to reduce carbon dioxide outputs by eight million metric tons.
“Now that we’re committed to 16 diversified projects, we are fortified in our support of community-based, carbon-reduction initiatives,” said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet Global Marketing and Strategy, in a news release. “It’s fulfilling to back organizations working toward building a cleaner, more secure energy future.”