CONNECTICUT, United States, Tuesday January 22, 2019 – Connecticut-based based Alquimi Renewables and its technology group Island AgTech, together with its strategic engineering partner Sprung Structures Ltd, have finalized development of the first fully certified Category 5 hurricane resistant greenhouse and blackhouse applications specifically designed for the Caribbean.
The greenhouse structures have been specifically engineered to secure investment in the first commercial scale protected agriculture production in regions constantly threatened by climate change and cyclonic weather events including hurricanes and typhoons. The company is focused on islands in the Caribbean and Pacific as well as affected US regions. The customized growhouse systems will support all forms of hydroponic classifications as well as soil-based farming and medical cannabis production.
Sprung has been in operation for over 100 years, and has built over 12,000 structures in over 90 countries using their proprietary stressed-membrane engineering. Many of those buildings were built to Category 5 standards and proved indestructible through actual hurricane and typhoon events. Alquimi and Island AgTech worked with the Sprung team to develop the greenhouse and blackhouse applications to withstand the worst cyclonic wind events.
“In 2017 we introduced a Category 4 rated greenhouse system, but after the hurricane events in the Caribbean in late 2017 our investors and insurance underwriters made it clear that any greenhouse infrastructure needed to meet Category 5 building codes and we’re very excited to have accomplished that,” said Ralph Birkhoff, one of the founding partners of Alquimi.
In addition, Alquimi has been working with other US partners and successfully engineered an integrated rooftop solar array for both the greenhouse and blackhouse systems. This allows food and energy production to occur on the same land site which has direct financial implications in US and French territories where agricultural land use restrictions and solar tax credits are offered. It also reduces operational energy costs in islands still dependent on fossil fuel-based electrical generation where energy costs are very high, and can even act as part of a micro-grid.
The greenhouse structures are also offered with specialized evaporative cooling, humidity control, and shading systems where high temperatures affect growing conditions.
The Caribbean region currently imports over 80 per cent of its fresh produce needs, and that demand is growing due to increased resort development and lifestyle changes.
“By substituting this food production and growing locally through hydroponic growing systems, we will be able to deliver high volumes of organic quality food with high nutrient content at a competitive cost to imports. This will have a direct and positive impact on the reduction of the logistical carbon footprint, reduction of food waste, provide longer product shelf life, improve the tourism dining experience, and in the longer term improve the health of all local residents,” the company said.
Alquimi/Island AgTech’s blackhouse systems were designed specifically to support the rapidly expanding global medical cannabis industry. The growhouses come fully insulated with customized sizes to support all forms of growing operations and can be built within weeks.
“We are getting inquiries from across Canada and the US legalized states, but in the islands like Puerto Rico and Jamaica where a Cat5 rating is required, our systems will be the key to rapid expansion,” Alquimi said.
Alquimi has projects underway across the Caribbean, Pacific, and US mainland. The company says it intends to “disrupt the current food supply chain and grow local” through its proprietary technologies.