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AHRC Wheelchair Accessible Greenhouse Final Design Report

May 5th, 2008

Christopher Elizondo Cesar Herrera Malcolm Bressendorf Laticia Lee

Primary Facilitator Secondary Facilitator Process Manager Relations Specialist

cje2109@columbia.edu cah2166@columbia.edu mtb2115@columbia.edu lml2147@columbia.edu

E1102 Design Fundamentals Using Advanced Computing Technologies Sec004 Jack McGourty-Instructor Jose Sanchez-Instructor Nora Khanaria-Project Advisor Ken Cronin-Project Partner Michael Kaplan-Project Partner

Executive Summary The AHRC, an institution that specializes in the assistance of others, came to the Gateway class with a concept to help better their mission, facilities, and members well being. The creation of a greenhouse that is wheelchair accessible, low maintenance, and solar powered were the central criterion for a project that has now evolved into a preliminary design. Through group meetings, in-class client visits, background research, and on-site familiarization, the team has been able to craft a problem space in which it can operate. The group understands the issues that present themselves when designing the greenhouse that is desired by the AHRC. A lack of direct sunlight and universal accessibility are the most pressing issues in the design of the structure. The American Disabilities Act dictates many of the dimensions required for universal accessibility to be attained. By adhering to these guidelines, the functionality of the space is optimized, as any member of the AHRC would be able to operate the desired greenhouse. These problems that initially faced the group have be surmounted by the application of problem solving skills and basic design concepts. The design of greenhouse with a high angular sloping roof has been implemented in order to maximize the amount of incoming light from the Sun. To harness the power of the sun, thermal units have been included in the final design. Water has been chosen as the medium that wills serve as the active component in the thermal storage vessel. The walls of the greenhouse have been assigned as brick on some portions on the outside to provide a firm surround with polycarbonates on the other sections. This designs for maximum heat retention and longevity of the greenhouse. An alternative solution is the presence of an outdoor patio; this will serve as an additional functional space and a way to keep the present outdoor garden relevant. The design today is without a full patio and has not been included in the final design. The group has compiled information in the following pages that examine aspects of the design project in a manner this is both scholarly and concise. The group has moved to a final design that completes the desired parameters of the client and solves the issues presented by the environment in which it will exist.

Background Research From inception of the AHRC Cyril Weingold greenhouse project, the team communicated with the client and did much subsequent research to enhance the understanding of both the clients needs and simple necessities of a greenhouse. In context, the team was presented with the task of prototyping a greenhouse capable of being manufactured in order to allow for the facilitys workers to have a recreational outlet. Due to the northeastern location of New York, a rather difficult growing spot nestled between a building and a slope, and previous failed attempts at small scale gardening, the client determined a greenhouse to be an effective choice. To begin singling out a desirable, executable greenhouse designs the team underwent mass research of the market climate. This yielded many points of consideration. The type of greenhouse requested by the client is referred to as a stand alone shed-type. The shed-type greenhouse must be oriented to have its long axis running from east to west with a sloped side facing true south (Bellows). The team assessed the clients allotted space for the greenhouse and determined that it suited such criteria. To reduce the effects of inevitably poor light distribution in the east-west oriented greenhouse, the north wall should be covered or painted with reflective material (Bellows). The most notable aspect of this type of greenhouse is that the slope of its south wall can be altered depending on the latitude of the respective area. With New York being in the northeastern part of the United States, the slope must be between forty to sixty degrees, the steepest of possible shed-type slopes (Bellows). Determined by the team to be perhaps the most important aspect of the greenhouse is its glazing. Glazing refers to the film of material applied to the inner walls of the greenhouse that permits light to enter as well as prevents it from leaving. For the clients needs it was decided that the best glazing to consider is triple walled polycarbonate. Things that make this a winning candidate are its long life span, durability, and its favorable light transmittance and retention rate. To specifically address the issue of minimal heat during colder months, most greenhouses have thermal heat storage vessel placed throughout the greenhouse. These vessels utilize a liquids ability to retain heat longer than air and subsequently release it during periods where the heat of the surrounding air has long since left. The amount of vessels used varies greatly from region to region and oftentimes even within a specific region it may come down to the type of plants, the type of liquid, or personal preferences based on prior experience. For all practical purposes, the team determined that the appropriate ratio for the clients needs is 2 gallons of water per square foot of glazing on the south face. These vessels should be a dark color to absorb as much heat as possible. Other points of heavy consideration for the team in the process of designing the greenhouse include: an insulated perimeter of the exterior foundation because the greenhouse will be surrounded by a parking lot; an insulated north wall because that is the wall where heat tends to exit; and the necessary procedures for preventing hot air from escaping through cracks and vents during winter months (Smith). Cumulatively, this background research culminated in a feasible, practical greenhouse design optimized for our clients needs.

Formal Problem Statement The AHRC is an institution that lends a helping hand to mentally challenged and disabled members of its surrounding community. A current outdoor garden exists, but due to the presence of high winds plant life has difficulty growing into healthy specimens. In an effort to create a green area with social and therapeutic activities, the AHRC wishes to construct a greenhouse that will shield plant life from the harshness of the northeastern environment. The available space where the greenhouse is to be constructed does not adhere to the criteria for a prime location of a greenhouse. The greenhouse will be built between two structures, one of which exceeds the height of the greenhouse, therefore limiting the crucial sunlight that is needed. This issue leads to a problem of choosing a wall material that both allows sunlight in at high rates, as well as an ability to hold and insulate the heat needed for homeostasis. As the AHRC is a center for persons with varying disabilities, the projected design must also entail features that adhere strictly to the American Disabilities Act. To explain, the ADA mandates dimensions that guarantee universal accessibility for all persons. The design dimensions must bear in mind the guidelines of the ADA so that all members of the AHRC can take advantage of the greenhouse. Design Specifications From inception, the team was given several requirements that the client held high and that were integral to a successful greenhouse build. Firstly, the greenhouse must be capable of enduring harsh winters due to the fact that it will be located in New York City, a place with notable wintertime lows and harsh wind patterns. This means various approaches must be implemented to retain warmth or even independently warm the greenhouse. Conventional solutions for retaining heat utilize the storage of liquids within the greenhouse. The idea here is for these liquid containers to absorb the natural heat permitted into the greenhouse. Liquids retain this absorbed heat much longer than the air inside the greenhouse and are thus able to release the heat back into the air over a longer period of time than the air itself can maintain its heat. As far as independent heating systems are concerned its not uncommon to use specially designed heating lamps to keep plants warm and facilitate plant growth. Another preliminary requirement involved the greenhouses wheelchair accessibility. Aside from being a staple in modern society, this aspect is a natural choice for the AHCR due to its membership of people with varying physical and mental disabilities. Wheelchair accessibility is clearly an integral factor as it plays a large role in the general design of the greenhouse, most notably the size and distribution of objects and features inside the greenhouse. Our final preliminary consideration was the request for the greenhouse to be low maintenance. This implied a greenhouse of relatively simple, resilient fauna that had its major needs fulfilled through automated systems. Such automatable processes are the water/ nutrients system of the plants in addition to the sterilization of the soil, both of which are essential for a greenhouse to persist.

After meeting the client and actually visiting the site, the scope in terms of engineering was expanded leaving the team to reassess various issues. Though the team was provided with photographs upon meeting the client and told to fit the greenhouse within the parking lot, the true dimensions of the project were conceivable upon visitation. The size of the lot was in fact smaller than the team had anticipated causing the team to reconsider certain design requirements defined in the preliminary phase. For example, the small size would limit the amount of liquid storage containers permissible within the greenhouse. Generally it would be preferable to have as many as possible during wintertime. Also, the accessibility to wheelchair would mean fewer lanes than initially thought possible, leaving us with perhaps an elongated single-lane greenhouse with plants on either side. Upon visiting the site the lack of sunlight is immediately evident. From photos it appeared that a nearby railroad was on level ground with the parking lot, but in actuality it overshadows it meaning the greenhouse is blocked from both the AHRC building and railroad on adjacent sides. This lack of sunlight means that any sunlight that is received must be maximized. This will most likely result in a thin fiberglass resin used to permit light through. This also relates to the heat retaining properties of the greenhouse because the resin used also determines the ability of the greenhouse to retain heat as well as permit it. As the thickness of the resin , more heat that can be retained, but less sunlight is permitted to pass. Some constraints associated with the teams proposed problem statement include the need for a low cost/budget greenhouse as well as one that is of low maintenance. Since the client is responsible for creating the necessary funding needed to put the greenhouse project in motion, the client has requested that our project solution be of reasonable economic feasibility for the size of center such as the AHRC. By designing the greenhouse to universal accessibility standards, we are in turn helping the client because this intrinsic feature makes the project more desirable in the debate for federal or private grants. The major focal point of the final design is that the greenhouse will be wheelchair accessible. In a closer examination of this constraint, one can see that these certain implementations have to be modified to create a wheelchair accessible greenhouse. First the entrance must be wide enough to accommodate for a wheelchair to enter. Also the tables which house the different plant-life need to be high enough for employees or visitors using wheelchairs to comfortably reach the plants. The client stressed the importance of the height of the tables. They even strongly suggested a specific design of table that should act as a model for the group. Final Designs Having thoroughly refined the problem space and identified various aspects of the design specifications and functional requirements, the team has crafted a final design that fully address the issues at hand and do so in the most effective way possible. The greenhouse must endure New York City winter climate, which falls between temperate and extreme (3-5 winter months where average temperatures fall below freezing) (Smith). Adding to the complexity of the situation is the little received sunlight of the specific location. The team has been designing a greenhouse optimized specifically for these conditions. A shed-type solar

greenhouse has been designated the preferable choice. All greenhouses collect solar energy, but solar greenhouses are designed not only to collect this energy but also to store heat in colder or cloudy weather (Bellows). Because the solar greenhouse is a shed-type, its long axis will be running from east to west. Ideally the greenhouse should face within twenty degrees either side of true south where it can optimally receive any kind of sunlight (Smith). The south facing wall is glazed to collect optimum amounts of solar energy, while the north-facing wall is insulated to prevent heat loss (Bellows). To reduce the effects of poor light distribution the north wall will be covered or painted with reflective materials. Because New York City has an average sunshine percent range of only 49-65 percent, this was decisive (Smith). Also due to region, the shed-type greenhouse must have a roof angle slope of anywhere between forty to sixty degrees (Bellows). This is preferable for northern latitudes. The glazing material used to permit sunlight and retain heat will be a polycarbonate multi-layer. There will be approximately 1.125 square feet of glazing for each square foot of floor space as determined to be an ideal proportion based on recommended values for efficiency. To aid in the greenhouses ability to retain heat thermal storage vessels will be utilized in addition to a possible furnace/heating lamps. If water is to be used as the thermal vessel then anywhere three to five gallons per square foot of south facing glazing is favorable for New Yorks latitude (Smith). Additionally, the general shed-type dimensions will easily fit into the 17x55 foot parking lot frame. Rounding out the build concepts is the ground insulation. Because the greenhouse will be surrounded by asphalt it is has been deemed a strong desire to provide ground insulation. This would ensure no heat loss due to a freezing ground. To implement this final idea all that is necessary is to have a strong, inch thick insulator surrounding the perimeter of the foundation, from footing to top. Having completed the final design, the group strongly agrees this is the ideal build strategy the team has constructed to address the problem spaces. Alternative Solutions During the course of our project to date, our team has explored many alternate solutions to our proposed project plan. One alternate solution is to not include the patio surrounding the greenhouse. Since the addition of a patio surrounding the greenhouse adds a challenge to the teams proposed problem statement, neglecting to include it would reduce problem constraints. With these problem constraints reduced, the team can better deal with finding a solution that meets all of the clients requirements without having to make too many sacrifices. Although the idea of not including a patio didnt immediately sit well with the client, a compromise was reached to include a patio-like area with tables and chairs. This reduced any further problems with the constraints, yet it also caused the area allotted for the solar greenhouse to be reduced. The group explored many solutions that dealt with the solar greenhouse itself. One such solution included the actual type of greenhouse that we wanted to use. The team researched many different types of greenhouses, from the different materials that they are made out of, to the different layouts. All of the different types of materials that were explored could be alternate solutions to our proposed project plan. Another alternate solution that was looked into early on in the project planning process was the idea of rotating shelves. These shelves that house the plant-life would adjust heights using a

simple pulley system. All users of the solar greenhouse could then adjust the height of the tables to best suit their height specifications. The next alternate solution dealt with the lack of solar energy for plant-life given the greenhouse location. The team explored the aspect of using fluorescent lighting within the greenhouse in order to sustain plant-life. Since this alternate solution clashed with one of many constraints that arose from the proposed problem statement: low maintenance, the team turned to the idea of using solar panels instead. Due to this fact, the team decided to go with solar panels that were made with a cheaper yet sun efficient material. The last alternate solution explored dealt with the heating system of the greenhouse. The client emphasized that the greenhouse must be able to retain heat in order for the various plant-life to survive the harsh winters of New York. At first the team explored using heating lamps, but like the fluorescent lighting alternate solution, this solution fell within the low maintenance constraint. Transition Plans and User Documentation While the AHRC project description is unique in its own facets, the overall design of a greenhouse has been a customary, practical, and useful scenario for many other Gateway groups in the past. A common thread combated by many of the design groups is the problem of heat retention because of the harsh winter climates here in New York City and the lack of sunlight during those months. While the group has chosen thermal storage vessels as a means of heating the interior of the greenhouse during the winter periods, a future group could expand this project by optimizing the efficiency of gatherable sunlight, thereby reducing the strain on the storage vessels. By reducing the need for these vessels through enhanced rates of light gathering, the amount of usable space increases for plant life to flourish; inherently maximizing the original intent of a greenhouse. If a future group needed an initial setting to begin the research for their project, the AHRC group strongly recommends the online Patent Office of the United States. The patent office provided fantastic beacon for guiding the most element aspects of the groups design. The following images provided the inspiration for our designs:

The design that has been produced by this AHRC group, while having solved issues that are applicable to many other greenhouses, does not merit a paten application because the design involves a design that is currently a patent. Also the greenhouse has been made wheelchair accessible solely through the positioning of aisle ways and pre-specified door widths; inferring that there is no new idea being pursued in our designs which would need the protection of a patent. However the group does feel that it has put forth an effort in improving a design and implementing it in an environment where it is needed.

Appendix A Gantt Chart

Updat ed Gantt Chart


Appendix B Product Design Specifications Product title AHRC Cyril Weingold greenhouse Purpose To provide a wheelchair accessible and interactive place of recreation for members of the Cyril Weingold facility Special Features Greenhouse will have automated irrigation and soil sterilization methods and be optimized for cold winter months Need for product The AHRC desires for a way for its members to have access to outside recreation during break times while enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the surrounding area. Price No given budgets for cost and operation of the greenhouse, but the most economical options have take priority yielding a market price of ~ Functional Requirements System that cares for the plants is simple, but robust enough to sustain the plants. Effectively retains heat energy Effectively permits light to pass through Provides independent heat sources Physical Requirements Conforms to size specifications put forth in the American Disabilities Act Fits inside the clients parking lot Is comfortable to navigate by foot or wheelchair Standard stand-alone shed shape Semi-transparent Service Environment Greenhouse should be able to operate effectively during cold New York City winter when temperatures often stabilize in the teens or low twenties. Weather resistant and durable Able to capitalize on what little light is available in area.


Life-Cycle Issues Automated care systems must have long term life of at least 10 years before any replacement necessary Easy to repair and/or exchange machinery parts Glassfiber sections of greenhouse must be simple to remove and exchange Human Factors Provides level of interactivity Safe for all people to use Intuitive to use Easy to train individuals on how to maintain greenhouse Corporate Constraints Construction will be carried out by contracted suppliers Legal Requirements Must meet all U.S. regulations No toxic materials to be associated with manufacture Greenhouse design may require license to U.S. patent 5,261,184


Appendix C Budget Estimates and Materials Lists Note: Cost estimates assume greenhouse dimensions of 12x30 feet. Values in parentheses indicate cost per square foot (in $). Steel tubes with 5 foot spacing for frame: $313.20 (0.87) Glazing Two Layers of 6mm Polycarbonate (10 year life): $432 (1.20) Inflation Equipment: $7.20 (0.02) Attachment Apparatus: $50.40 (0.14) End Walls Polycarbonate sheet and frame (10-year life): $226.80 (0.63) Two welded aluminum back door (3 ft by 7 ft ea.): $50.40 (0.14) Assembly and installation: $486 (1.35) Heating System Gas unit heater (225,000 Btu): $90 (0.25) Control panel (1-stage heating/3-stage cooling): $54 (0.15) Floor Grading Minimal Slope: $39.60 (0.11) Perimeter base--treated 2-inch by 6-inch lumber: $18(0.05) Plastic for ground cover (3oz/sq. ft.): $25.20 (0.07) Power and Utility Sources Well (15 gal/min): $338.40 (0.94) Basic irrigation hookups: $28.80 (0.08) Electrical service: $61.20 (0.17) Liquid propane gas tank hookup: $28.80(0.08) Benches Coated wire--14 gauge, 1-inch grid: $147.60 (0.41) Treated lumber frame, 2-inch by 4-inch: $79.20 (0.22) Cinder block legs: $25.20 (0.07) Cooling and Ventilation System Two-speed, hp, 42-inch fan: $90 (0.25) Four horizontal air flow fans: $50.40 (0.14) Labor Costs: ~$2850 Note: Labor costs are based on estimates from similar greenhouses and assume one builder, one journeyman grade carpenter, one part-time skilled helper, and one part-time semi-skilled helper.


Total Estimated Preliminary Budget: ~$5500 Contingency Budget: ~$7000


Appendix D List of Resources Appeldom, Roger H. Greenhouse construction and improved method of growing plants Accessed: 16 Feb 2008. http://www.google.com/patents ?vid=USPAT5261184 Bellows, Barbara. Solar Greenhouses, 2003 < http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/solar-gh.html#designs> 16 February 2008, ATTRA Publication #IP142 Mann, Lisa Anderson. Total Landscape Care Drip Irrigation. March 2008. P.63-64 Smith, Shane. Greenhouse Gardeners Companion. New York, 2000. Greenhouse Gardeners Companion. 2004. Charleys Greenhouse and Garden. 21 March 2008 < http://www.greenhousegarden.com/energy.html