This course will teach the design, construction and effective utilization of greenhouses. A survey of structural principles, material limitations, macro/micro environmental design principles, enclosure options, and existing greenhouse archetypes will be discussed in the classroom and in the field as students tour area greenhouses with opportunities for hands-on building and learning. This course will also consider how a greenhouse enclosure can be integrated into, and influence, the interior spaces of existing buildings. Students will get an overview of the environmental principles and guidelines that designers employ in designing buildings that benefit from the natural energies that are ambient in our world. The course begins with an understanding of how the sun’s orientation from dawn to dusk contributes to the solar passive heat gain with respect to the location and orientation of a greenhouse, and concludes with the basic understanding of assembling a home built greenhouse.


Course start time: Saturday, 9am
Course end time: Sunday, 5pm

  • Competency Level: All Levels
  • Sterling College credits: 1 Continuing Education Unit ($130 additional)

Course Objectives

Students enrolled in this course will learn the principles of greenhouse design and be able to apply those principles in order to design a greenhouse to best fit their own design criteria.

Suggested Reading

Elliot Colemans. Four Season Harvest

Materials/Tools to Bring

  • Laptop computer with a free download of the program ‘Google Sketchup', if you can.
  • Camera

Course Schedule

Saturday 9am - noon

  • Introductions
  • History with Design/Build in Greehouses
  • Information reference for building a greenhouse from scratch;site layout, tools required, rules of thumb to follow and pros and cons
  • Site location information; ground preparation, attached verses free standing structures and material choices

Saturday 1pm - 5pm

  • Display greenhouse prototype and go over design and building methods used
  • Provide students with connection jigs to take home and discuss option in reference to pitch ranges
  • Discuss covering options and how to apply
  • Ventilation methods and shading options
  • Ground planting vs. planted benches
  • Irrigation
  • Lighting
  • Pest Control



Sunday 9am - noon

  • Tour / survey of greenhouse archetypes. Permanent, mobile, etc.

Sunday 1pm - 5 PM

  • Design session
Start Date: May 24, 2014
Duration: 2 Days
Tuition: $350
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