Greenhouse for Glenside Elementary School

A greenhouse for Glenside Elementary with integrated anaerobic digester for kitchen residues and aerobic composting toilets.
A greenhouse for Glenside Elementary with integrated anaerobic digester for kitchen residues and aerobic composting toilets.


I first seized upon the approaching demolition of my old elementary school as a prime opportunity. There was an exceptional south-facing, east-west running hillside into which a greenhouse could have been built using windows and masonry from the old school. A 3-4’ in diameter, rubber tube digester would have been set against the inside back wall of the greenhouse and would have been fed cafeteria scraps — and perhaps other food scraps from some local restaurants. Composting toilets would have been placed in each of the equipment rooms at both ends of the greenhouse. Thus, both pathways for the semi-cycle of return would have been manifested along with all of the possibilities for (re)growth both within the greenhouse and on its roof.

Massive heat storage (now, demolition “wastes”) beneath the greenhouse and anterooms, and photovoltaics along the edge of the roof garden, would have allowed the installation to be energy independent. The project offered significant financial and economic as well as educational and environmental benefits. What with complications like reuse of so many materials and much heavy equipment easily available on site, the envisioned project did not get so far as a comprehensive benefit-cost analysis. Nevertheless, I remain confident that such an analysis would argue for installation. (I figure the digester and related equipment for the project would have come in at no more than $6-7,000 — and possibly much less.)
It seemed to me that the educational value gained by and from children living with such an installation would make it undeniably attractive. Little did I understand the functioning of school board bureaucracies… Even though the system received high praise from functionaries and demolition was not to begin for nearly six months, the greenhouse was judged to be far too late for consideration.
I still have hopes that such a system may be taken up after the new school is completed — or at some other school where local sustainability will be increasingly recognized as important. In hopes of furthering such activity, I have developed a series of 13 diagrams of spheres of concerns and effects related to such a system – a simple overview, a more detailed overview, and separate diagrams for each of the primary areas of concern. I continue to seek the right place.


Green House Simple Overview

Greenhouse Detailed Overview

Greenhouse Management

Greenhouse Physical Location

Greenhouse Construction Materials

Greenhouse Operations

Greenhouse Operation Materials

Greenhouse Education Opportunities

Greenhouse Economics

Greenhouse Health


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