German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)

iDiv Research Greenhouse

What are the aims of the research greenhouse?

The research greenhouse serves all projects that contribute to the key questions of iDiv and thereby depend on a greenhouse for growing plants and conducting experiments.

Who can use the greenhouse?

All members of iDiv working groups, iDiv members, students and scientists from universities worldwide who come to iDiv to answer important questions about biodiversity together.

More information on use in the iDiv intranet

The building

  • Total floor area: 1,075m²
  • Greenhouse area (Venlo type): 410m²
  • 12 experimental cabins, 26m² each
  • 2 S1 cabins (S2-capable)
  • 2 laboratories, walk-in cold room (13m²), working area (30m²) and storage (25m²)
  • Thermoregulation via thermal solar system and recooling units

The greenhouse cabins

  • Sensors for temperature, humidity, suction voltage and photon current density
  • 2 tables per cabin (5m2 each)
  • Height-adjustable assimilation lighting
  • Combined fan convectors for temperature regulation
  • Single drip irrigation system (drinking water, nutrient dosing)
  • Shading between cabins to reduce light interference
  • Ventilation with insect screens in the entire roof area

The technical control centre

  • 10m³ cooling and heat buffer
  • 2 compressors with a cooling capacity of 150kW
  • Absorption refrigerating machine with a cooling capacity of 75kW
  • District heating station with 170kW
  • Drinking, pouring, dosing and osmosis water system
  • High-pressure fog pump with 120bar pressure
  • Compressed air boiler
  • Emergency system with 180kVA generator and 70kW boiler

Requirements for the iDiv research greenhouse

An important premise of the iDiv research greenhouse is to ensure maximum flexibility for basic research as well as innovative future research projects. The construction was not based on concrete questions, but in anticipation of as many different demands of future researchers as possible.

The first requirement is the variability of climatic conditions. Greenhouse experiments often investigate processes that cannot be measured in the field – or only to a very limited extent. Higher temperatures in the field are usually accompanied by higher light irradiation. It is therefore important to separate the factors.

The second requirement is the correct scientific replication of experiments. A scientific hypothesis can only be tested in a statistically sound manner if it is examined on at least three independent units (replicates).

The third requirement is to be able to conduct studies on genetically modified plants. This requires an S1 area, which is ensured with two individual cabins.

The fourth requirement is ideal conditions for preparing and harvesting scientific experiments. The greenhouse forms a self-contained, well thought-out overall complex that provides sufficient space for almost all necessary work before and after an experiment.

Innovative technology of the entire building

The innovative building concept is based on two cornerstones:

Reduction of heating and cooling demand

Innovative supply — especially with cold for cooling the greenhouse cabins at high outdoor temperatures and high solar radiation

The efficiency of these measures was compared in advance with a reference greenhouse by determining the heat demand. The reference greenhouse has the following parameters:

  • roofing of the exterior, partition and roof surfaces with single glass (4mm),
  • no additional energy screen systems or external screen systems,
  • analogue regulation.

For the iDiv research greenhouse, instead, the following energy-saving measures are taken into account:

  • roofing of the exterior and partition walls with insulating glass (24mm),
  • roofing with white glass, single-pane safety glass (4mm), UV-permeable,
  • multi-layer energy screen systems in the roof area,
  • consideration of external screen systems in the glass-covered area,
  • DDC-based climate control system.

The results of the heat demand calculation with the simulation programme HORTEX 4.1 show that the heat energy consumption can be reduced by approx. 50%. By using a greenhouse-specific climate control computer, the energy costs can be reduced by another 10% compared to an analogue controller.


Prof Alexandra Weigelt

Phone: +49 341 9738594

Ricardo Müller
Technical Employee

Phone: +49 341 9733270

The research greenhouse was financed with funds from the European Union and the Free State of Saxony.

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