Updated: Jul 7

The effects of climate change are increasingly impacting global food supply chains and forcing a re-evaluation of how individuals and communities access food, now and in the future.



A collaborative project between the University of Alberta researchers and Exceed Solar, an Edmonton based renewable energy company, is set out to study and perfect cold climate greenhouses in an effort to increase locally grown food supplies in colder climates, a trend that continues to evolve as food prices continue to climb as a result of shipping and storage costs, coupled with climate change impact on food growing and supply regions.

The partnership project, which includes building and installing a solar-powered off-grid greenhouse at the University of Alberta Students' Union's community garden at the U of A's East Campus Village, involves researchers in mechanical engineering, permaculture, Civil Engineering, Sustain SU: The Student Sustainability Service, and the Renewable Energy Design Group. The focus of the research will be on new technologies designed to improve the performance of greenhouses in the production of food, and testing advanced food growing methods using permaculture.

“We are extremely excited to be working with world class researchers in an area that is becoming increasingly significant in terms of food production,” said John Putters, CEO of Exceed Solar. “Our approach is to test new technologies in solar energy, performance monitoring, heating systems, and food production with the overall objective of bringing these technologies to market for a practical purpose.”

The project is set to get underway in the spring/summer of 2020 with the construction and implementation of Exceed Solar’s sustainable greenhouse, powered by solar energy and includes water retrieval and retention systems. The 120 square foot greenhouse is designed for residential and community use, but can be scaled up to accommodate industrial scale structures. The new greenhouse will be instrumented with the help of engineering researchers to provide a continuous assessment of its performance. In this way, Exceed Solar’s sustainable greenhouse will serve as a testbed to research new technologies and to train University of Alberta students in applying sustainable principles.

"Renewable energy design is driven by this project as it will not only provide students the education of solar energy and sustainable permaculture but also serve as a foundation of research for professors. We are very excited to contribute to this project." said Larry Zhong, President of Renewable Energy Design Group. exceed@exceedsolar.com 8634 -53 Avenue Edmonton, AB T6E 5G2 EXCEEDSOLAR.COM

About Exceed Solar

Exceed Solar creates sustainable, scalable living spaces and community solutions by leveraging renewable energy and smart technologies. Branded under the name “Sol Spaces,” Exceed’s modern living spaces are the next generation of housing solutions, incorporating scalability, sustainability and renewable energy to become the most efficient living spaces available on the market.

#greenhouseproject2021 #solspaces #solstudio #exceedsolar

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Updated: Jul 7


My name is Monica Bassili and I am a third-year Bachelor of Arts student double majoring in Political Science and Human Geography and Planning. I am not ashamed to say that I am a low-income student. This can often be discouraging and seem like a self-serving statement that victimizes and reduces my identity or it can produce resilience and strength.


Working and studying is not uncommon for students to tackle amidst entering their respective university program, but it ought not to characterize one’s ability to secure and maintain proper nutrition. What has emerged from ‘work and school culture’ is the myth that overextending one’s intellectual, physical, and psychological earning capacities is perfectly acceptable and encouraged. Not only is it encouraged, but if one actively pushes themselves to burnout, this is regarded as a sign of good worth ethic, rather than the neglect of mental and physical health.


Pushing oneself to burnout puts students in the position of compromising their nutrition for the benefit of their studies or their work life. I cannot recall how many half-size Italian Center Shop Panino sandwiches I have consumed during my full-time position in their southside pizzeria, but I can confirm that this diet tremendously affected my mental and physical capacities. A steady diet of bread soaked in olive oil with sliced meat and cheese can only go so far in supporting a student’s capacity to focus in class, complete assignments, and succeed during exam season.


Unfortunately at the time, this was my only opportunity to have any form of nutrition in my diet. Although there was fresh produce 100 meters away from me in another department, a grilled sandwich was the most convenient, and importantly, the cheapest option.


People’s individual dietary decisions are not the problem, rather, the circumstances in which they find themselves manifest in destructive habits. Again, themes of despair and hopelessness emerge, but I would argue that there is hope coming in the form of fresh produce: a solar greenhouse in the heart of the University of Alberta’s North Campus.


The Renewable Energy Design Club has taken the initiative to design and construct a solar greenhouse in East Campus Village for the use, cultivation, and engagement of the university community. The greenhouse will feed students all-year-round, even during Edmonton’s coldest months. Importantly, the food produced is provided at no cost to students, staff, faculty, or campus residents.


I want to emphasize that this is a collective effort by university students, staff, and professionals interested in addressing the nutritional needs of low-income students. For too long students have tirelessly suffered the “success” related to working and studying full-time and have not had the opportunity, access, or availability of fresh produce to maintain a healthy and consistent diet.


The construction of this greenhouse would profoundly change the way low-income students like myself perceive our campus and its inclusivity of all income levels. University is already an isolating place for students who can not afford the time to engage in extracurricular activities, but a solar greenhouse can be an efficient and manageable way for low-income students to engage their campus while simultaneously establishing a pattern of healthy eating.


I am eager to interact with the solar greenhouse following its construction in Spring 2021

and I hope that low-income students can use this resource as a means of manifesting their financial struggles into resiliency and ultimately, strengthening their minds and bodies under intense circumstances.







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Updated: Jul 7

Students and Staff at the University of Alberta North Campus will have

all-year-access to fresh, sustainable produce.


December 9, 2020


The University of Alberta’s North Campus students and staff will have access to a solar greenhouse where they can cultivate fresh produce within a dense, urban environment. It is easy to forget how significant agriculture is in our daily lives when cities de-prioritize greenspaces as they are deemed inferior to established industrial development and urban planning practices. Such a heavy focus on developing concrete focused clusters has undermined the profound benefits that greenspaces provide to public health and quality of life.


Students are often busy studying, working, or doing both to sustain themselves throughout their university education. This schedule leaves little time for meal planning, which includes securing a healthy amount of fresh produce. Financial difficulties can create another barrier for students and perpetuates the inequality of access to fresh food. The Campus Food Bank and Fresh Routes have made positive impacts on the university community by providing additional support to students in financial need, but what more could be added to improve upon student financial and environmental sustainability?


A solar greenhouse not only operates as a public health service to its users but actively reducing the community’s carbon emissions. Edmonton-based renewable energy company Exceed Solar has partnered with the University of Alberta to build a year-round solar greenhouse that emphasizes locally sourced produce and sustainable agricultural development. The company uses the term ‘Sol Spaces’ for their projects because they understand the many barriers, such as minimal access to green spaces, facing urban communities and they present a straightforward and attainable approach to sustainable urban greenhouses. Sol Spaces challenges traditional living spaces by introducing green spaces that rely solely on sustainable solar energy.


As part of a collaborative effort involving student groups Sustain SU and the Renewable Energy Design Group (R.E.D.), a solar-powered off-grid greenhouse will make its way to the Student’s Union community garden at the U of A’s East Campus Village. North Campus researchers from various fields including engineering and permaculture will execute the building and installing of the greenhouse.


By engaging students in learning about sustainable permaculture and solar energy, students can enrich their existing post-secondary education experiences and add an environmental lens to their future work and research. Practical work via building, maintaining, or consuming the greenhouses’ yields enable student access to fresh produce all-year and provides every student with an opportunity to involve themselves in any respect they wish.


Sustainable development is overlooked for its supposed inefficiency and impracticality in today’s urban environments. However, this initiative challenges this narrative and presents solar energy as an accessible, durable, and sustainable net-zero alternative. The university community will be able to enjoy thriving permaculture during Edmonton’s coldest months and in turn impassion students and professionals to focus their endeavours on sustainable development.


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