CORVALLIS, Ore. - Researchers using Oregon State University's west greenhouse no longer need to avoid dripping water or worry about slivers of glass falling from rotting wood casings over their heads.

New tempered glass and aluminum framing have replaced deteriorating wood, rust and whitewash buildup as part of a recently completed renovation. The public is invited to an open house on Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the facility, located at 3201 S.W. Campus Way. (Note: this is the west greenhouse, between 30th and 35th streets across from the OSU Motor Pool.)

Safety was the number one concern when a decision was made seven years ago to renovate the 70,000 square-foot west greenhouse, which is at least 50 years old. "The old facilities were decrepit and dangerous," said Patrick Hayes, an OSU professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Science. "The new facilities are a world-class place to do research."

When discussions about renovation began, Jim Ervin, manager of greenhouse operations for the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Agricultural Experiment Station, sent inquiries to greenhouse manufacturers but yielded only one interested in renovating an existing facility. "We placed an order and received a pile of aluminum in May 2002, and the project began," he said.

Ervin, colleague Courtney Russell and a crew of student workers did the entire project over seven summers, removing approximately 35,000 old pieces of glass and installing more than 19,000 pieces of tempered glass. The do-it-yourself project cost $15.61 per square foot, Ervin said, compared to an estimate of $125 per square foot to build a new research greenhouse.

OSU's greenhouses provide optimum growing space primarily for researchers in botany, horticulture and crop science. Projects include vegetable, wheat, barley and hazelnut breeding, as well as potatoes grown for seed certification tests.

Ervin also said that energy consumption has dropped from 10 million units of steam to heat and cool the greenhouses in 2001 to six million units in 2009.

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Jim Ervin, 541-737-2381