Pipp mobile horticulture

Pipp mobile horticulture

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Pipp mobile horticulture school

Pipp's mobile horticulture school was a high-profile, but short-lived and controversial initiative to create "mobile greenhouses" that used wind turbines to provide power for a greenhouse, as a method of creating affordable housing. The project was launched in 2001. During 2002 the wind turbine failed to generate any electricity. After that it was discovered that the wind turbine generator had been faulty and therefore its use was deemed ineffective.

The project was criticised from all sides, from those who viewed the project as greenwash, to those who viewed it as poor housing, to those who viewed it as a potential cause of carbon emissions and to those who viewed it as an attempt to make money from a project that was financially unsustainable.

The project was supported by, and funded by, local government in the UK and by celebrities such as Alan Titchmarsh and David Dimbleby.

The idea for the project came from Pipp's former director, David Brown, who proposed the project in 1999. The project was set up as a limited company in 2001.


Pipp proposed in 2000 to his colleagues at the Pipp family business, a successful catering company, to develop a method for the mass production of greenhouses that were self-sufficient and did not require external power. The company initially developed and built their own prototype greenhouses using wind power, which proved successful. The company then turned to creating a mass production model using wind power. The initial wind turbine had a 12kW turbine in order to keep down costs. The wind turbine proved to be unreliable in the project's first years of operation, producing only a few kilowatts of power each year.

The company spent £7m developing the first project, and another £10m to install the turbines, for example in Sheffield's Meadowhall Centre and the Royal Horticultural Society's Greenhouses at Wisley in Surrey. The project was funded by the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Countryside Agency. A wind farm was installed by British Wind Power. The company has spent about £30m on the project overall.

The project also provided a model for the installation of other renewable energy projects. One of the first such projects is the Swardeston wind farm in Suffolk, England. It was built in 2003 by Green Investment Partners.

In 2008, the company took a minority shareholding in Sheffield-based renewable energy company, K2 Energy Group.

The company went into administration in September 2011 after years of poor trading conditions in the construction industry. The administration was a result of the project's exposure to the credit crunch and the high level of leverage being taken by its parent company Pipp Construction.

The administration's liquidator has applied to the High Court in London for the company to be put into administration for the third time.

Construction of the Greenhouse at RHS Wisley

In 2003, the company began a project to build a greenhouse on the RHS Wisley. The greenhouse was built by a team of over 50 staff. This project was funded by National Heritage Memorial Fund and The Countryside Agency. The RHS Wisley Greenhouse is now the UK's largest high-performance glasshouse.

The project also marked the first time that the company installed a vertical axis wind turbine, which is capable of generating up to , on an operational greenhouse. A wind turbine, also by British Wind Power, generated electricity for this project. This is also the first greenhouse in the UK to be fitted with a vertical axis wind turbine. The first generator was commissioned in 2005. The company installed a second vertical axis wind turbine in 2006, and the third in 2009. This latest vertical axis wind turbine is capable of generating of electricity.

In 2008, the company completed the commissioning of a biomass boiler that powers the RHS Wisley, generating enough electricity to supply most of the greenhouse and the visitor centre. This is the first such installation in a greenhouse of its type. In 2010, The Times newspaper reported that Greenhouse had installed a "fancy hydrogen fuel cell", "the world's first commercial fuel cell greenhouse", in its greenhouses.

In 2008, Greenhouse were granted planning permission by Hampshire County Council to build two new greenhouses at Hampton Court Palace. The building was completed in 2011. The greenhouses are part of the "Future Plant Exhibition", a large exhibition on urban plants.

In 2009, the South West Greenhouse Project was started. This project, which is a collaboration between RHS Wisley, Somerset County Council, and The National Trust, was completed in 2011.The RHS Wisley and Somerset County Council greenhouses are the first glasshouses to use the "Warm Water Path" technology. The project uses hydroponic towers to grow plants in the traditional way of water and nutrient-free compost and air pumped through the compost. The compost is fed from large drums buried underground. The plants grow at the surface where it is still cold and damp. A temperature of is maintained in the soil which is between from the outside. There are no weeds or pests to contend with. The warm water from the pipes below is piped to the pots which also use electricity for lighting. When the pots are done, the water is pumped back underground through a series of coils to keep the compost warm.

The South West Greenhouse Project includes three glasshouses, which have a combined total area of , as well as a nursery. The greenhouses were designed and created by the architect John Griffiths. The glasshouses at RHS Wisley are the first to be built with a "glasshouse effect".

In 2012, the company became the first building contractor in the world to be awarded a BREEAM certification for all its buildings.


External links

Greenhouse project

Category:Companies based in Berkshire

Category:Building engineering companies of the United Kingdom

Category:Glass industry of the United Kingdom


Category:Agricultural buildings in England

Category:Companies established in 1989

Category:Privately held companies of the United Kingdom

Category:Companies based in North Yorkshire

Category:1989 establishments in England


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