Soap Bubble Insulated & Shaded Greenhouses

The LivelyUp soap bubble greenhouse uses a dynamic foam insulation and shading system for a cold-climate permaculture solar greenhouse in McDonalds Corners, Ontario, growing organic produce year-round without fossil fuels. The world’s first successful hoophouse prototype was constructed by Ross & Kathryn Elliott of Homesol Building Solutions on Sept. 11, 2001, and operated continuously for over 5 years, to as low as -39C and as high as 39C. We know of no other project like this in the world, most attempts to copy this have failed, we have unique practical experience. The 2,000 SF double-layer commercial greenhouse uses 30” – 60” of liquid bubbles, integrated with “Flying Concrete” end walls, passive mass cooling and rainwater collection for automatic drip irrigation of the compost / soil raised beds. A solar chimney provides no-power summer ventilation, with heat-recovery air exchange in winter to maintain ambient CO2. A PV solar array makes this growing environment self-sustaining, resilient, and net-zero energy.

If you would like a set of concept plans of the soap bubble insulated and shaded greenhouse, please send $500 + $65 HST to by e-transfer, and an electronic copy will be sent to you within 2 working days. Greenhouse consulting is also available at our regular hourly rates, upon signing a consulting contract and first purchasing of a set of plans so we’re “on the same page”! We built this greenhouse in 2001, and operated it continuously, nobody else has our experience combined with building science and horticulture backgrounds, so if you’re looking for a consultant to work with on your own bubble greenhouse project, we can help!

A Brief History:

Ross was involved in the construction of a “sola roof” bubble glazing research facility for Richard Nelson in 1985 in Montreal, based on previous work including an expired patent by Swedish inventor Zelon (US No. 3672184, June, 1972) for insulating shop windows with soap bubble foam. Professor John Groh at University of Arizona measured R3 per inch for soap bubble greenhouse insulation in 1968, while AHSRAE research by Shamim & McDonald in 1995 measured R1 per inch. In 1995, Bill Sturm built a 12,000 SF tomato greenhouse with a soap bubble insulated roof in Calgary, Alberta and measured an 84% energy savings at -20 F. Research in 2006 by Ruth and Andy Lera in the Yukon demonstrated the economic superiority of this technology for northern climates. Freezing and evaporation (liquid phase change) enhances thermal performance, overheating is eliminated, and natural lighting is unaffected, ensuring optimal year-round plant growth. Bubble solution is stored underground within the thermal mass of the greenhouse, so the foam also provides heating and cooling relative to outdoor temperatures. The continuously re-usable foam solution circulates in a closed loop and can also be actively heated or cooled as desired.

A presentation by Ross Elliott at the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in Victoria, BC on August 23, 2002 put this technology firmly into the public domain, this hoophouse design cannot be patented, and all materials and equipment needed to build your own are available off-the-shelf. DIY plans, foam concentrate & bubble greenhouse design consulting are available from Homesol.

Transforming Northern Greenhouses

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