Why Our Passive Solar Greenhouse Footing was built this way!

Why Our Passive Solar Greenhouse Footing was built this way!

We have received a lot of questions about why our greenhouse footing was designed this way. In this video I will go through why we designed and installed a shallow insulated frost wall with 10ft. piles at 8ft centres.

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Passive solar greenhouse, Passive solar greenhouse design, Passive solar greenhouse construction,

0:36 An important tool on your farm
1:07 Why a rain gauge is so important
1:55 Greenhouse foundation question: Why did you build it this way?
2:23 Walls but no floor?
3:14 Piles
3:40 Subterranean heating and cooling system
3:56 Why put the soil in before framing the greenhouse?
4:40 3-4 feet below grade
4:48 Horizontal insulation around greenhouse
5:02 2×6 walls, close to R20
5:09 Tin sheeting
5:19 Polycarbonate glazing
5:22 16 mil three wall
5:27 vents and motorized roll-up doors

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About Rob Avis and Verge Permaculture:
In less than 10 years, Rob & Michelle Avis left Calgary’s oil fields and retooled his engineering career to help clients and students design integrated systems for shelter, energy, water, waste and food, all while supporting local economy and regenerating the land. He’s now leading the next wave of permaculture education, teaching career-changing professionals to become eco-entrepreneurs with successful regenerative businesses. Learn more and connect with Rob & Michelle at

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What do you think?


Written by Aleksandar

Video MakerContent AuthorYears Of Membership


  1. My apologies in advance, stupid question alert: I've rewatched the video a couple of times, but I still can't figure out what you mean by piles – piles of what? I understand what you're saying re: the reasons for necessary structural reinforcement, but what is the pile going on those spacings? It just looked like rebar/ concrete reinforcement. Again, my apologies if I'm being dense..!

  2. Rob, do you think 6" pit run in the bottom then sand fill with weeping tile air heat pipe would be a better medium for heat transfer/battery. I know in the old times they use to heat 4" to 6" pitrun stones wrapped with a cloth after keeping them by a fire to keep your feet warm for a long time.

  3. Can't wait to see more! We've built a greenhouse with a few of the features you talked about. We wish we knew more when we built ours. The overhead doors idea sounds interesting. Why did you decide on polycarbonate considering we have some wild hail storms? Will the angle of the glaze matter in terms of hail or is hail even a consideration?

    Thanks for taking the time to share your build with all of us!

  4. Yay! We are planning to break ground in 2021. Thanks for doing these vids. I took your PSG course and still have questions about designing and building for Zone 3 cold climates.

  5. Are any of your glazing decisions different in light of the large hail-pattern Alberta has been seeing in the past several months? I'm wondering if exterior shade-material might DOUBLE as hail-protection for some stacked functionality (?)

  6. This should be a nice and informative video series, specially an engineer commenting on it, instead of some Youtuber.
    By the way, here's no reason for the selfie shots. Just show what your talking about.

  7. Check out my self heating and cooling greenhouse design at thecorehome. I'm going to start a kickstarter campaign very soon to get the hubs I designed into mass production.

  8. Thats a fancy greenhouse that you building there. Wondering whats the EROEI in this project.
    Just for a few vegetables? i would construct a barn to store hay, feed it to animals as the Amish do. The output is more concentrated energy and less input. But That just me.


Greenhouse Plans Pvc Pipe (see description)

Greenhouse Plans Pvc Pipe (see description)

Passive Solar Greenhouse Design - Student Review

Passive Solar Greenhouse Design – Student Review