About the Eco Ark
Eco Ark is the name of the specialty-built structure where Finn & Roots grows its crops and cares for its fish. The name is Finn & Roots founders’ invention that came from the building being a combination of part hybrid solar style greenhouse and part subterranean insulated fish house. Believe it or not, there wasn’t a name for that so they invented one.
The Ark was specially designed and built to maximize the efficiencies of raising warm water fish and year-round, uncompromised production of leafy green vegetables, vine crops, herbs, and microgreens as well as other specialty plants.
This was achieved using a combination of materials, techniques, and technologies such as earth sheltering, thick insulation, special solar collecting glazing, solar design and architecture, automated environmental control systems, and high efficiency equipment such as supplemental LED lighting. Most of the Ark’s heating comes from the sun, and when there’s less sunlight, heat from above is generated by an impressive Holland heater, and below from radiant heated concrete floors. We use a wood boiler to power the heated floors, and the wood burned is selectively harvested from the farms’ forestland. The Eco Ark maintains an average temperature throughout the year of 72 degrees and supplements light on cloudy winter days with full LED grow lighting to maintain consistent production regardless of weather or season.
It took over 18 months of research, design, and construction to complete the project, almost entirely achieved by the founders.
Eco Ark Facts
- A true controlled environment able to produce more than 40 times the food as a similar sized outdoor plot of soil and fish ponds.
- Designed from the ground up to operate year-round as efficiently as possible in our northern Vermont climate.
- Solar orientation combined with special glazing material and steep roof angle to maximize winter light and heat gain.
- With close to 20,000 gallons of water in the building, and the concrete structure itself, this large thermal mass stores daytime solar gain for cold winter nights.
- In addition to solar heat gain, wood-fired radiant heat is supplemented from the floor, warming the fish tanks and plants from below, so no wasteful air heating is needed.
- Built into the ground as much as 8 feet in some areas, the “earth sheltering” helps maintain temperature year-round and reduces heat loss from wind (convection).
- Heavily insulated in strategic areas to keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer.
- Environmental control system maintains temperature efficiently by maximizing solar gain during the day and limiting radiative cooling at night using a retractable energy curtain.
- Naturally cooled in the summer with vents via the “stack effect” that in combination with automatic shade curtains eliminates the need for large power hungry ventilation fans.
- All building materials were carefully chosen to be food and fish safe, to not rot, rust, deteriorate or be conducive to mold or mildew, and have 30+ year service life.