What is Eco-Ark?
Eco-Ark is the name of the specialty built structure where Finn & Roots raises their fish and grows their plants. The name is our 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 we invented one.
The Eco-Ark was the dream and vision of owners Shawn and Liz Robinson to create a year-round sustainable environment in which plants and fish could be raised in their own unique symbiotic ecosystem. It’s taken over 18 months of research, designing, and construction to complete the project.
The Ark, has been specially designed and built to maximize the efficiencies of raising warm water fish and year-round, uncompromised production of leafy green vegetables, herbs, and microgreens as well as other specialty plants. The design was to create a sustainable symbiotic environment that mimics nature where plants and fish could thrive together under one roof year-round in the Northern Vermont climate. Efficiency has been 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 system, and high efficiency equipment such as supplemental LED lighting, etc. 99% of the Ark’s heating comes from the sun and wood which is selectively harvested from the farms’ forestland. The Eco-Ark maintains an average temperature throughout the year of 70 degrees and supplements light on cloudy winter days with full LED grow lighting to maintain consistent production regardless of the weather or season.
- 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”, by design, and 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, in comparison a typical “hoop style greenhouse will need to replace it’s plastic covering about every 3 years, most of which ends up buried on the farm or in a landfill
- 90% of the buildings construction and operating systems work was completed by owners Shawn and Liz