Energy efficient facility, equipment target sustainability

The goal of the high efficiency egg barn is to produce enough power to offset conventional energy use

The builder of a new egg-laying barn in Alberta hopes it will create as much energy as it uses.

The Brant Colony hopes the barn will help create a sustainable egg industry in the province.

“We always try to be pretty modern, but we felt this showed us even more ways that we could be more efficient,” said Darrel Mandel of the Hutterite colony.

Egg Farmers of Alberta selected the colony as the best candidate for an energy efficiency grant to install and monitor energy saving equipment.

“We’re glad we did it. We have already made improvements that we wouldn’t have,” said Mandel.

The concrete foundation of the layer and pullet barn is built more than a metre below the frost line, and both sides of the concrete are covered in insulation to prevent heat loss and cracking.

The walls of the 410 by 80 foot barn are made with two by eight inch studs rather than the normal two by six studs. The attached manure shed and utility barn also are built with two by eight studs for energy efficiency.

It is too early to determine the benefits of the other energy saving equipment, but Mandel said the colony would likely adopt two by eight construction on future buildings.

“To have the most efficient system you need to keep the barn cool in the summer and not just warm in the winter.”

The state-of-the-art barn has high efficiency fans and lights and walls with maximum insulation value.

The barn is also equipped with a special heat recovery ventilation unit designed to recover heat lost in the ventilation process.

Solar PV modules will generate electricity for the barn, and a highly insulated overhead door that is used while loading eggs will help reduce heat loss, said Jenna Griffin, an industry development officer with the Egg Farmers of Alberta.

It’s hoped the barn will produce enough power through renewable systems to offset the power supplied by conventional energy.

Mandel said the heat recovery ventilation system preheats cold air entering the building with the exhausted air leaving the building. The colony could not have installed it without the grant or the encouragement of Egg Farmers of Alberta.

“That should be significant heat savings,” he said. “It produces energy off the air you are exhausting.”

The colony planned to build a new layer and pullet barn, but the incentive program challenged it to build the most efficient one possible.

Everything in the barn is designed to be the most efficient from the lights to the fans.

“We had our suppliers look for the most efficient fans he could find in the world,” Mandel said.

Sensors allow the heating and cooling systems to be turned on in areas that need it rather than throughout the entire building.

The grant requires the colony to allow students, egg producers and government officials to study the energy efficiency of each piece of equipment.

Other egg producers who want to increase energy efficiency in their barns will use information from the monitoring system, which tracks equipment energy use and calculates the estimated payback period.

“We hope to get more information from the Brand Colony’s new barn,” said Griffin.

The heat ventilation recovery system shows good promise in Europe and other countries, but there is no Canadian data to show what benefits the new technology could have on Canadian farms, said Mandel.

The new facility will house hens in a free-run aviary system with viewing windows to allow tours of the net-zero facility.

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