To educate the university community about this project, several steps will be taken. The planned education and outreach goals, along with explanation detailing how to reach them are outlined in chronological below:
1. Compile and distribute a report on feasibility study findings, condensing data into a single document, including a PowerPoint presentation. Displaying the findings in multiple formats will help individuals consume and distribute information.
2. Publish findings on the UW Farm website. Since energy efficiency is a key component of the UW Farm’s mission, a report detailing how indoor food production can be made more efficient will be a welcome addition to the website.
3. Create signage to post in the greenhouses with installations including data and a brief description of IUNU as a company, and why their product is being implemented. People are often confused why greenhouses may need more lighting, and providing an explanation is important. Supplemental lighting in greenhouses allows for vegetation to obtain the required amount of light to grow in months where the natural lighting cannot provide in regards to suboptimal sunlight angle on the horizon and the amount of sunlight provided during daytime hours. Additionally, few people actually realize the consumptive nature of the high-pressure sodium lights currently used in most greenhouses.
4. Use data to educate UW Farm and Botany Greenhouse staff about the new technology and encourage them to mention the efficiency of IUNU lighting systems in their tours. Considering that the UW Farm gives about 35-50 tours annually to a variety of different groups, this will be a great opportunity for the public to be educated about the new, energy-efficient technology that was implemented through this grant and also give the opportunity to highlight the success of UW alumni in the sustainable indoor farming industry, a great selling point for the universities sustainability goals. Due to the number of people that are reached through these tours, a large amount of publicity will be generated from the tours alone. The UW Farm also maintains social media outlets, which reach thousands of people. A highlight of the new sustainable measures implemented through this grant will make for great, sustained postings, as plants grown through this new technology continue to grow delicious fruits and vegetables for UW students and faculty to consume.
5. Contact the University of Washington Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee to include implementation of lighting systems in future Climate Action Plan (CAP) for the university. A greenhouse lighting retrofit is an untapped energy saving resource that that few Universities have considered. Reducing this energy waste will be an important accomplishment to note in the UW’s CAP.
6. Educate students and professors, upon request, about the new lighting systems in order to garner interest in further studies on a variety of biological impacts of plasma lighting systems. This may include classroom presentations, brown bag presentations, or simply personal visits with graduate students and professors. There are many preliminary reports suggesting that plasma lighting and the full spectrum that it produces may have benefits that go far beyond just energy savings. Increased shelf live, reduction in diseases, and better quality produce are just a few. Research, with the scientific rigor that the UW is known for, will surely advance indoor horticulture, and the University of Washington’s reputation.
Through these Education and Outreach goals, we can reach as many people as possible through continued education and study of the implementation of this grant.