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'Smart' greenhouse research partnership unveiled

Cleveland, Ohio (April 30, 2008) Cleveland Botanical Garden and Kent State Universitys Liquid Crystal Institute today officially launched a pioneering research project to explore the potential of liquid crystal technology for creating more sustainable, energy-efficient greenhouses.

At an event held on Wade Oval, the Garden and the University unveiled the two greenhouses that will be used in the first phase of the project. One contains liquid crystal panels and the other, a control, has plain glass. A demonstration revealed how the panes switch to manage the amount of sunlight that enters the greenhouse.

This initiative speaks to our ongoing commitment to sustainability and conservation, said Natalie Ronayne, the Gardens executive director. The energy crisis and corresponding global climate change issues call for increasing partnerships to contemplate alternatives, educate the public and push ourselves to maximize our energy conservation and minimize our footprint on the earth.

Said Kent State University President Dr. Lester A. Lefton: I see this initiative as a testament to two institutions that are committed to public service and understand the power of partnerships. Because of the complexity and scope of most modern problems, our research increasingly brings together multiple academic disciplines and other institutions, such as Cleveland Botanical Garden. This partnership says a lot about our willingness to think outside the box and it shows our desire to maximize and share regional resources both intellectual and physical.

The results from the experiment unveiled today will be collected throughout the next several years. Through this research, the Garden and the University aim to create a fully automated smart greenhouse that is easily programmed to provide the ideal growing environment for a variety of plants.

Cleveland Botanical Garden, which began as the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland, the country's first urban garden center, celebrated its 75th anniversary year in 2005. A nonprofit garden, the institution is a national leader in urban horticulture and botanical education. From its 10-acre campus in University Circle to three inner-city learning gardens and dozens of outdoor classrooms at area schools, the Garden has introduced the benefits of gardening to thousands of people of all ages, interests, backgrounds and abilities. Since its founding in 1930, education has been the core of the Gardens mission, guiding expansion in recent years to include urban outreach, school programs that support national academic standards, and sustainable economic development. It has 6,000 members and bi-annually hosts the nations largest outdoor flower show. The Garden's website is at

Pioneering breakthroughs in liquid crystal display materials and technology at the Glenn H. Brown Liquid Crystal Institute and the Center for Advanced Liquid Crystalline Optical Materials (ALCOM) place Kent State in the pivotal role of the world's largest and most comprehensive academic center devoted to research on flat-panel display systems, devices that improve everything from computerized cockpits to laptop computers. Active research collaborations with scientific centers and industrial partners in the United States and abroad continue to provide exciting opportunities for applying today's cutting-edge research to tomorrows technologies, spinning off commercial products and start-up companies that benefit the region and state.


Contact: Kimberley Sirk
Kent State University

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