November Syngenta Tour

November Meeting – Syngenta Tour

By Susannah Barringer, LEED AP BD+C

On Wednesday, November 5th, Bob Geolas, President and CEO of the Research Triangle Park Foundation, kicked off the Syngenta tour at the RTP Foundation Building with an introduction and overview of the future plan for RTP. The plan is focused around the burgeoning “Millennial” generation and their desire to live, work and play in one area. The RTP Foundation plans to create an “authentically North Carolina” environment that is highly collaborative, inspiring and accessible both in location and affordability. In doing so, RTP will be “re-imagined” from its original 100% self-supporting design from 50 years ago to an environment that is green and lush, pedestrian friendly and, most of all, a connection between work and life. Mr. Geolas’s excitement for the future of RTP is contagious, and we cannot wait to see the new RTP!

After Mr. Geolas’s introduction, the attendees divided into several staggered tour groups and headed to Switzerland-based Syngenta’s $72 million Advanced Crop Lab in RTP. This first-of-its-kind lab allows researchers to simulate any agricultural climate and precisely measure plant inputs – the key to helping farmers grow more food from fewer resources.

The first part of the tour was a look at the seed labs followed by a walk through of the extremely bright 126,000-square-foot research greenhouse where the purpose and function of the greenhouse’s individually conditioned, climate-controlled growth environments, which can simulate conditions from Iowa in one room while simulating conditions from Africa in an adjacent room, were explained.

The next stop on the tour was in the lab’s controls room where an overview was given of the complex systems necessary for the nonstop monitoring and manipulation of each growth environment’s light, temperature and humidity.

The third and final part of the tour was through the extremely large and complex mechanical room where Building Information Modeling (BIM) played a key role in the constructability of the space.

The technology and function of the new Syngenta facility is truly amazing and will continue to make a profound difference in how we respond to feeding an ever-expanding worldwide population of nearly 8 billion people.