So where does Evolve come in?

The core team of Evolve have been involved in the cutting edge of fluoropolymers for a number of years:


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Phillip Lee

By incredible co-incidence, from leaving school, Phillip worked for 5 years in the only company in the world that coated glass chemical bottles with polymers very similar to ETFE. This was a product called ‘SafeBreak’, designed to protect children handling dangerous chemicals should a bottle be dropped in classroom. The bottle may smash, but the contents would be held by the chemical resistant plastic coating.

Since 2006, Phillip conducted a ground breaking PhD study of optimal greenhouse design from an architectural perspective of ‘what is optimal for the client’ – the plant. After designing what is possibly the most dynamic building envelope ever designed, using liquid foam as a form of insulation and ‘cloud replicating’ shading, he needed to find a glazing material to contain this system that was as much as possible ‘invisible’.

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After an exhaustive review of all materials used worldwide, however obscure, he came across these kinds of polymers again, and it quickly became apparent that ETFE was the only material to build greenhouses out of. This led to the construction of the first double layer ETFE commercial trial greenhouse (800m2) in the UK for the production of cucumbers and tomatoes.

solar_decathlon_shortThe results were far beyond initial expectations. Crops such as baby cucumbers that struggle to grow profitably under single glass, grew so much that the management practices has to be altered to cope with the increased production levels. Since then, he has been developing a much deeper comprehension of the uses these materials worldwide, leading to the close partnership with the world’s leading manufacturers – AGC Greentech – for their unique greenhouse specific film -F Clean. Phillip has also pioneered a number of the ETFE ‘firsts’ such as the use of a unique IR barrier film on the Façade of the University of Nottingham’s ground breaking H.O.U.S.E project, at the prestigious international architecture competition The Solar Decathlon, in Madrid 2008. This film enabled the highly efficient solar energy building to essentially put ‘sunglasses’ on the building, blocking 30% of the total IR. It also performed a very useful role as the projection screen for the World Cup!

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Stephen Clarkson

With over 35 years’ experience at the cutting edge of commercial growing of salad crops in the UK, Steve is the perfect match to Phillips technical knowledge. Stephen gained his growers perspective appreciation of ETFE films as the head grower in the double layer ETFE cucumber production system, designed by Phillip. And they have worked closely ever since exploring from a growers perspective just really happens when commercial crops are exposed to full natural sunlight. Now in his role as Grower Director of Evolve, Stephen assists us with invaluable insight – that often exceeds the input form the technical and scientific understanding of the day. In his words – ‘growing is still an art, we are a long way off it really being solely a science’.

Recently retired from his elected post of Chairman of the Cucumber Growers Association in the UK, Stephen is now the head grower of one of the most high profile projects in the world – the Sahara Forest Project, and Grower Director for Evolve.