Growing cannabis indoors has many benefits like climate control, maximizing plant growth, and providing extra security - to name a few.
Indoor grow environments are known for producing denser buds, higher trichome counts, and a better end-product than outdoor growing, but there are some added costs:
• Outfitting a grow space with equipment
• Maintaining climate control equipment
• Affording the energy usage from indoor lighting
A typical 5k square-foot indoor cannabis cultivation facility uses 66 times more energy than the average U.S. household. While the upfront price of indoor cannabis cultivation is higher, the long-term benefits outweigh additional costs - and there are ways to lower spending, reduce your carbon footprint, & be more sustainable!
Reducing, reusing, and recycling will go a long way toward a more sustainable grow facility, here are 5 ways you can do it!
1. Map Your Space / Plan Air Exchanges
Mapping out the grow rooms in a facility ensures that space is maximized and utilized efficiently. A plan for your floor space will help account for the number of plants that will be grown and determine the placement of lighting and air filtration systems.
Grow room air filtration systems work best in tandem. Placing air filtration systems in a pattern creates a circular airflow that allows the air to be cleaned multiple times. The number of times that the air is circulated through this pattern is called an air exchange. The amount of air exchanges required varies per application. Please feel free to consult our experts for proper planning/placement.
2. Try Vertical Growing
The art of vertical growing allows cultivators to expand their businesses by maximizing yields and creating space. From a sustainable standpoint, the vertically growing method reduces water usage through drip irrigation and cuts electricity costs by utilizing fewer lights and energy-efficient LED bulbs.
Vertical canopies provide convenient access to plants that need to be tended to but also mitigate mold, bacteria, and pests by reducing the amount of human contact. Vertically grown cannabis plants reduce maintenance time and require fewer pesticides. Some even say that vertical growing is the future of cannabis.
It's important to note that vertical growing is an advanced setup that can be costly.
3. Track & Measure Energy Usage
It's no secret that indoor cannabis cultivation can be energy-intensive. A 2012 report on the carbon footprint of indoor growing found that cannabis production makes up 1% of national electricity use, and in California 3%.
Most grow room energy costs come from running grow lights - a grow room electricity calculator will help determine what your overall energy costs should look like. There are also energy companies that offer free audits for cannabis cultivation facilities.
4. Use the Proper Lights
Each stage in plant growth responds differently to light.
Remember that when caring for seedlings, clones, or plants in a vegetative stage they prefer cold lights (lights that are bluer). When cannabis plants are in a flowering stage, they prefer warmer light (lights that are redder). You can use any light to get results but the proper type of lighting will provide better yields.
Overall, the best type of lightbulbs to use is LED (or an LED-hybrid) - they use less energy and achieve comparable results to HPS bulbs. LED lights also run cooler, and last longer.
Laying out a lighting plan beforehand will help maximize efficiency and prevent lighting burn. According to SWEEP, many growers are now using LED lighting in vegetative rooms and saving up to 50% on lighting energy.
5. Preserve Water
Cannabis water requirements vary based on the cultivation process. Water waste is a growing concern for cannabis cultivators because of droughts, water deficiencies, and pollution. Water preservation methods like water reclamation, recycling, and reverse osmosis aid in the impact of water scarcity.
Water reclamation systems capture wastewater and transfer it to a reservoir where it's sterilized, oxidized, disinfected, filtered, treated, and ready for reuse! Reverse osmosis systems are the current most common way to recycle wastewater. The membrane filters contaminants and provides clean filtered water for your plants.
If your facility relies on a public water source it's important to consider how much water will be used - counties, cities, and towns have limited water allocation. Federal and local wastewater regulations will differ based on the climate conditions where your grow facility is located. If your region has a water deficiency, regulations may focus more on water conservation. If you're located somewhere without water scarcity, regulations may focus more on pollution.