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Monitor Cannabis Cultivation Energy Use to Save Money and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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Shayne Taker

An increasing number of US states are legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational use, with just over half of the commercial supply provided by indoor cannabis cultivation. Energy use data from these indoor growing operations shows how energy-intensive the industry is. One recent study found that for each kilogram (about 2.2 lbs.) of cannabis produces anywhere from 2.3 to 5.2 metric tons of greenhouse gases. In Colorado, the state’s coal industry actually emits less greenhouse gas than the cannabis sector.

The cannabis industry is facing calls for industry-specific energy state regulations in response to the changing environmental impact of cannabis cultivation. This leads to serious economic and ethical concerns for growers. 

To reduce indoor cannabis cultivation energy use and get ahead of regulations, cultivators are turning to advanced monitoring and smart automation strategies. With the power of IoT and other smart technologies, you can dramatically improve the efficiency of your cannabis operation, minimize your carbon footprint, and cut costs.

Controlling Cannabis Cultivation Energy Use

The high energy requirements by indoor grows are rooted in the  need to sustain conditions within an optimal range around the clock. An indoor grow operation requires about 2,000 watts per minute, “between 50 and 200 times more than an average office building and 66 times more than an average home.”

Cannabis cultivation energy use currently comprises over 1% of all electricity consumption in the country, over 3% of electricity consumption in California, and about 4% of all energy used in Denver. And these numbers are only expected to grow, creating concern about how the industry’s impact on the electrical grid. 

As a result, there is a widespread push to encourage the industry to take responsibility for its emissions. Already, some states have begun taking measures to curb cannabis-related energy use. In Massachusetts, for example, cultivators must comply with current best practices for the industry and provide detailed monitoring and reporting on energy management. As the industry continues to expand, such regulations are likely to proliferate across the country and become increasingly stringent.

Drivers of Cannabis Cultivation Energy Use

When it comes to indoor cannabis cultivation, energy use normally accounts for 20-50% of total operating expenses. In comparison, energy use in a medium-sized or larger brewery has typical operating costs of 6-12%. Taking a closer look at the sources of this consumption reveals where monitoring will have the greatest impact: 

Approximate breakdown for cannabis cultivation energy use indoors: 

  • Lighting (38%)
  • Ventilation and dehumidification (30%)
  • Air-conditioning (21%)
  • Space heating (5%)
  • Irrigation and water pumping (3%)
  • Carbon dioxide injection (2%)
  • Drying (1%)

Although installing smart monitoring devices upon first set up of the cannabis growing facility is ideal, retrofitting an existing facility can also produce outstanding results. 

The Power of Smart Technology

IoT technology is widely utilized in the cannabis industry to control environmental conditions, produce higher yields, and improve product quality. But IoT is also one of the most powerful tools available to reduce cannabis cultivation energy use. 

Strategically-placed IoT sensors paired with an intelligent building management platform (IBMP) allow growers to monitor exactly how, when, and why a grow operation consumes energy and identify strategies to conserve energy and lower operating costs. Connected smart systems will use a fraction of the energy used by traditional growing facilities, while also enabling them to adjust conditions remotely from mobile devices.  

While IoT sensors and an IBMP allow you to monitor any type of energy use in your facility, smart monitoring is particularly useful in these areas:

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Lighting

An IBMP can monitor lighting system and sensor data to identify efficiency opportunities and enable efficiency-focused automation without compromising crop quality. Integration with HVAC and fertigations allows the lights to adjust their intensity to minimize plant stress.
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Climate control and ventilation

Climate control equipment is usually the single largest energy consumer in any commercial growing operation, and even small performance issues can lead to significant waste and increased costs. Continuous monitoring of climate control-related energy use ensures that inefficiencies are caught and corrected as soon as possible. Additionally, an IBMP allows you to predict future demand and implement smart automation to reduce energy use, including demand-based strategies.
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Fertigation

Smart monitoring allows growers to adjust irrigation and fertilization to minimize energy use while still optimizing plant growth and health.


With smart monitoring and efficiency-optimizing practices, cannabis facilities can lower energy use by more than 50%. 

onPoint: The Future of Cannabis Cultivation

Cannabis cultivation energy use has serious economic, legal, and environmental implications for growers. onPoint is the industry-leading IBMP that lets you take control of how, when, and why energy is used in your facility.

Key features of onPoint include: 

  • Command and control functions for lighting, climate control, and other cannabis facility systems to optimize energy usage
  • Continuous monitoring capabilities that track real-time energy use data from all connected systems
  • Advanced fault detection and diagnostics proactively identifies performance issues and inefficiencies that trigger higher energy costs 
  • Customizable reporting allows you to easily share insights with stakeholders and vendors to quickly address energy-related issues via a mobile-friendly user interface

With onPoint, you can cut a clear path to your goals.

Buildings IOT offers the cutting-edge services and products you need to monitor cannabis cultivation energy use and improve efficiency. Contact our expert team to learn more about what we can do for you.

 

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