July 1, 2022

5 Things to Consider Before Building Your Cannabis Cultivation Facility | KMB

5 Things to Consider Before Building Your Cannabis Cultivation Facility

Think you know what it takes to build a cannabis cultivation facility? Keep these insights in mind before getting started.

All eyes are on the cannabis industry. With the U.S. cannabis market poised to reach an incredible $40 billion in value by 2030, businesses in a variety of sectors are working overtime to keep up with demand.

While the medical end-use segment dominated the cannabis market in previous years, with a 77% share in 2021, according to Grand View Research, recreational cannabis is expected to take the lead in 2022 and beyond. The segment will see exponential growth in the coming years, as will the CBD segment, thanks to rising acceptance and use of edibles and CBD oils for pain relief and sleep aids.

Continued growth in the cannabis market relies on many factors, including federal regulations that would make cannabis use legal in all 50 states and increasing medical applications. Just as importantly, though, continued growth will also rely heavily on the expansion of cannabis cultivation facilities throughout the United States.

Benefits of Indoor Cannabis Cultivation

With indoor agriculture, cannabis crops can be grown in nearly any environment. Urban locations, suburban locations — the opportunities for cannabis cultivation are nearly endless.

Indoor growing brings cannabis crops closer to consumers and reduces transportation costs. This method of cannabis cultivation also lends itself to efficiency. For example, indoor cannabis crops can be stacked vertically, which means land is used more efficiently and more crops can be grown in less space.

Indoor growing also isolates cannabis crops from pests. Researchers have identified 150 types of arthropods — insects, mites and spiders — in outdoor cannabis crops. Of those, four pests stand out as the most damaging to cannabis cultivation:
● Cannabis aphids
● Hemp russet mites
● Eurasian hemp borers
● Corn earworms

By growing indoors, cannabis growers can protect their crops from these pests and reduce instances of widespread damage.

The benefits of indoor cannabis cultivation are clear. The real question to consider now is how the technical challenges of indoor cultivation will impact the bottom line for business owners.

Growing crops indoors is not without its challenges. Growers must create optimal environments indoors using a combination of lighting and temperature controls. Humidity levels must be carefully controlled, as well. Finding the optimal humidity level is critical for growers to maximize yield.

Before breaking ground on your own cannabis cultivation facility, keep these five considerations in mind.

1. Type of Facility

Will your indoor cannabis operation be built in a new facility, or will you be repurposing an existing building?

Choosing between a new construction building and a repurposed building is one of the first decisions a grower must make — and it’s an important one, at that. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks.

Advantages of New Build Facilities

New construction comes with some big advantages. For starters, new buildings can be designed in a way that makes them high-performance for cannabis cultivation.

High-performance buildings are energy-efficient, which means growers can save hundreds of thousands of dollars on building related energy costs over the lifetime of the business. This is true for any industry, but especially the cannabis industry, where humidity and temperature must be regulated to maximize plant growth. With electricity and natural gas costs at all-time highs throughout much of the United States, the benefits of a new build indoor growing facility have never been more apparent.

Disadvantages of New Build Facilities

The biggest disadvantage of a new construction cannabis cultivation facility is the cost. Construction costs have never been higher, and supply chain shortages have lengthened building timelines significantly.

The easiest way to reduce costs in this scenario is to purchase an existing building that can be repurposed as an indoor agriculture facility. While the building envelope might not be ideal, and energy costs may be higher at the onset, the high cost of construction makes this a more ideal solution for the majority of cannabis growers. It is important to note, though, that any upfront cost projections should include remediation and improvement efforts to provide functional spaces for rooms and equipment.

2. HVAC Design

We know that cannabis growing facilities need highly-regulated environments to maximize crop yields. A slight deviation in temperature or humidity levels can lead to a host of potential issues, including low plant quality, low yield, pest infestations, or mold.

The only way to ensure optimal environmental conditions in an indoor cannabis cultivation facility is to install a professional HVAC system. In addition to the basic HVAC equipment found in most indoor agricultural setups, cannabis cultivators should have specialized irrigation, fertigation, and carbon dioxide enrichment systems.

Professional indoor growing operations should also have new electrical and plumbing installations to operate at peak efficiency, as well as commercial-grade fire protection systems.

Firms like KMB Design Group can provide growers with guidance in navigating local building codes and regulations. Understanding state and local ordinances is critical for anyone in the cannabis cultivation industry, and especially those growers hoping to renovate existing buildings or embark on new construction projects.

3. Lighting Systems

Specialized lighting systems should be installed to maximize crop yields.

When designing a specialized lighting system for cannabis cultivation, make sure to look to your grower for preferred types and performance targets for a lighting system that creates optimal conditions for crop growth. Systems that produce too much heat require larger cooling equipment than higher efficiency options. Light spectrums, locations, and intensities are all important factors to understand and consider when developing your grow facility. Once again, a consultant with experience in cannabis cultivation can provide expert guidance working with your grower to select the right lighting system for your indoor space.

4. Location of Facility

Where will your facility be located? While it’s true that indoor cannabis cultivation facilities can be built in urban or suburban environments, some locations are more suitable than others.
The location for an indoor grow facility may be license-specific. Licenses issued for medical growing target certain patient demographics, which means growers have fewer choices in where to locate their facilities. When it comes to growing crops for recreational use, licensees have more freedom in the locations they select.

Is the facility you’ve selected located in an area with easy access to cannabis processing equipment? Is there space available for an on-site lab, or a cannabis kitchen?

Community ordinances, as well as space limitations, must all be taken into account when planning an indoor growing facility. The layout and square footage of every aspect of the facility need to be determined long before the first seed is planted.

If local regulations will not accommodate the necessary energy requirements, consider hiring a firm like KMB for on-site support and professional guidance.

5. Water Quality

Water quality is an important consideration, regardless of the crop you’re cultivating. In order to build and maintain an efficient cannabis operation, you will need access to enough water for plants, ultrasonic washers, and break rooms.

Water that typically goes into cultivation is filtered through reverse osmosis and injected with nutrients before it touches any plants. Multiple types of filtration systems are available, and it is important to select the system best suited for your indoor growing environment. It is best to consult with a company that specializes in indoor cannabis cultivation, like KMB, for expert assistance when selecting and installing the right system for your operation.

KMB: Experts in Cannabis Cultivation

The cannabis industry is evolving quickly, and local ordinances can dictate the types of systems growers are able to install. Building a profitable cannabis operation requires expert guidance and support. For the latest insights on all aspects of cannabis cultivation, contact the team at KMB today.