Although there is a great deal of concern surrounding the massive energy consumption of pot farms across the United States, the totality of the cannabis industry is working on methods to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the business of growing weed.
A report published in Aljazeera America suggests that the while the legalization of marijuana has led to the creation of one of “the most energy-intensive industries in the U.S.” there has been a recent push to develop strategies for minimizing energy use that could prove beneficial as more states and perhaps the entire nation soon joins the ranks of legal weed.
The majority of the problem is the cannabis plant cannot currently be produced efficiently enough outdoors to generate a steady stream of high quality marijuana products. It is for this reason that most grow operations have resorted to using strictly indoor operations that feed off 1000-watt, high intensity lighting, which produce a great deal of heat that is then counterbalanced with air conditioning and ventilation systems.
Some of the latest research finds that the Colorado cannabis industry alone used more energy in 2014 than 35,000 households. To put this in perspective, some pot growers, even after installing energy efficient lighting, are reportedly still paying in upwards of $1 million per month for electricity.
Of course, while the efforts to discover a less wasteful means for growing marijuana is the subject of national concern, especially since more states are expected to legalize in 2016, marijuana farmers in legal states are taking the energy conundrum more seriously, these days, if for no other reason than out of desperation to find ways to reduce the cost of their monthly utility bills.
“There are technologies and strategies for reducing electricity use in lighting, ventilation and dehumidification — you can cut energy use by 50 percent or more with state-of-the-art technology,” said Howard Geller with Southwest Energy Efficiency Project in Boulder, Colorado.
As it stands, most of the changes that are being seen in grow houses across the country are coming in the form of upgraded lighting and ventilation systems. However, some growers are still apprehensive for change because they fear major equipment modifications may downgrade the quality of the product.
There is speculation, however, that the cannabis industry will eventually lean more towards the use of outdoor grow operations and greenhouses rather than rely solely on artificial lighting. Yet, many commercial marijuana growers remain hopeful that technological advancements, including more intense LED lighting, will lead to a more energy efficient industry before drastic changes become necessary.