Grow Facility Contractors are also Capitalizing on Marijuana Legalization

The construction of a grow facility for legal marijuana is a complicated and a specialized project that a very specific division of contractors are equipped to perform. Cannabis cultivators all seem to have unique techniques for their growing process, so contractors cannot develop a set template that could be used for each grow facility. Some growers use greenhouses, some use already built warehouses and yet others are willing to grow outside.

Contractors need to be willing to be adaptive to the grower and if they have the knowledge on all the techniques to build a grow facility, then they have a great financial opportunity in the green rush. What do you know about the engineering behind constructing a sophisticated grow facility?

The legalization of marijuana in more than half the states is driving demand for high-tech cannabis grow facilities, but opportunities come with challenges in the embryonic industry.

“Cannabis is being grown at a scale never seen before,” says Nathan Mendel, owner of Your Green Contractor, a subsidiary of Mendel and Co. Construction. “For projects in tens of thousands of square feet or acres, a different level of sophistication and automation is needed for irrigation, fertigation and lighting control systems that growers are learning as they go,” Mendel says, adding, “Making sure you incorporate as much of that into the design as early as possible is one of the challenges.”

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have made marijuana legal, though federal law still bans it; eight of those states have legalized recreational marijuana, and the remaining 20 are strictly medical.

Hot spots for cannabis grow facilities include the Northeast and the West Coast, says Zev Ilovitz, president, Envirotech Greenhouse Cultivation Solutions. “We’re seeing a lot of demand in Nevada and Florida, where new seeds are coming on line,” he observes. Other states granting more licenses include Arkansas, Georgia, New Jersey, Ohio and California.

Poised to be the world’s largest adult-use cannabis market, California won’t have a regulated cannabis business until 2018, so many projects are waiting in the wings. “We’re talking to at least six owners with projects in design, but currently have nothing under construction in California,” Mendel says.

Types of Grow Facilities

In addition to converting warehouses, which are common, growers are building indoor grow facilities that typically rely on artificial lighting or greenhouses that take advantage of solar energy.

Cannabis greenhouses are similar to agricultural greenhouses, “but they need to comply with building codes to ensure structural viability, safety and visual appeal,” says David Laverty, director of specialty markets for Nexus Greenhouse Systems. The sophistication of a cannabis grow facility is in the high-tech growing equipment, such as radiant-floor and forced-air heating, mechanical cooling, irrigation and fertilizer systems, odor mitigation, and environmental controls, which work together in one integrated growing system.

Every grower has his or her own cultivation methods that, in turn, impact facility design, says Sam Andras, architect and senior principle at MJ12 Design Studios. These methods include reverse osmosis for purifying water, water-recovery systems, facility-wide fertigation versus room-by-room distribution, and LED (light-emitting diodes) versus HPS (high-pressure sodium) lighting, he says.

Breaking ground on Aug. 7 in McMinnville, Ore., a $2-million project now is in demo for the Willamette Haze project, a 17,000-sq-ft indoor facility with a steel mezzanine in an existing building. “What’s fun is that it will include a grow facility, an extraction facility and an edibles kitchen all under one roof,” Mendel says.

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Source: MJFeed

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