Sustainable Indoor Cannabis: Is It Even Possible?
Even though recreational cannabis has been legalized in Illinois since June 2019, the state is now banning outdoor growing. Yet, what are the implications of all this?
Well, even though indoor growing has tons of benefits (think of less water going to waste and the minimal use of dangerous pesticides), it is a well-known fact that this method drains more energy than growing plants outdoors. Hence, indoor growing is not only a hazard to the environment but also a significant strain on local resources as well.
For instance, indoor growing requires a lot of artificial light. What’s more, the heat from the light source may be so intense that additional air conditioning is also needed. Furthermore, individuals who want to grow cannabis indoors may also need humidity regulators and ventilation fans.
In case you’re wondering, here are three statistics on growing cannabis indoor:
- 4% of Denver’s electricity usage was the result of cannabis cultivation in 2018.
- By 2022, it is estimated that electricity needs for cannabis cultivation in America will increase by 162%.
- In general, a cannabis cultivation area (5,000 square feet) uses 66 times more energy than the typical household in the US.
And the good news?
Thankfully, there are a couple of ways to minimize the damage to the environment. Here’s how to make indoor cannabis cultivation more planet-friendly:
- Use LED lights — these do not need an HVAC system. LED lights have been known to yield great results and they require less energy than other light sources meant for growing cannabis.
- Incorporate combined heat and power (CHP) — this is an effective way of capturing heat and generating electricity without anything going to waste. Not only are there zero grid limitations but CHP is also set up fairly quickly.
- Keep in mind that natural solutions may be best for more effective control of the climate. Naturally, certain seasons of the year can have different effects on indoor growing. There may be alternative ways to regulate the environment, such as pumping air from outside.
- One of the best ways to preserve water is by collecting rainwater. Unfortunately, other water preservation methods utilize technologies that need further maintenance, which may (or may not) break the bank.
All in all, the data is extremely lacking — hence why the consequences of massive indoor cannabis cultivation are not yet known.
Hopefully, there will be more available data on plant physiology, cannabis agronomy, waste management, and water preservation, seeing how these would significantly help the government and the cannabis industry assess the present-day danger of cannabis cultivation on the environment.