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ILLINOIS CANNABIS BILL REQUIRES EFFICIENT INDOOR CULTIVATION FACILITY DESIGN

8 September 2019

Cannabis growers in Illinois must improve their indoor cultivation facility design. This is because higher standards are required for energy and water use due to House Bill 1438 (Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act). The Cultivation Center application requires that applicants submit specific plan sets to the Department of Agriculture to ensure compliance with new resource efficiency standards.

Illinois Adult Use Cannabis Program

ENERGY MANAGEMENT PLAN

The energy requirements of your facility are required in the form of monthly gas and electric usage estimates. It also should include where the energy will be procured from. This means a thorough descriptions of the energy source whether that be sign-off from a local utility, on-site power generation equipment, or if you plan to utilize more sustainable or renewable energy options like solar, wind, ground source heat, etc.

WATER MANAGEMENT PLAN

The water requirements of the facility need to be estimated in the water management plans. It is also important to know the source of the water that will be consumed. This set of plans should also include any sustainable water use or water conservation techniques or technology that may be employed for your operation.

WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN

Cannabis cultivation centers will inevitably create a lot of waste. This application requires that owners know the types and amount of waste that will be generated from indoor cannabis cultivation operations. This waste stream must be described and quantified as part of your application. It would be wise to include any waste reduction and or recycling plans you intend to enact.

INDOOR CULTIVATION FACILITY DESIGN RESOURCE USE EFFICIENCY STANDARDS

Cannabis cultivation facilities will be required to use energy and water resources more efficiently moving forward. Illinois adult use cannabis program requires that facilities are deisgned to meet or exceed standard for cultivation related lighting systems, HVAC systems, water treatment, and irrigation.

GROW LIGHT MINIMUM EFFICIENCY STANDARD

The Lighting Power Densities (LPD) for cultivation space is not to exceed 36 watts per square foot of active or growing canopy area. The specified sole source or supplemental lighting system can also be in compliance if both it meets or exceeds a minimum photosynthetic photon efficacy (PPE) of 2.2 micromoles per joule AND the lighting producrs are featured on the Design Lights Consortium (DLC) Horticultural Specification Qualified Products List (QPL).

The Bill also floats this minmum PPE standard by stating, “In the event that DLC requirement for minimum efficacy exceeds 2.2 micromoles per joule fixture, that PPE shall become the new standard.” This means the energy efficiency standard will continue to rise in the coming years as lighting technology continues to develop.

Midwest Medical Cannabis Cultivation Example
Indoor cultivation design that includes efficient LED lighting, HVAC, and water treatment systems for a medical cannabis operation in a controlled environment agriculture facility

HVAC (HEATING, VENTILATION, AIR-CONDITIONING)

The bill states that high-efficiency ductless split HVAC units are to be used for small cannabis grow operations. Cultivation operators greater than 6,000 square feet of canopy are required to have more efficient variable refrigerant flow (VRF) HVAC units. These differ from units that simply perform on/off operation. Also, more energy efficient systems and equipment is encouraged to be utlized in the indoor cultivation facility design. This could include direct-fire chillers, energy recovery units, or ground source heat pumps.

WATER RUN-OFF RESTRICTION

Any cannabis cultivators must commit to automated irrigation systems and measure and report the volume of their supply vs. their runoff. The irrigation leachate, or runoff, volume is capped at 20% of the supplied for irrigation water. This means the employment of precision irrigation and no endless flushing of plants at the end of their lifecycle. Growers will need a smart and efficient indoor cultivation facility design. Water process needs to be well defined to allow consumption to be easily quantifiable.

WASTEWATER CAPTURE AND REUSE REQUIREMENTS

Cannabis cultivators are required to collect the wastewater produced in the cultivation process. A grower must then filter this water to “the best their ability” and mix, or blend, it into the irrigation supply source. An owner can decide to collect wastewater from several sources including rainwater, HVAC condensate, or the run-off from irrigation process.

ENERGY AND WATER USE REPORTING

Indoor cultivators must report their energy use and water consumption to The Department as a form of ongoing compliance and operational benchmarking

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