Marijuana Business Magazine July 2018

SUSTAINABLE CULTIVATION Starting this summer, all cannabis grown at OutCo will be under 100% LED lights. Photo by: K.C. Alfred EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In an age of plunging wholesale cannabis prices, sustainability is both about cutting costs and reducing carbon footprints. Reducing energy and water use, mixing your own nutrients and using natural pest-control methods can boost your bottom line and your reputation as a conscientious company. Here are ways for growers to go green. • Measure your electricity and water use to better understand how you can reduce the consumption of both. • Besides labor, electricity is a cultivator’s biggest expense. Electric costs can be cut via LED lights. They consume less electricity and emit less heat, meaning that heating, venting and air-conditioning systems consume less energy. • Drip irrigation is one way to use water responsibly; it’s also possible to recycle water by making tweaks to your air-conditioning system. • Mixing your own nutrients can save you tens of thousands of dollars annually and allows you to customize mixes. • Use predatorial bugs and insects rather than chemicals to go after pests. While companies like OutCo and Yerba Buena are ahead of the curve, a growing number of cultivation opera- tions are adopting sustainable growing technologies and techniques, experts said. “My gut feeling is that the industry is generally getting more efficient on a production basis and facility basis,” said Derek Smith, executive director of the Resource Innovation Institute in Portland, Oregon, a nonprofit research organization that promotes energy and water conservation in the cannabis industry.The institute plans to release a report this summer exploring energy use in the marijuana industry and ways that businesses can reduce their energy costs. “The industry is more efficient because people know that if you don’t figure out how to make your operation more efficient, you won’t be competi- tive,” Smith said. To successfully transition to a sustainable cultivation model takes not only ambition but a new way of think- ing. Growers generally measure the efficiency of their operations in terms of how many grams they can produce per square foot, but that must – and will – change, predicted Eli McLean, a cultivation consultant in Salem, Oregon. “That used to be the equation. But now we need to pay attention to how much did a pound cost to pro- duce.That’s a huge side of things.” In other words, being green is good for your bottom line. Marijuana Business Magazine interviewed top commercial cultivators who employ sustainable cultivation methods. In the following pages you’ll read their insights into how to cut costs and be greener by way of elec- tricity and power consumption, water use, earth and nutrient practices, and pest and contaminant management. 66 • Marijuana Business Magazine • July 2018