As an industry, cannabis should focus on improving the well-being of society. Keeping in mind that growing cannabis is dealing with the most advanced technologies in indoor agriculture, the industry has an opportunity to transfer cultivation knowledge toward urban agriculture. California Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks are a means to get fresh locally sourced produce delivered to one’s doorstep (O’Neil, 2016). CSA is paring marijuana-to-food which is a forward-thinking example of how cannabis can create a partnership and connection to communities. This type of pairing can educate dispensaries and cannabis customers about their local communities and how the paired local food is sourced, grown, and sustained through partnership of cannabis cultivators. Imagine walking into a dispensary with the option of purchasing cannabis that is partnered with a local farm. The possibilities for collective partnerships between cannabis cultivators and produce cultivators can create significant value on the triple bottom line. “People care who grows it and where its coming from. They want it to be from a farm with values they connect with” (O’Neil, 2016). Sustainable real estate development in terms of green houses and community gardens that are sponsored by cannabis businesses add to the biophilia of sustainable community development.
Croptimize Inc is part of the new innovative cannabis industry. Croptimize is a software data analytics company that recognizes the costs and need for savings on utilities costs in indoor grows. The cannabis industry has sparked a new wave of innovation in urban agriculture. The advancement in indoor grow technology is trying to keep pace with the evolving cannabis market and help growers realize greater profits during grow operations. The tech boom is mainly in device manufacturing of lights and environmental units such has HVAC systems and cooling. Right now, a huge market place exists for ancillary service provider in the industry. Innovative design in water drip systems, hydroponics, aquaponics, and even aeroponic growing systems are dramatically cutting water use and utility cost. Refined nutrient delivery systems cut costs and increase crop yield. The South West Energy Efficiency Project projects that cultivators can cut costs of up to 50 percent through existing efficiency technologies (Geller, 2016). There will continue to be a market for controlled, more expensive indoor cannabis. Pharmaceutical/Medicinal use and quality control are more easily managed in an indoor grow. Yet, the ultimate move for cultivation is being directed toward green houses and outdoor grows. Technology is evolving in green houses that allow for highly regulated grow operations, and outdoor farms are favorable in ideal climate zones such as Northern California. A shift to greenhouses means erecting new state of the art structure for cultivation, but as mentioned before, regulation, access to capital, and consistency in product pose large enough barriers to direct sustainable transition.
Croptimize Inc recognizes grow lights, year-round cooling, constant dehumidification, water management, space heating, and CO2 injection as extremely energy intensive. Because these climate devices are used to maintain an environment connected to lighting cycles there is a lot of turning on and off device switches. For growers, this means power surges. In Colorado, utilities charge for demand cycles which means the highest consecutive 15-minute power draw per billing period. Additionally, if these surges happen to fall during a peak energy demand time, then these charge periods can account for the largest portion of the energy bill. Just one slip into peak demand category can cost cultivators tens of thousands of dollars. Croptimize in an application that optimizes energy economics for cannabis cultivation.
Unfortunately, the shift towards green house or outdoor cultivation has not caught on. According to Marijuana Business Daily, 92 percent of legal cultivation occurs indoors and only 1 percent in green houses. In Colorado, there are various reasons why cultivators are hunkered down in industrial warehouses such as: regulation requires that cannabis is grown in an enclosed structure, Limited access to capital for sophisticated greenhouse development, and belief that indoor cultivation allows for the ultimate controlled environmental settings. An effort is being made to eliminate the barriers to sun sourced cannabis, however, it is important to recognize that the shift is unlikely to occur anytime soon. Croptimize software gives insight into how your farm uses energy & when costly events might take place, how to continuously improve the economics of your farm, and configure and control your farm in an optimized way.