Cannitrol – Cannabis Control Agent

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As “green rush” rolls on, Boulder’s Surna helping make cannabis industry more sustainable

The cannabis industry is on a new high with legal sales expected to reach $30 billion in the United States by 2025.

This assessment is part of “The U.S. Cannabis Report: 2019 Industry Outlook,” published by New Frontier Data that refers to “the strong demand for concentrates and edibles” as reasons for continued growth.

An article last year in Forbes spoke of larger cannabis farms being built. “In Arizona, Colorado, California, and Oregon, cannabis is being cultivated in greenhouses in excess of 250,000 square feet that are capable of yielding more than 50,000 pounds of flower,” the article reported.

The gradual loosening of the social stigma and new methods of consumption other than smoking have helped the industry to become “a positive, taxpaying presence in shopping districts around the country,” Tom Adamswrote in the introduction to a recent report on U.S. legal cannabis, published by ARCVIEW Market Research and BDS Analytics.

“The legal cannabis industry in the United States will contribute nearly $40 billion in total economic output and create a total employment effect of almost 414,000 full-time equivalent workers by 2021,” the report states; in Colorado, total economic output in 2021 is estimated to be more than $3.75 billion.

Product innovations in medical and recreational uses of cannabis also are fueling the new “green rush.”

But the growing industry’s power consumption is not so green.

Need for sustainable cultivation

Legal cannabis cultivation in the United States consumed 1.1 million megawatt hours of electricity in 2017 (enough to power 92,500 homes for a year,) generating 472,000 tons carbon dioxide, according to a 2018 New Frontier Data report. It forecasts electricity consumption will increase 162% from 2017 to 2022 as the legal markets expands.

In Boulder County, the average electricity consumption of a 5,000-square-foot indoor marijuana facility is about 41,808 kilowatt-hours monthly, according to county data. As most of the power used comes from coal burning power plants, a typical 5,000-square-foot indoor grow facility contributes approximately 43,731 pounds of carbon dioxide per month to the atmosphere, the data states.

Boulder-based Surna, which designs, engineers and manufactures application-specific environmental control and air sanitation systems for commercial, state- and provincial-regulated indoor cannabis cultivation facilities in the U.S. and Canada, is helping cannabis growers become sustainable and efficient in their operations, said Tony McDonald, Surna’s president and CEO.

Energy costs are the biggest expenditure for indoor cultivators, he said. Indoor cannabis operations, like data centers, are drawing the attention of the public and policy makers, for their use of high-power light sources and cooling systems.