Cannabis industry comes together to create groundbreaking energy efficiency standard 

Framework established by Technical Advisory Committee will inform consumers, utilities and public agencies on energy impacts of cannabis while pointing the way toward resource-efficient cannabis production and technology development.

Portland, Oregon – September 25, 2017 – Resource Innovation Institute (RII), the only non-profit organization addressing energy and water conservation in the cannabis industry, is convening its Technical Advisory Committee tomorrow as it prepares to release the industry’s first energy efficiency standard, according to RII Executive Director Derek Smith.


“Resource efficiency will define the future of cannabis. This is evidenced by price pressures in the more mature regulated markets, as well as rising interest by consumers and regulators about the energy impacts of cannabis,” said Smith. “What’s been missing is a system to measure and evaluate energy efficient cultivation.”


After more than a year of analyzing data and convening stakeholder dialogues, RII has developed an approach to measure the energy footprint of cannabis cultivation facilities. Now, the conversation turns to setting levels of performance via a stakeholder-vetted standard.


RII’s energy standard will enable grouping of producers into categories of efficiency within each type of production – indoor, outdoor and hybrid/greenhouse. The groupings will be primarily determined by performance as measured by the Cannabis PowerScore™ tool. A producer’s “PowerScore” will be generated by an equation based on watts per square foot and other key criteria, as recommended by RII’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).


“The Cannabis PowerScore™ tool will enable growers and investors to confidentially assess their energy performance relative to like producers in their region,” Smith said. “In addition, the anonymous aggregate data will inform regulators, utilities and technology manufacturers how to support producers to successfully grow while reducing their energy footprint.”


In 2018, RII will release a voluntary certification label that will designate cultivation facilities as resource efficient. “What we’re doing now is establishing the underpinnings of what that label will represent and how it will be verified,” continued Smith. “We’re starting with energy to inform the increasing dialogue by regulators, utilities and industry actors on how best to incentivize energy-efficient production.”


Following the energy standard, RII and its Technical Advisory Committee will develop a carbon standard and water standard to round out what it means to be resource efficient in cannabis cultivation. 


The charge of the Technical Advisory Committee on Sept. 26 will be to review and advise on:


·       The critical data points, units of measurement and equation methodology underlying the Cannabis PowerScore tool


·       The way performance categorized, both in terms of type of production as well as climate zone


·       A public process that will result in broad-based feedback on the standard and rollout of the Cannabis PowerScore tool


“Price drops in Colorado and Washington are bellwethers for what it will take to compete,” Smith said. "RII will help guide the way to a lower-cost, lower-impact industry.”



About Resource Innovation Institute


Resource Innovation Institute (RII) sets industry standards, convenes leadership events and advocates for effective policies, incentives and regulations that advance an energy and water efficient future for cannabis. As an objective, research-based, non-profit partner, we help the legal cannabis sector achieve sustainability outcomes, advance constructive industry oversight and generate increased profitability and market differentiation. We fulfill our mission by curating venues for the exchange and validation of best practices among producers, manufacturers, utilities, design and construction professionals, and policymakers.




Please contact Derek Smith, Executive Director, at 503.201.5157 and for more information.



International Technical Advisory Committee begins developing energy, water and carbon standards to drive conservation in cannabis

By Derek Smith, Executive Director

Earlier this month, thirty experts from a broad set of backgrounds came together in Portland, Oregon, in the spirit of creating a better cannabis industry. They took time away from their day jobs, checked their company hat at the door and dug in for a near full day of discussion on the process of initiating energy and water standards to drive conservation into the operating paradigm of one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world.

Some flew across the country, others video conferenced in from across the globe. All contributed. They will join together for the balance of 2017 to guide the development of:

  • Common measures related to significant natural resources in cannabis cultivation, including:

    • Energy consumption and efficiency

    • Water efficiency and discharge

    • Carbon impact

  • Market-based tools like the Competitive Facility Checklist and Resource Efficiency Scorecard, which can help market actors make resource-efficient decisions in the absence of adopted standards

  • Energy and water standards that can guide qualified technology development and utility incentive deployment

The diverse set of stakeholders includes cultivators, manufacturers, utilities, design and construction professionals, public agency representatives, university researchers, NGOs and environmental engineers.

Here are some photos from the gathering. We’ll soon be sharing further content and will open a public process to gain broader input on proposed standards.

The Resource Innovation Institute would like to thank our Technical Advisory Committee members for their service. Together, we are working toward a carbon-free and water-wise future for the cannabis industry.

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Technical Advisory Committee


Jesse Dodd, Biovortex (California)

Jesse Dodd is a lifelong gardener with a keen interest in living soils. He specializes in multifaceted composting strategies, utilizing appropriate biology, based on location and materials in an attempt to optimize the process. By tailoring composting techniques, Jesse develops site-specific plans to efficiently turn organic matter and agricultural waste into living soils while sequestering carbon and improving the quality of the medicine. He is the creator of Biovortex, a living conceptual art piece, utilizing the mediums of gardening, soil building, breeding, photography, writing, imagination, social media, conversations, events and presentations, with the goal of influencing the cannabis industry in the direction of a profitable and environmentally regenerative future. He has been involved in many cultivation events, including the Cultivation Classic (Portland), the Living Soil Symposium (Southern Oregon), Cannifest (Humboldt), the Spring Kick Off (Southern Humboldt), Cali Dep Fest (Santa Cruz), the Golden Tarp Awards (Southern Humboldt) and the Emerald Cup (Sonoma County).

Jacob Freepons, Kanna Botanicals (California)

Jacob Freepons is Founder of Kanna Botanicals and is a third generation farmer and a cannabis cultivator of over 15 years, with a large volume of work in design and development of both cannabis and regenerative, organic farms. Specific examples of these range from indoor grow environments to off-grid passive solar greenhouse projects and the design and construction of the world’s largest aquaponics facility. His most recent work involved the extensive design, build and management of a demonstration farm that integrates “waste to resource” technologies (fuel, heat, nutrients, water, etc.) with beyond organic food production in a mix of 14 acres of greenhouse and field operations.

Nick Hice, Denver Relief Consulting (Colorado)

As Denver Relief Consulting’s Lead Cultivation Consultant, Nick Hice works hands on with cultivators and facilities internationally, where he interacts with a variety of teams utilizing a range of mechanical systems and sustainable practices. In that role, he is also actively involved in the design, layout and construction process for many DRC clients. Mr. Hice is an active member of National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Cultivation Committee and the  Cannabis Sustainability Workgroup established by the City of Denver Dept. of Environmental Health.

Jeremy Plumb, Newcleus (Oregon)

Jeremy Plumb is CEO of Newcleus. In that role, he has designed a state-of-the-art glasshouse production facility in Aurora, Oregon. With 20+ years cultivation experience and an environmental studies degree from New College of SF, Mr. Plumb has developed some pointed and distinct insights about the adoption of ecological thinking. He has also established an international network of scientists and thought leaders to establish best practices in cannabis cultivation. As founder of the Cultivation Classic, Mr. Plumb is partnering with RII to collection a cannabis production carbon footprint data set.

Casey Rivero, Yerba Buena (Oregon)

Casey Rivero is Cultivation Manager at Yerba Buena, a cannabis producer near Hillsboro, Oregon. Yerba Buena was the first cannabis farm to receive Energy Trust of Oregon rebates. Mr. Rivero’s background is in facility and irrigation design and maintenance. He has nearly 20 years of cultivation experience, managing indoor, outdoor, greenhouse, permaculture and light deprivation gardens on a variety of scales. He has also owned and operated a cannabis cultivation facility design firm.


David Berlin, Hydrologic Purification Systems (California)

David Berlin is the Commercial Technology Manager for Hydrologic Purification Systems. At Hydrologic, he focuses on designing sustainable water treatment plans utilizing reverse osmosis technology; these systems are currently utilized by various cannabis producers throughout country. All water treatment plans focus on minimizing water usage while producing high purity water to meet the established standards for each project. Mr. Berlin covers all aspects of specifying reverse osmosis systems into new facilities as well as traveling throughout the country to provide training and technical services. Prior to working with Hydrologic systems, he intensively studied at the University of Rhode Island and received a BS in Aquaculture Technology.  For the past 9 years, he has worked on agriculture facilities to maintain water quality and water filtration systems.

Eric Brandstad, Forever Flowering Greenhouses (California)

Eric Brandstad is CEO of Forever Flowering Greenhouses and has been a featured speaker at many cannabis events including the keynote at Imperious Expo and the featured greenhouse expert at The Cannabis World Congress and Exposition, Cannabis Collaborative Conference, Cultivation Classic, RII Cannabis Energy + Water Summit, The Emerald Cup, Santa Cruz Cup, The Golden Tarp Awards, The Cali Dep Fest, Humboldt High Grade Gala, CannaCon and the NCIA Cultivation Management Symposium. Mr. Brandstad has been managing Forever Flowering Greenhouses since 2007. He’s originally from San Joaquin County where his family has been commercially farming since 1862. Since starting with FFG, he has toured and consulted with hundreds of greenhouse owners to help them understand how their plants react in a greenhouse environment.

Dan Peltinov, Drygair (Herzliyah, Israel)

Dan Peltinov is Co-Founder and Head of Research & Development for Drygair. In that role, Mr. Peltinov has worked jointly with the Israeli Agricultural Research Organization to develop an energy efficient unit to save energy in greenhouses and indoor growing facilities. He is an experienced engineer in the fields of refrigeration and air conditioning systems for the agriculture sector, including cannabis, as well as blood banks, giving him a broad perspective of the problems and needs of the medical cannabis industry.

Steve Perry, Adaptive Plastics (Washington)

Steve Perry is Chief Product Design Engineer at Adaptive Plastics, makers of Solexx greenhouse covering. Previously, Mr. Perry was a systems engineer for Boeing, where he researched the impact of how aircraft are flown and maintained based on the overall effectiveness of fuel efficiency of a fleet. He is the holder of a US patent and is noted as primary inventor on three pending patents in the aerospace, manufacturing and horticulture industries.

Bill WhittakerPriva (Ontario, Canada)

Bill Whittaker has been in the horticulture industry for the past 20 years, with the last 10 years at Priva North America covering the North American market. His experience includes precision climate and irrigation control for indoor agriculture and greenhouses, and providing precision control equipment for open field irrigation. Mr. Whittaker serves on the Advisory Council of the School of Environment and Horticulture at Niagara College in Ontario, Canada.

Neil YorioBIOS Lighting (Florida)

Neil Yorio leads the research and development of LED Agricultural Lighting Research for BIOS, an agricultural lighting company. He is an internationally recognized expert in electrical lighting systems and controlled environment crop production. For more than two decades, Mr. Yorio worked at NASA Kennedy Space Center where he participated in several agricultural lighting research programs with bio-regenerative life support programs directed towards the sustainability aspects of living in space or extraterrestrial environments, with the main challenge of energy conservation and resource recycling for optimizing mission success. He has a B.S. and M.S. in Cellular and Molecular biology from the Florida Institute of Technology. He has participated in DesignLights Consortium (DLC) and serves on the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE)in developing the academic standards for reporting agricultural lighting technology performance.

Design and Construction

Jim BrownURBANADD Architects (Washington)

Jim Brown is the founding architect of URBANADD Architects and has over 30 years of design and construction experience, working on prominent civic projects of all sizes and degrees of complexity, across the country. Early in his career, Mr. Brown was a design principal on Seattle Symphony’s Benaroya Hall, and spent six months working in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (Rem Koolhaas) in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on the Seattle Public Library. He also spent 5 years as the design team leader for the LEED® Platinum certified Vancouver Convention Centre West in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Most recently, the firm has bolstered its brewery, winery and distillery expertise, with cultivation facility design, which includes clients like Solstice, Downtown Cannabis Co., On your Six, botanic SEATTLE, and Ayra.

Matthew Gaboury, Calyx King Consulting (Washington)

Matthew Gaboury is Director of Operations and Co-Founder at Calyx King Consulting, where he designed Washington’s first and highest-grossing large-scale cannabis operations. He has served as an architect, contractor and grower in the cannabis industry, and has designed over two million square feet of production space that includes indoor, greenhouse, hybrid greenhouse and full outdoor. Mr. Gaboury has an MS in Architecture and degrees in structural engineering and industrial design.

Ian Gordon, GroTec Builders (Oregon)

Ian Gordon, Co-Owner of GroTec Builders, has been a contractor for more than 15 years. He has worked both residential and commercial projects where he gained a solid grasp of all aspects of a build - from electrical to HVAC, to structural and plumbing. Seven years ago Ian was brought into a small grow facility and, thanks to his broad scope of knowledge, quickly earned a reputation as a leading one-stop shop for growers throughout Oregon and Washington. After years of cultivating on an industrial scale, Mr. Gordon refocused his efforts on building and systems design. He has since built a wide range of multi-sized facilities, and has expanded his business into multiple states. He lives in Corbett, Oregon, with his two children, and his wife/business partner.

Josh Stephenson, MacDonald-Miller (Oregon)

Josh Stephenson has HVAC, process automation, and energy monitoring experience in a variety of large commercial and industrial buildings, including cannabis production centers and data centers. Mr. Stephenson has worked for both MacDonald-Miller and Schneider Electric. He has an MBA from Willamette University.

Sam Walker, Energy Trust (Oregon)

Sam Walker is Senior Program Manager - Industry and Agriculture for Energy Trust of Oregon. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University and has over 10 years of commercial and industrial energy efficiency experience, ranging from industrial energy audits to public utility energy efficiency program management. He has also worked as a consulting engineer in HVAC design and in the delivery of strategic energy management (SEM). At Energy Trust, Mr. Walker's primary responsibilities include contract and program management for the Industry and Agriculture program, including custom projects and SEM.

University Research

John Lea-Cox, PhD, University of Maryland (Maryland)

Dr. John Lea-Cox is a distinguished and published Professor in the Dept. of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland, where he teaches courses in Greenhouse Management and Principles of Substrate, Irrigation, Water and Nutrient Management. He is the state extension specialist for the Nursery and Greenhouse industry in Maryland. Dr. Lea-Cox has served as Research VP on the board of the American Society for Horticulture Science and serves on USDA Committees, including the Controlled Environment Technology and Use and Water Management and Quality for Ornamental Crop Production and Health committees. He has a PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Florida. From 1993-96, Dr. Lea-Cox was a research associate at NASA Kennedy Space Center, working on the Bioregenerative Life Support System project, for manned missions to Mars. He is also President of Systematic Sensing LLC, an environmental consulting company specializing in advanced technology solutions for water and nutrient management for ntensive plant production systems.

Filip van Noort, Wageningen University (Gelderland, Netherlands)

Filip van Noort is a Crop Research Specialist at Wageningen University, the leading food and life sciences university in Netherlands, where he performs general practical applied research with flowering and green pot plants, ornamentals and greenhouse vegetables. He has 25 years of experience researching the effects of light, climate, water, fertilization and CO2 on a large variety of plants. Mr. van Noort is widely published, and recently co-authored “Effects of diffuse light on radiation use efficiency depend on the response of stomatal conductance to dynamic light intensity” in Frontiers in Plant Science. Current clients include European LED manufacturers developing lighting products to serve the global cannabis cultivation industry.

Public Agency

Barb Anderson, Washington Dept. of Ecology (Washington)

Barb Anderson is a Policy Advisor for the Washington State Dept. of Ecology’s Water Resources Division, which permits water rights. She is the program’s contact for marijuana cultivation and is currently in the process of metering three marijuana grow operations, with the intention of determining cumulative daily and monthly water use data. Ms. Anderson has more than 20 years of water resources experience, including policy development and lean process improvement.

Duane Jonlin, City of Seattle (Washington)

Duane Jonlin is Energy Code and Energy Conservation Advisor in the City of Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections. Mr. Jonlin was closely involved in the development of the City of Seattle and State of Washington energy codes. He serves on multiple regional and national code and policy development committees.

Michael Thomas, Denver Water (Colorado)

Michael Thomas is a Conservation Specialist in the Conservation Department of Denver Water, where he develops and runs programs for specialty customer groups, including breweries and cannabis grow operations. Mr. Thomas develops benchmarks, identifies end uses of water and prioritizes water saving opportunities. He has a MS in Public Policy from University of Denver.


Chris Cloutier, Cloutier Sustainability Group (Minnesota)

Chris Cloutier is Principal of Cloutier Sustainability Group. He led one of the first initiatives around high-efficiency agricultural and horticultural lights in the country. Previously, as Principal, VP-Program Development and Chief Sustainability Officer at D+R International, Mr. Cloutier led D+R's support to the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), providing him a deep understanding of the performance parameters around LED lights. He also oversaw D+R's research into agricultural and horticultural lights, helping define some of the key issues related to current LED certification programs and how to apply them to agricultural and horticultural lighting. The results of this research were adopted by the DLC as their guiding principles in moving forward with exploring certification of horticultural and agricultural lights.

Theresa Haskins, Portland General Electric (Oregon)

Theresa Haskins is Business Market Manager for Portland General Electric. She brings 23 years of electric utility experience in construction operations and marketing. With an agricultural background as a farm owner, Ms. Haskins has a unique perspective on how to connect cannabis producers, processors and retailers with the information and resources needed to build the industry and support electrical construction and energy efficiency.

Bryan Jungers, E Source (Colorado)

Bryan Jungers conducts research on emerging, energy-efficient and distributed-energy resource technologies at E Source, a firm that helps utilities and large energy users with critical problems involving energy efficiency, utility customer satisfaction, program design, marketing, customer management, and sustainability. His main areas of expertise lie in resource-efficient cannabis cultivation, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle development, battery and energy storage cost-effectiveness, distributed generation integration and renewable energy power systems. Mr. Jungers has 10 years of experience as an energy engineer and analyst, including for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), California Energy Commission (CEC) and University of California at Davis (UC Davis). He worked as a research manager and product manager at E Source before entering his current role as Lead Analyst. He holds a BS in environmental resource engineering from Humboldt State University, where he studied cannabis resource use and environmental impact, and an MS in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California at Davis. He was also involved in various capacities in the Humboldt cultivation industry for more than a decade. Since 2013, he has consulted on the appropriate use of efficient technologies in indoor cultivation facilities.


Jeremy Del Real, Center for Sustainable Energy (California)

Jeremy Del Real is Senior Energy Engineer at Center for Sustainable Energy, where he helps commercial and industrial clients determine how best to conserve energy and pursue alternative cleaner forms of energy generation. He is currently part of a team working on a US Dept. of Energy (DOE) program that provides technical assistance for combined heat and power (CHP) projects, including a large commercial greenhouse using CHP to generate heat and power while also capturing CO2, reducing their need to purchase CO2 while lowering overall carbon emissions. Mr. Del Real holds a professional engineering license in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Oregon, and is a certified energy manager (CEM). He has a mechanical engineering degree focused on HVAC design from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

Massoud Jourabchi, Northwest Power & Conservation Council (Oregon)

Massoud Jourabchi is Manager of Economic Analysis for Northwest Power & Conservation Council, which balances the environment and energy needs across Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho. Mr. Jourabchi is responsible for regional economic forecasts, electricity demand forecasts, forecasts of energy prices and analysis of the economic structure of power markets. He has been working in the field of energy policy analysis for over 25 years, including at PacifiCorp, PECI, State of Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy Resources and Center for Energy and Environmental Studies at Boston University. Mr. Jourabchi was a doctoral candidate in economics, and has two master degrees in economics and political economics. Recently, he has been working on developing demand forecasts for cannabis cultivation, working with a team of growers, regulatory and energy efficiency bodies in Oregon.

Alexi Miller, PE, New Buildings Institute (Oregon)

Alexi Miller is Senior Project Manager with the New Buildings Institute (NBI), a nonprofit organization working to improve the energy performance of commercial buildings. NBI works collaboratively with commercial building market players—governments, utilities, energy efficiency advocates and building professionals—to remove barriers to energy efficiency, including promoting advanced design practices, improved technologies, public policies and programs that improve energy efficiency. NBI created and administers the Advanced Buildings Program, a voluntary program for deep prescriptive above-code commercial building energy performance. Mr. Miller drafted and advocated for the first effort to establish lighting energy efficiency code minimum level for indoor agriculture in the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

Environmental Engineering

Catherine Drumheller, QEP, Oak Services LLC (Colorado)

Catherine Drumheller is Principal of Oak Services LLC, which provides environmental consulting services for domestic and international environmental and water resources projects. Her expertise includes quantitative analysis of performance metrics and sustainable project program design related to sustainable water resources development, environmental engineering and environmental chemistry. Her interests include water resources science and management, climate science, sustainable development, environmental physics, energy technology, food and agriculture, gender equity and feminism, and the democratization of education and learning. She has a keen understanding of water and power demands are inextricably linked with climate and justice impacts. As a member of the Cannabis Sustainability Workgroup established by the City of Denver Dept. of Environmental Health, Ms. Drumheller was lead author of the Best Practice Guide.

Kathy Lombardi, PE, Maul Foster & Alongi (Oregon)

Kathy Lombardi, PE, is a Senior Environmental Engineer with Maul Foster & Alongi (MFA) and is licensed in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. She has more than 20 years of experience leading and supporting water resource, agricultural production, water supply and demand, water rights, agricultural runoff water quality analyses, farm budget development and on-farm renewable energy feasibility projects for a variety of clients.  She has conducted applied research on water use and water demand in the cannabis industry in support of development of environmental and sustainability best practices for Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).  She is familiar with regulatory programs affecting water resource, agricultural and environmental projects, and has provided expert testimony and litigation support throughout her career. Previously, Ms. Lombardi was an environmental engineer with US Dept. of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and was an active member of the national agency-wide Renewable Energy Team, researching and field testing biomass, wind and solar energy technologies for on-farm enterprises.

Josh Long, E4E Solutions (Georgia)

Josh Long is President & CEO of E4E Solutions, LLC, an industrial sector focused energy efficiency consulting, design and project delivery firm. Mr. Long brings a broad perspective on technology and process solutions from a range of client industries, including alcohol, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.

Resource Efficiency and Why Cannabis Investors Should Care About It

Every cannabis conference I have been to in the last year has featured content on energy and water efficiency, or sustainability more broadly. It is a growing theme in cannabis, particularly in cultivation where energy accounts for one of the largest costs of production and we are completely reliant on a good, clean, long term water source.  I have also noted that these questions remain somewhat of an afterthought, and certainly not an integral aspect of the due diligence process for investors.  Energy, water efficiency, and the extent to which they factor into the design/build process, systems and technology purchasing plans, and really the entire philosophy of the company, is one of the leading validators of sustainable competitive advantage moving forward.

Looking ahead, we are about to witness the impact of scale and commoditization of the wholesale price of cannabis. Colorado and Washington are seeing a precipitous decline in cannabis prices, upwards of 17% year-over-year for the last 2 years.  This has always been inevitable and there is no reason to anticipate that this trend will reverse in coming years as new entrants to the market seek greater efficiencies through the implementation of cultivation practices imported from big agriculture. Survivability will depend on cultivator’s ability to reduce costs and harvest economies of scale.  Those who have learnt to grow cannabis in the shadow of the black market will need to essentially transform their approach and attitude towards key costs such as nutrients, energy, water, labor and soil.  Tissue culture and micro-propagation will replace mothers and cloning, and science will replace craft in the process of breeding and developing strains that are suitable for large scale production.  

All of these things should be on the radar of anyone looking to invest in cultivation. However, in this article I want to particularly address energy and water because a company’s approach towards these things will be symbolic of their approach towards efficiency and technology in general.  Asking questions about energy and water is a great way to ascertain how a business  will approach the oncoming challenges of competition, commoditization, and price depreciation.   

The following is a set of energy and water efficiency considerations that should be a part of every investor's due diligence in cannabis cultivation:

  • Lighting, HVAC, and Dehumidification - These systems account for the bulk of cultivation COGS in any indoor cultivation model.  Many producers approach these decisions with somewhat of an old-school mindset by simply scaling up what they did in basement or small warehouse grows.  There should be clear indications that a company is involved in a detailed exploration of systems and technologies that will offer efficiencies in a scaled model.

    • Renewable Energy -  A producer’s mid-range planning should considers the cost and reputational risks of the energy choices that they are making.  Are they aware of the brand strength or baggage associated with these choices? Are they mapping a pathway toward low-carbon energy sources being integrated into their model?

    • Water - It is essential that the water rights associated with any property slated for the production of cannabis are understood.  Is the property on which the production facility lies suitable in terms of water needed to serve the projected demand? Is that water source reliable? Are there risks to the water supply associated with climate change, regulation, or price fluctuations?  Is rainwater harvesting feasible? What are the facility’s practices in regard to runoff and discharge? Is water efficiency taken seriously among management? Finally, is proper filtration in place to ensure highest value input to the plant?

Although this is a relatively short list of considerations,due diligence in this these areas should be extremely helpful in discerning the extent to which cultivators really understand the challenges ahead.  These, and many more issues, are starting to be tracked by organizations such as Resource Innovation Institute (RII), a non-profit partner to the cannabis industry on issues related to resource efficiency and profitability. I sit on the board of RII as part of my commitment to efficiency in my own business, and as a way to support other founders and investors in making smart choices that will lead to more profitable, and more sustainable companies in the future.  We will soon make available the Competitive Facility Checklist, which is a guide for resource-efficient design, construction, and maintenance of cannabis cultivation operations. This will serve as a great tool for investors who realize the importance of these questions but could use some help validating scaleable and sustainable cultivation plans that they are considering for an investment.  Other affiliations and certifications that can further demonstrate a company's approach to efficiency and brand awareness are The Ethical Cannabis Alliance, The Clean Green Certification, and Certified Kind.  

The important thing to understand is that we have gotten used to thinking about sustainability as a cost, which can be a turnoff to investors who have witnessed expensive attempts to adapt existing systems and models in order to be more resource efficient.  Cannabis is different, we are building the industry from the ground up. Resource efficiency will separate the winners from the losers in what will ultimately be a highly competitive commodities market.  This time it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smarter way to invest.

Co-Authored by

Sara Batterby - CEO Hifi Farms

Derek Smith - ED Resource Innovation Institute