Dartmouth academics conduct study into energy efficiency of grow facilities

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An independent study conducted on energy efficiency in the cannabis industry has now presented findings that grow facility managers and owners may find interesting.

On Wednesday, Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering and the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society unveiled the results of what has been described as the first-ever independent study of energy efficiency in the cannabis industry.

The study was conducted by six senior Dartmouth engineering students headquartered at the New Hampshire facility’s Cook Engineering Design Center.

Their work was conducted over a six-month period during the fall and winter semesters of the 2021-2022 academic year and focused on finding a complete cultivation system to meet the needs of plants and growers focusing on yield per unit of energy, carbon emissions and overall operational costs.

The data needed for the new analysis was collected in culture facilities at MariMed Inc. (OTCQX: MRMD) and Culta – a multi-state cannabis company based in Norwood, Massachusetts and a Maryland-based company specializing in outdoor and indoor plants.

Photo via Dartmouth – A senior engineering student conducts research at Culta facilities

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This new study was sponsored by the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition, a group of companies working together to promote sustainability in cultivation, manufacturing and distribution within the industry.

The engineering researchers responsible for the study used a methodology developed at the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a multifaceted organization dedicated to clean energy and the fight against climate change. With this knowledge developed by RMI, they understood the essential needs of plants, such as light, water and temperature requirements, which would promote optimal growth.

The students also examined how plant needs can change throughout the growth cycle and that heat and humidity loads can “vary 10 times” during the day-night schedule. To efficiently and accurately collect energy data while accounting for this, the students consolidated their analysis by meticulously monitoring grow lights, temperature control systems, and humidity levels, which ultimately resulted in to remarkable discoveries.

What they discovered is that using high-end light-emitting diode (LED) lamps can reduce cooling requirements by 10% compared to average LED lamps and 30% compared to sodium at high pressure (HPS). lighting.

Additionally, students found that under “minimum optimal” conditions, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can reduce fan power consumption by 50 percent during the lighting cycle and by 90 percent during the lighting cycle. % during the dark cycle, especially when a displacement ventilation method of humidity control is used.

“Students found that operators using LED lights can reduce energy consumption by 50%, with even greater savings for those using HPS systems. Even greater savings are likely available for the indoor cannabis industry as a whole, as the scant data available suggests that industry-wide energy consumption intensity is 2-3 times higher than the optimal minimum conditions needed for robust product production,” said Dr. Stephen Doig, Senior Research and Strategy Advisor at the Irving Institute in Dartmouth.

The researchers also found that using air-side economizers (or free outdoor cooling) would help reduce mechanical cooling requirements by 40% or more, depending on the installation location.

“This research provides an independent, evidence-based analysis of the huge potential for the cannabis industry to reduce both capital and operating costs while improving key metrics such as grams of product per kilowatt hour of energy and grams of product per gram of CO2 emissions,” added Dr Doig.

The Dartmouth researchers say that although the study did not discuss capital expenditures in detail, the results of the analysis indicate that producers who use a minimum optimal approach to their production schedule will save on production costs. operation due to recent use of less or less HVAC. systems helping to produce the same product yields.

“As a company committed to improving people’s lives every day, we take our responsibility to help create a cleaner environment very seriously. Implementing Dartmouth’s recommendation to rethink the implementation of cooling and dehumidification and install even more efficient LED lighting in our facilities is just one of many initiatives we are considering as part of our sustainability efforts at MariMed,” said Tim Shaw, COO of MariMed.

The Sustainable Cannabis Coalition plans to undertake further research efforts between 2022 and 2023 in partnership with Dartmouth, RMI and other leading industry organizations.

“Building on the success of this initiative, we look forward to expanding the work with Dartmouth into further opportunities for construction, renovation and the development of industry-consistent measures for energy efficiency and greenhouse gases. greenhouse,” said Shawn Cooney, co-founder of the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition.

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