When you’re designing a cultivation facility, there are literally hundreds of decisions to be made—and
all of them have a direct impact on your bottom line. Every decision is important, but most cultivators agree that decisions related to your mechanical system (HVAC) rank at or near the top of the list of importance. Mechanical systems have an enormous impact on first costs when you’re building the facility, have a significant impact on recurring monthly expenses throughout the life of your cultivation facility and nothing will have a bigger impact on the health and quality of your crop than the quality of the environment in your facility. With over 700 cultivation projects completed and over a decade in the business, Surna has an enormous amount of experience in cultivation facility design and offers the following tips.
1-SELECT AN EXPERIENCED PARTNER
With an impact on so many parts of your business, the mechanical system you select might be the single most crucial decision you make. Ideally, the company you select for your mechanical system is a true partner—one who has been down this path before and helps facilitate the decision-making process by presenting all the options in a way that’s clear. They should stick with you through the entire process—from concept to final design based on your regulatory codes and grow operation, to installation and start up. Designing systems for cultivation facilities is a difficult process that requires a specialized skill set and no one has that skill set if they haven’t been directly involved in the design and implementation of multiple cultivation projects.
2-FOCUS ON THE LONG TERM
With energy bills in the top 3 of recurring monthly expenses for most cultivation companies, the energy efficiency of your mechanical system is going to have a substantial impact on your cost of cultivation. When you’re designing your facility, your mechanical partner should be able to take your budget and consult with you to design the most energy efficient system that can fit within that budget, so you know that you’re going to be paying the lowest monthly bill that you can afford. The initial infrastructure for your mechanical system can be affordable, but it’s not the place to take shortcuts.
3-CONSISTENCY IS KEY
The consistency of your environment is going to have a direct impact on the consistency and quality of your harvest. It’s important that the mechanical design for your cultivation facility can meet reasonably tight tolerances and maintain those tolerances—this (along with tight control of other variables, like lighting and nutrients) will ensure that you get consistent harvests every time. Outside “stressors” like temperature, humidity, nutrients, lighting intensity, CO2 density, etc., are what drive the ultimate result of your harvest. Predictable yields means predictable cash flow and consistent metrics (like THC and CBD content or oil extract volume) means a consistent experience for your customer.
4-DATA IS VITAL
Collect and record all the data you can, whether through a BAS system or by hand. Temperature and humidity, obviously, but also things like light levels, CO2 levels, growth metrics throughout the plant’s life cycle, energy use and environmental anomalies should all be captured. Periodic reviews of your data can help you identify negative or positive trends before they become obvious in other ways and can help you isolate variables to perfect your process.