Resource Innovation Institute has your number—literally. The Oregon-based nonprofit has created what it’s dubbed the Cannabis PowerScore to “help cultivators and [other] business operators anonymously self-assess their energy performance and gain support in moving toward efficiency, inclusive of all growing methods,” says Executive Director Derek Smith, and it does that with a number that shows just how sustainable a business model really is.
By logging onto the Cannabis PowerScore website, cultivators can take a 15- to 20-minute survey to assess their energy performance as it applies to water, carbon, waste and more.
Smith explains that “it's most time-efficient if you sit down for the survey with utility bills from a recent 12-month period, with production records for that same time horizon.” And while RII analyzes data submitted through the site, “all farm-specific data is kept strictly confidential,” Smith explains, “so it's most beneficial to be as accurate as possible.”
With an individualized score, RII hopes that cultivators “will understand the relative weak points in their systems, and will be empowered to use our analysis as part of their decision-making around achieving a target cost per pound,” Smith explains. As for the data that the institute is gathering—which will be released in a final, forthcoming report—it “will enable informed discussions with construction partners and utilities,” Smith explains, adding, “our goal is to get growers, all growers, on a quick path to saving energy and maximizing profit.”
Smith shares there have been three big takeaways from the survey data RII has collected.
1. The energy footprint variation between indoor operation and a sun-grown operation is massive.
In fact, he says, it can be “up to 500 times” different, Smith says. But despite that difference, Smith cautions reading too much into this too soon. “This doesn't necessarily correlate with a carbon variance and we need more research,” he says.
2. LED adoption rates (in both vegetation and flower stages) are still low.
This is despite price pressure and technology improvements, Smith says. “That tells us there is still significant risk aversion,” he explains, “as well as an efficiency opportunity.”
3. HVAC issues are prevalent throughout the industry.
“Growers struggle to understand HVAC issues,” Smith says, adding that, “It’s also obvious that the HVAC industry also struggles to understand controlled agriculture environments.”
The Cannabis PowerScore data “is relevant to the entire emerging field of controlled environment agriculture," Smith says. “Ultimately, we are cracking the nut on how to most efficiently grow cannabis in a certain climate, grow environment, structure, technology set-up and stage of cultivation.”
Top photo courtesy of Adobe Stock