It’s no secret that the cannabis industry has seen incredible growth over the last decade, especially the past 3 years or so. Since 2020, the marijuana industry’s economic impact is up 30%, and cities, where recreational cannabis is legal, have collected hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue directly from cannabis sales. Still, the industry continues to grow, and will likely continue this skyrocketing trajectory for years (or decades) to come.
Cannabis professionals looking to get in on the ground floor of the industry should consider taking the leap now! Commercial cannabis cultivation is still a relatively new industry and has plenty of room for growth and innovation.
At Vulcan Construction Group, we work with some of the industry’s most exciting growers and cultivation experts to create high-end custom cultivation facilities. In this guide, we’ll be covering all the most important elements of an indoor cannabis cultivation facility, from the basic layout and design to integrated fertigation automation.
Vertical vs. Horizontal Grow Rooms: Design Flexibility
How you use your square footage in an indoor grow facility is paramount since wasted space is wasted potential for increased crop yield. While many of the first indoor grow facilities were designed to mimic outdoor grow operations, standard practice today often includes alternative layouts like vertical growing.
By using the vertical growing model, growers can take advantage of vertical space to maximize their yield, sometimes by as much as three times. Growing plants vertically makes use of racking systems and wall-mounted systems, allowing plants to receive adequate lighting and excellent airflow. Vertical systems maximize space, saving you room, money, and resources.
Regardless of what system you choose, it should be flexible enough to accommodate changes as the industry expands and new technology is developed.
Material Selection & Design Process
Cultivation facilities can’t just pop up anywhere, and not all spaces are appropriate for cannabis-growing conditions. In particular, the materials used in the construction process must be carefully selected for the unique environmental conditions required by cannabis growers. Choosing the wrong materials or neglecting to appropriately upgrade an existing space can result in contamination/health issues like mold and mildew, structural issues, and so on.
If you can build a cultivation facility from the ground up and have the opportunity to choose framing materials, consider metal framing. While wood framing has been the standard, it doesn’t stand up to environmental conditions as well as metal, which is far more resistant to factors like moisture, weight, fire, and pests. In cannabis cultivation, these qualities are highly desirable and help to create a more efficient growing environment.
Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP)
Once the frame of your facility is constructed, you’ll need to choose finishings. Materials like fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) are an ideal choice for flooring or wall and ceiling paneling since it is highly corrosion-resistant, easy to clean, and lightweight as compared to similar materials. FRP is also highly customizable and comes in a variety of panel sizes, colors, textures, etc.
Keeping cannabis crops happy and healthy involves keeping plants at the perfect temperature, balancing humidity, and controlling airborne contaminants with air filtration systems. Conventional HVAC systems aren’t designed to monitor or control humidity, so they often make cannabis cultivation facilities too dry.
Growing cannabis requires the use of a specialized HVAC system that not only manages temperature but also regulates humidity, often called ‘integrated HVAC’ systems. Installation of integrated HVAC systems should always be left to the professionals, as these delicate systems must be customized and installed according to the specifications of the cultivation facility.
Because cannabis cultivation facilities need to meet a variety of environmental conditions in one place, it is difficult to outfit them with the appropriate HVAC system. For example, cannabis dry rooms require very different conditions than grow rooms. Where grow rooms need constant humidity, dry rooms need to eliminate humidity to ensure proper curing of the final product. This is yet another reason to turn to a professional for your HVAC needs since they will be able to create a custom solution for your operation.
To successfully grow cannabis indoors, cultivation experts use sophisticated custom lighting systems. Lighting technology has come a long way since the first cultivators began growing weed indoors, and now most growers enjoy the benefits of LED lighting. By combining systems like vertical growing and custom LED setups, cultivators can produce huge amounts of cannabis without expending excessive resources.
One of the latest advancements in cannabis cultivation technology is fertigation. Fertigation is the process of delivering fertilizer to plants using an automated delivery system. Most often (and most successfully) in the cannabis industry, fertigation is used in combination with hydroponic systems, which provide an even distribution of nutrients.
Fertilization is beneficial in two ways. Firstly, fertigation reduces the time your team needs to spend measuring, mixing, and distributing fertilizer. Secondly, fertigation systems allow fertilizer to be distributed with the greatest accuracy, reducing the possibility of human error. In combination with an irrigation system, fertigation can seriously increase success and productivity.
Meeting Design Standards & Local Construction Regulations
With all of this in mind, before you can begin a new construction project, or begin to design a cannabis cultivation facility, you must ensure you can meet industry and local standards and regulations. Whether this is your first cultivation or your hundredth, an experienced construction company can help to keep the project running smoothly. Remember that the design of your facility must be per local licensures and construction regulations, and should be simultaneously optimized for productivity and high crop yield.
Getting Help From Cannabis Construction Professionals
Building a cannabis cultivation facility is no small task. Every element of the build, from the initial planning to the final finishes need to be overseen, carefully organized, and vetted to ensure you are receiving the best service possible. Rather than hiring dozens of subcontractors and piecing together a plan as you go, consider working with a full-service cannabis construction firm to create your indoor grow facility.
At Vulcan Construction Group, we have years of experience working with the industry’s top professionals and local craftsmen to create high-end cannabis grow facilities, dispensaries, and more. Not only can we help to streamline and organize the process of building your dream cultivation facility, but we can also help to connect you with the best service providers, vendors, and experts to give you great prices and insider advice.
Summing It Up…
To succeed in the competitive cannabis industry, you’ll need to be prepared to keep up with the best of the best. Every piece of the designing and building process must be carefully examined and planned to optimize productivity and crop yield while remaining flexible for future innovation. From the framing of your facility to custom lighting and fertigation systems, trust a professional construction company to help you with every step of the process.
Contact us to start planning your dream cultivation facility today! The Vulcan Construction Group team is ready and waiting to talk to you about your goals.