Glorious Cannabis Co.
In fall of 2019, Glorious Cannabis Company made the strategic decision to construct a new state-of-the-art controlled environment agriculture (CEA) facility to consistently grow high yields of exceptional-quality medical cannabis to serve Michigan’s patients. The site chosen was a shell of a new industrial building on a former landfill in Orion Township, Michigan.
While CEA is an established market for growing food and flowers, it is relatively new to the legal and expanding cannabis market. Glorious Cannabis understood that future market pressure would require low operating costs in order to be successful, and therefore made the decision to invest in energy-efficiency early in the design phase. This choice was validated through massive utility rebates, totaling just under $1 million. Creative thinking and sound engineering resulted in annual savings of over 15.6 million kWh of electrical energy and 13.9 MBH in natural gas savings for this single facility.
Producing clean, quality medicinal cannabis requires a critical drying and curing process before the product can be packaged and sold. Less than optimal environmental conditions create the risk of mold growth that would render a crop useless. A rapid drying process would result in an inferior product from a quality standpoint, making the design and operation of the four drying rooms a critical aspect of the project. SES designed a laminar flow supply air distribution system through a pressurized plenum wall and perforated diffusers to provide even drying of harvested plants. The desired environmental conditions of the dry rooms essentially require the dehumidification of cool and somewhat dry air, which is more challenging and energy-intensive than dehumidifying warm, humid air. The selection of a chilled water system with hot water reheat and air handling units incorporating high-performance dehumidification provided the flexibility, stability, and repeatability needed to consistently maintain strict room setpoints with respect to temperature and humidity.
Although packaged, proprietary equipment was considered, these systems were not only costly, but had long lead times, limited capacity, no flexibility in physical dimensions, and limited - if any - access space to properly service and maintain all components of the equipment.
Drawing from past experience with pool dehumidification and critical environments, SES came up with a high-performance solution by specifying available commercial HVAC equipment in a configuration that would give greater control and energy-efficiency. Because it was non-proprietary and non-cannabis-specific, this eliminated what has been referred to as the “green tax” often seen in the cannabis market. It also allowed the mechanical equipment to be competitively bid by large manufacturers, which meant achieving the best pricing possible, as well as the added benefit of having the support of the major manufacturers. Ultimately, SES was able to design the system without using any cannabis-specific equipment. All mechanical equipment, including chillers, air handing units, boilers, pumps, and controls, was non-proprietary and commercial grade.
Despite being a CEA facility, Glorious Cannabis consumes very little water. Thanks to a dehumidification condensate water reclamation system, a majority of the 10,000 gallons of water used daily is recycled and reused. After the plants uptake irrigation water, they transpire it back into the environment. The high-performance dehumidification system pulls moisture from the air and collects it in a central location before cleaning it, mixing it with fertilizer, and sending it back to the plants for watering. Thanks to this process, the 72,000 square foot facility approaches net-zero water consumption. It also features two completely different water reclaim systems – dehumidification condensate and fertigate runoff – to avoid dumping fertilized water back into the sewer system and preventing such negative impacts to our environment.