The Hands-Off HVAC, Hands-On Cannabis Approach

Driving up yields is key to greater profit margins in the cannabis space, especially for indoor operators who have to balance the costs of running and maintaining their facility.

While several factors contribute to the end result of any cycle, the inputs that lead to good yields are primarily three-fold: environmental control, lighting and watering or fertigation, according to Geoff Brown, the vice president of product and business development at AGronomic IQ, formerly Quest IQ.

“We sort of call it the triangle of good yields,” Brown said. “And investing in a purpose-built, unitary solution removes the HVAC challenge for growers.”

Choosing an all-in-one system to deliver the most precise temperature and humidity control allows indoor operators to take a hands-off approach to HVAC and a hands-on approach to what they entered the business for—growing cannabis.

While some indoor operators walk into a retrofitted facility where they utilize numerous pieces of HVAC equipment in a Frankenstein approach to controlling their environments, the cost and time associated with maintenance to as many as 15 different units results in distracted growers who are the mercy of 15 sources of failure or breakdowns. In addition, those units sometimes work against one another, driving up energy costs that may exceed a facility’s power limit.

Investing in unitary HVAC equipment that is engineered from the ground up and purpose-built for the indoor cannabis space may be an unbudgeted cost for new operators entering the industry, but choosing the right system can help growers maximize their yields and provide a return on investment (ROI) that supports energy efficiency, consistent cycles and scalability.

Featured here, Brown shares more about the benefits of unitary environmental control solutions, the short-term and long-term ROIs of an all-in-one system and the importance of removing HVAC challenges from an indoor operation.

Editor’s note: This interview was conducted by Tony Lange, associate editor of Cannabis Business Times. It has been edited for style, length and clarity.

Tony Lange: Reliable heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment can cost upward of $300,000 or more for a 5,000-square-foot growing facility in the cannabis space. What are the key considerations operators need to weigh while making that kind of investment?

Geoff Brown: In my opinion, an operator needs to know what their goal from that facility is and what their lifetime in the business is going to be. So, there are different categories of operators. There are big, multistate operators, guys like Curaleaf and Cresco Labs, that are in it for the long game. And there are lots of operators who are effectively using this as a real-estate investment choice and are in it for relatively short term—get a license, build a facility, sell it, move on.

So, why would you make a large investment? It’s going to depend on the category of customer, but it’s also going depend on how they view this market overall. In general terms, everybody who’s building—a vast generalization here—but everybody who’s building a facility that’s bigger than call it

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