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Resource Innovation Institute


Leveraging Controls and Automation to Manage CEA Energy Demand

In 2017, utilities and energy experts noticed a spike in electric demand. After 20 or so years of stable low growth, it was first posited that the increase in electric vehicles on U.S. roads and building electrification (e.g. swapping out fossil fuel-burning furnaces for electric heat pumps) was driving this boom. As Wesley Whited, a…
July 11, 2024

Vertical Harvest’s Road Through USDA’s Loan Guarantee Programs

The vertical farming company received nearly $49 million in USDA loan guarantees. Here, the company shares some of the work that went into the process.   The process Vertical Harvest Farms, a hydroponic, vertical farming company with facilities in Wyoming and Maine, went through to get a USDA loan guarantee was a months-long affair full…
July 11, 2024

RII Responds: USDA 2022 AgCensus Report

As he announced the release of the USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture on February 13, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack painted a portrait of a farming industry at risk of stagnating, but with opportunities to innovate. The AgCensus report, released every five years, shares the results of anonymized surveys of the entire U.S. agriculture market.…
June 26, 2024

How to Size HVAC Systems for CEA Facilities

Building an optimal cultivation environment takes careful consideration of all heat and moisture sources.   Identifying the ideal Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system size is a critical stride toward resource-efficient Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). Cultivating crops in precisely regulated conditions demands a tailored approach, acknowledging factors like crop diversity, facility dimensions, and location…
December 18, 2023

Airflow Design for Vertical Farms: 5 Tips

The pursuit of optimal crop yields and resource efficiency has led to groundbreaking innovations in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) facility design. The popularization of light-emitted diode (LED) fixtures in recent years has preceded a boom in vertical farming in both indoor and greenhouse environments. These tiered systems allow operators to maximize production by multiplying their…
November 22, 2023

How CEA Can Connect With Utilities to Unlock Rebates & Incentives: 5 Tips

CEA operators (including cannabis growers) may or may not be aware that their facility upgrade projects might be eligible for various incentive and rebate projects that can offset costs for a variety of equipment, or even make those projects economically feasible. To help understand how these programs work and their requirements and opportunities, Cody Allen,…
October 30, 2023

Minimum Liquid Discharge: An Attainable CEA Water Circularity Status

Sustainability is the bedrock upon which the future of food production rests. As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, resource scarcity, and environmental degradation, the need for innovative solutions in agriculture has never been more pressing. To address these issues, CEA facilities are increasingly pursuing Minimum Liquid Discharge (MLD) or even Zero…
October 24, 2023

How to evaluate energy use in agricultural operations

Productivity-based, rather than area-based, resource measurement is appropriate in our increasingly populated and climate-constrained world Greenhouse and indoor farming, otherwise known as Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), has emerged as a promising solution to meet the global demand for sustainable food production, especially in the face of climate change and urbanization. As the practice gains momentum,…
October 16, 2023

5 Tips to Optimize Your HVAC’s Efficiency

Controlled Environment Agriculture presents specific challenges due to the need for precise temperature and humidity control throughout various growth stages. For facility operators, the goal is to create a consistent environment that maximizes plant health, yield, and potency, all while maintaining low production costs. In both indoor and sealed greenhouse environments, proper dehumidification is critical…
September 14, 2023

Optimize Your CEA Lighting: 5 Tips

Whether cultivating leafy greens, succulent fruits, or vibrant cannabis flowers, understanding how to optimize a CEA lighting setup can make all the difference in achieving remarkable yields and superior crop quality. As we write in our Lighting Best Practices Guide, " is crucial to maximize your return on investment for horticultural lighting systems, as this…
September 8, 2023

Wasted Water is Wasted Dollars

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is intimately connected to the responsible management of our most valuable resource: water. CEA enables us to cultivate crops efficiently regardless of external factors such as weather and location. However, this advancement comes at a cost, with water usage playing a pivotal role in the equation. Water scarcity often is a…
August 21, 2023

CEA Water Savings Potential Now Validated

By Rob Eddy and Carmen Azzaretti With our latest USDA-sponsored Benchmarking Report, created in partnership with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Resource Innovation Institute has brought forward validated energy and resource use data from active CEA facilities. The "CEA Energy & Water Benchmarking Report: Establishing Preliminary Benchmarks for Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)…
August 15, 2023