With passage of Illinois’s new adult use cannabis law and its rules for cannabis grow facility energy and environmental performance, the Land of Lincoln becomes the 11th state in the country to regulate cultivation and sale of adult use cannabis products and only the second to impose energy use restrictions.  

Cultivators (and “infuser organizations”) need to pay close attention to the primary energy rules. Fundamentally, they must: 1) submit a plan describing how they will meet their energy needs, 2) commit to meeting standards for lighting and HVAC systems, and 3) report on their energy use.

Growers that take these rules seriously will be more competitive than their peers, may find the local permitting process more rewarding, and will be on the cutting edge of practices that can make them increasingly more profitable.

Here are five steps growers and their supply chain partners can take to comply with the new Illinois rules:

  1. Talk to your local electricity and gas utility. Not only will you want to be sure that they can service your facility, but you will need to engage them early to capture any equipment incentives.
  2. Understand best practices for lighting and HVAC technology choices. Make your equipment decision based not only on what you think is best, but test your assumptions and stay open to technologies that you may have dismissed. For example, LED lighting technology has gotten more reliably productive for all stages of plant growth. In fact, to comply with the noted standards of Lighting Power Density of 36 watts per square foot of canopy or 2.2 micromoles per Joule, LEDs may be one of the only lighting technologies available.
  3. Once you have your initial equipment selection, hire an independent energy engineer with cannabis experience to model your facility’s performance for resource use optimization. They may find issues in your design that suggest that your facility is underbuilt, overbuilt, or designed with technologies that counteract each other. Iterate until the facility is designed for optimal grow and energy use performance.
  4. Use the Cannabis PowerScore tool to forecast energy use and track actual performance.  Filling out the Cannabis PowerScore survey will enable you to see how your facility performs against your peers, and as a bonus it will very likely meet Illinois’s energy and resource-use reporting rules.
  5. Document how you will make future and ongoing actions to ensure your facility is efficiently using resources. Suggestions include: perform solid initial commissioning and regular retro-commissioning activities to ensure the equipment is operating properly; track and analyze data regarding resource use and yield outcomes; replace aging equipment with efficient technologies, and commit to continuous improvement.