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Resource Innovation Institute Releases First-of-its-Kind Cannabis Energy & Environment Policy Primer to Aid Governments

State, Local and Federal Jurisdictions Benefit from Peer-Reviewed Guidance Facilitated by Leading Non-Profit Organization 

Portland, Ore. (April 21, 2021)–Resource Innovation Institute (RII) announced today it has released a first-of-its-kind Cannabis Energy & Environment Policy Primer to provide objective guidance and assistance to government entities at all levels as they contemplate cannabis regulation and policies regarding energy and the environment. 

From land use to air quality to resource usage, policymakers must balance business interests, environmental concerns and existing environmental policies as they consider cannabis policy decisions. RII’s Policy Primer provides an overview of pressing considerations on energy, water and waste, along with a roadmap of suggested solutions. The Primer also includes a review of related actions taken to date by U.S. states, including Massachusetts, Illinois and California.  “Most of the actions taken by states, for example, those encouraging use of LED lighting, are still in the process of being rolled out. Yet there are lessons learned and useful input to be gleaned from cultivators, construction professionals, utilities and others,” said Derek Smith, Executive Director of RII. “Because of the early stage of this market, our guidance is not prescriptive. We are not saying, ‘you should do this’ or ‘you shouldn’t do that.’ Instead, we are providing an objective overview of these complex topics and enabling governments to effectively engage with stakeholders and act in reasonable manners.”

“It’s one thing to require certain technologies, and it’s another for cultivators to know how to effectively use them to achieve environmental outcomes and business objectives,” Smith said. “Also, technologies such as LED lighting can be up to 4-5 times the upfront cost of incumbent lighting solutions, so the impact of energy codes on the availability of utility incentives should not be overlooked. That said, governments can work with utility regulators to extend incentives through code adoption periods while enabling financing for undercapitalized entrepreneurs and providing support for training to help cultivators cross the bridge toward greater efficiency.”

RII’s Policy Working Group (PWG) met between October to early April to identify key information to be included in the Cannabis Energy & Environment Policy Primer. Members of the group include: 

  • Andrew Alfred, Chief Scientist, LivWell Enlightened Health
  • Jennifer Amann, Buildings Program Director, ACEEE
  • Kyle Booth, Senior Engineer, Energy Solutions
  • Thao Chau, Electrical Engineer, California Energy Commission
  • Keith Coursin, President, Desert Aire
  • Molly Graham, Programs Director, MEEA
  • Bridget Hill-Zayat, Attorney, Hoban Law Group
  • Jason Lammers, Vice President, The Cannabis Alliance
  • Alexi Miller, Senior Project Manager, New Buildings Institute
  • Leora Radetsky, Senior Lighting Scientist, Design Lights Consortium
  • Blake Shelide, Engineer, Oregon Department of Energy
  • Madison Walker, Grodan
  • Corinne Wilder, VP, Global Commercial Operations, Fluence by OSRAM
  • Kaitlin Urso, Environmental Consultant, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
  • Mike Zartarian, Principal, Zartarian Engineering

As part of the group’s process, RII invited leading organizations to join multidisciplinary dialogues on technical subject matters such as lighting, HVAC, water and waste. In addition, the Primer was peer-reviewed by leading policy voices, equity advocates, university researchers, standards organizations and a range of market actors. Racial and justice considerations are incorporated throughout the 40+ page document.

Throughout the PWG deliberations, there was widespread support for government-required benchmarking and reporting on energy and water usage. RII’s Cannabis PowerScore resource benchmarking platform is specified by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. 

“Everyone says we need more data to make better decisions,” said Smith. “The easiest way to build a meaningful dataset to guide more efficient production is to leverage the PowerScore, which is a trusted, confidential, commonly accessible platform that provides free environmental assessments to producers, ranks their efficiency performance relative to other producers, and informs governments, utilities and industry leaders about aggregate trends that are pointing the way to efficient cultivation.”

Last October, as the California Energy Commission was contemplating Title 24 code proposals that would apply to horticultural operations, RII released a study based on PowerScore data showing that indoor facilities with LED lighting systems in flowering stages were outperforming indoor facilities with legacy High Pressure Sodium (HPS) fixtures by 34% in terms of average electric facility efficiencies and 80% better average electric production efficiencies than indoor facilities using double-ended (DE) HPS lighting for the flowering growth stage. The study also found significant variability in performance among the facilities evaluated in the study.

“At the end of the day, when the state walls come down and producers are competing globally, those jurisdictions with the most efficient cultivation operations will win as tax proceeds continue to flow to local communities.”


In tandem with the release of the primer, RII is available for free briefings for government officials. For more information on scheduling a briefing for government officials, contact Derek Smith at

To schedule a press interview, please contact Shawna Seldon McGregor at or 917-971-7852. 

About Resource Innovation Institute: Advancing Resource Efficiency to Cultivate a Resilient Agricultural Future

Resource Innovation Institute (RII) is an objective, data-driven non-profit organization whose mission is to advance resource efficiency to cultivate a resilient agricultural future. Founded in 2016 to address the resource impacts of cannabis cultivation, RII is extending its services to other energy-intensive horticultural sectors as part of a three-year scope of work funded by the US Dept. of Agriculture. Its PowerScore benchmarking platform represents the world’s largest dataset on indoor agriculture energy and water use. RII’s Technical Advisory Council, which includes a Policy Working Group and a Utility Working Group, is the leading multi-disciplinary body assessing the environmental impacts and best practices associated with cultivation resource issues. RII’s Board of Directors includes the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and a former board member of the US Green Building Council. RII is funded by utilities, foundations, governments and industry leaders. Visit our website at Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.