What are the Benefits and Challenges of HVAC in Commercial Grow Rooms?
When you have a commercial cultivation facility, your plants are one of your primary assets, and keeping them healthy is a huge concern. Your HVAC system supports your business in a number of important ways including crop health, quality, and yield. Below are some of the important factors and challenges you will find in these areas.
HVAC and Plant Health
Mold, mildew, and disease can spread rapidly, destroying your entire crop and setting you back months while you replace it. HVAC protects your plants’ health by cleaning circulating air through filtration that is specially designed to reduce the presence of pathogens that might cause disease in your plants. Maintaining tight control of air circulation, humidity vapor pressure deficit, and temperature also reduces the opportunity for the growth of mold and mildew. High filtration rate filters are also a key guard against mold spores.
HVAC and Crop Yield
Many growers are experimenting with CO2 enrichment as a way to help their cannabis crops grow faster and larger. Maintaining consistent, optimal levels of your chosen air mixture is done by your HVAC system. A complete system will include sensors that monitor your facility and give you the information you need to ensure your grow house environment is ideal for your chosen strains. If you choose to go this route, be aware that CO2 enrichment may trigger significant code requirements that add expense and complexity to the mechanical system, and another source for outdoor air contamination.
HVAC and Product Quality
As the cannabis industry matures, the demand for quality products becomes more sophisticated. Consumers are knowledgeable about the characteristics of many strains and have preferences about everything from the psychotropic effects to the way it smells. Likewise, producers have also gained a wealth of knowledge about what environments work for their best-selling strains. A good HVAC system will allow you to create ideal conditions for each strain in self-contained cultivation rooms within your facility, so your Super Sour Diesel and your Red Velvet each thrive in their ideal environment.
Life Safety in your Cultivation Facility
It’s not just your plants that need care and protection. Your staff also needs a functional HVAC system in place. This is especially true if you are doing CO2 enrichment, which, while it is great for plants, can be actively dangerous to their human caregivers. The 2018 International Fire Code requires emergency exhaust for CO2 systems over 100lb to be connected. Ventilation and filtration is also critical to worker safety in drying and processing areas, where the breathing of particulates is known to be harmful to workers.
Important Aspects of HVAC Design in Your Cannabis Cultivation Rooms
HVAC impacts a wide variety of qualities in your cannabis grow house, including circulation, temperature, filtration humidity, and vapor pressure deficit. It can also help mitigate problems in the areas outside your facility, with noise and odor control measures.
Cannabis Cultivation Ventilation
The “V” in HVAC is ventilation. At its simplest, mechanical ventilation circulates air with fans, ducts, and filters. It allows for precise control of the environment as compared to natural ventilation from open windows. Ventilation can take care of an overall facility and be controlled for specific conditions in each room. Spot ventilation is targeted at specific areas, such as a kitchen exhaust fan, which could be used in processing areas as dust control.
HVAC and Temperature
HVAC and Humidity
Your plants thrive in a humid environment. Unfortunately, mold and mildew like it as well. Your HVAC system can help you create an environment that is great for your plants, while still discouraging the growth of harmful organisms that can damage your crop. Your system should include monitoring sensors that will provide you with real-time information about the moisture in your grow room air.
HVAC and Odor Control
HVAC and Dust Control
Many industries require dust control, and if you’re processing your plants onsite, you may be among them. Extended breathing of the particles that result from drying, trimming, grinding, and sifting can be hazardous to the health of anyone working in those areas. A robust dust control system will take away some of that risk, though employees should still wear respirator masks for additional safety. The industry is seeing it’s first lawsuits and workers comp cases from dust exposure leading to asthma and other disabilities. Robust dust control measures can limit your risk for these claims.
Cannabis Facility Engineering in Commercial Grow Room HVAC Design
As you can see, there is a lot at stake in getting your HVAC systems done right. It is a critical system, and also a significant expense as you set up your grow operation. Professional engineering services can help you make the right decisions from the broad strokes down to the details of your controls systems.
Experienced cannabis HVAC designers will have an established specifications list that will take some of the guesswork out of making equipment choices. They will help you create an efficient layout in your facility, making the best use of every square foot. Engineers can evaluate the existing systems in a facility you are considering for rental or purchase, and give you a cost analysis that will tell calculate the payback period of equipment intended to improve your energy-efficiency. And of course, they can engineer systems that enhance your grows and sail through inspection and permitting.
CE+C HVAC Design for Grow Rooms
Every cannabis engineering firm can provide you with a basic design. One of our founders always says that engineering isn’t rocket science, it’s the people that are important. We consider good engineering to be a given, and what we add on top of that is what makes us unique.
CE+C is a business unit that exists within a larger, established engineering firm. This means you get the resources of a larger company with the personal service of a small team where everyone knows you and your project. We offer you the best of both.