Cannabis energy audits: Tips and tricks for LPs to improve efficiency

Published May 18, 2023 09:00 a.m. ET
Unsplash / Matthew Henry

Cannabis is one of the fastest-growing and most competitive markets in the world leading many competitors to take the necessary steps to both lessen their impact on the environment and save money by making their facilities more energy efficient. Energy audits are the best way to start the process as they make it easy to identify areas that are most in need of improvements.

In this article, we’ll offer several tips and tricks to help producers grow more efficiently to lessen the industry's reliance on energy, reduce their carbon footprint and cut overhead costs.

Understanding the benefits of an energy audit for cannabis companies

Before we get into tips and tricks, we feel it’s important for producers to completely understand how they will ultimately benefit from conducting an energy audit. There’s no requirement to pass this test, but an audit can help licensed producers to determine where energy isn’t being used as efficiently as it could be resulting in waste and additional expense.

Energy audits also deliver personalized recommendations on how to make changes to reduce their reliance on energy while demonstrating a serious commitment to implementing more sustainable practices.

Completing a walk-through assessment

Every comprehensive energy audit should begin with a simple visit to and walkthrough of a facility to inspect all of the equipment that’s used on site from lighting and HVAC systems to drones and any other energy-sucking devices. Identifying areas where energy is wasted or used inefficiently isn’t always easy, but this helpful checklist of key things to inspect is a great place to start.

Just be sure to have a pen and notepad handy as you’ll need organized notes to make adjustments later.

Look at all lighting systems from those used to nourish crops to the ones illuminating halls, offices, and other less sensitive areas. Here it’s not unusual to spot several potential opportunities where it’s possible to switch to energy-efficient light alternatives, like LEDs. It’s also important to keep an eye out for ways to incorporate light controls throughout the facility as they may help to reduce energy usage, especially during non-business hours.

HVAC systems
The next thing to inspect should be your HVAC systems. Are they new and energy efficient, and appropriately sized for the size of the operation? Is it possible to add controls or sensors to better manage when these systems are running? If you answered no to the first two questions or yes to the last one, now is the time to make note of the areas where you could maximize energy efficiency by adding upgrades or being swapped with replacements.

Check the equipment your facility uses regularly for things like day-to-day maintenance and to keep the operation functioning. Here you’ll want to look for and write down any potential opportunities you see to upgrade or replace machinery with more energy-efficient options like Energy Star-rated appliances.


Last but not least, the areas where water is used should be closely inspected to identify potential waste. Old toilets and faucets are sure to make an operation less energy efficient, as are leaks in these systems no matter how small they may be.

The next step

Once you've completed your walk-through assessment, it's time to highlight the biggest energy savings opportunities, so those problematic systems and areas can be tackled first. So go through your list, and divide each note according to urgency, to help you develop an effective plan of action that is possible with the resources that are currently available to you.

In a perfect world, it would be best to make all noted changes immediately to maximize energy efficiency as soon as possible, but the reality is even the biggest most successful producers are limited when it comes to financial backing and manpower, so be sure to take all limitations into consideration as you decide which projects to tackle first.

Implement energy-saving measures

Now that you've identified key energy savings opportunities, it’s time to decide which measures you’ll incorporate to maximize the efficiency of your operations. Some of the most beneficial changes to consider may include:

  • Switch to energy-efficient lighting systems or bulbs like LEDs.
  • Add sensors and automatic controls to all operating systems so they’re only sucking energy when they’re actively running and necessary.
  • Upgrade HVAC equipment and systems to more energy-efficient models.
  • Upgrade or modify all other essential equipment and appliances to more efficient models to reduce energy usage as much as possible, especially during non-business hours.
  • Implementing water-saving measures wherever possible. This may mean installing low-flow toilets or faucets or replacing entire watering systems and fixing any leaks.

Measure and track energy use

Measuring and tracking how much energy your facility uses is a crucial part of this process and the only real way to determine if the changes made and measures implemented are making a real difference. For most producers, this means setting goals and tracking progress toward meeting those targets which are easy to do with help from management software and tools like smart meters.

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