The market for legal marijuana is growing. So are efforts to reduce the industry’s carbon pollution. Cannabis is often grown indoors, where cultivators can control light, humidity, and temperature.

Rivero: “To do that, we’re using technologies that consume sometimes quite a bit of energy.”

Casey Rivero is director of cultivation at Yerba Buena, a cannabis farm in Oregon. He says to reduce electricity while maintaining quality, it’s important to understand the ideal growing conditions for the plants.

Rivero: “We do a lot of tissue testing, a lot of soil testing, and adjust our environment based off of what’s actually needed by the plant. And doing that, it’s amazing how much energy is decreased.”

Yerba Buena has also switched to energy-efficient LED grow lights. Rivero says this can be tricky because changing the type of light shining on a plant affects how it grows. So other factors, like water and nutrients, must be adjusted too. But, he says, it’s worth it.

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Rivero: “We’re seeing 40 to 50 percent less energy usage just on lighting alone.”

Rivero shares what he’s learned with other growers.

Rivero: “We all need to help teach each other on methods of not only being able to be better cultivators, and better business people, but more sustainable.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

Eileen Mignoni

Eileen Mignoni is a South Florida-based visual journalist who has been working on stories about science, the environment, and energy for nearly 10 years. In addition to her work at Yale Climate Connections,...