Imagine a world where farmers optimize every resource—water, floor space, electricity—and still manage to grow heavy yields of high quality, potent cannabis.
Sounds pretty utopian—quite the opposite of the world we see today.
Or is it?
Advanced technology is lowering your carbon footprint, and its name is GrowEx.
GrowEx is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly indoor growing facility that rises above “earth-loving” marketing. Chris Trevelle, Co-founder and Managing Director of GrowEx, sat down with us to parse out the impressively detailed science behind elite sustainability in the cannabis industry.
Happy Hemp, Happy Planet
GrowEx was founded on the notion that advanced horticultural technology and sustainability should work synergistically. But GrowEx wasn’t the first to achieve this goal.
One of only 5 or 6 similar companies in the world, Storex was Trevelle’s initial venture into growing and preserving biomass, or plant matter. Using the same sustainable technology, Trevelle has spent 20 years with Storex ensuring pests and mold steered clear of vegetables and fruit.
Like Storex, GrowEx uses two key technologies to lower its carbon footprint while increasing the quality of cannabis: True Vertical farming and HVAC-tight, climate-controlled atmosphere facilities.
Trevelle tells us that his patented technologies ensure a “perfect day, each day” for every plant.
A Perfect Day, Each Day
A perfect day starts in a specially designed building that prevents any air leaks from entering the grow room.
Completely climate-controlled for conditions that cannabis plants love, these happy hemp plants experience no inclement weather, no varying temperatures or degrees of humidity, and no room for pests, mold or mildew to infiltrate.
Trevelle explains, “Air control is measured in parts per million or parts per billion, making it very precise.”
His gas-tight building pairs nicely with his vertical growing system. While there are many types of vertical systems, Trevelle refers to his as “True Vertical.”
True Vertical growing systems, he elaborates, maximize the canopy so every plant absorbs maximum photons. Moreover, they take up only as much space as they need as they extend up walls, using optimal space.
The Results Are In
This sounds like a great way to grow tons of bud in a small facility, but how is it sustainable?
Trevelle gives us the facts and figures. His facility uses:
- 20X less land than traditional farmers
- 20X less water than competing cannabis crops
- 10X less labor
- 50% less energy
GrowEx, and the planet, also receive carbon savings as cannabis is free from contamination and pests. This means no harmful pesticides and no costly loss of product during growth.
Trevelle continues to improve his system, taking every detail into account. Here’s the highlights reel of how he does it:
- Lighting: GrowEx uses 20 watts per square foot, soon to be reduced to 10 watts. Other growers tend to use around 62 watts per square foot.
- Irrigation: GrowEx recaptures humidity to irrigate plants. Plants only absorb 3% of water, meaning other growers waste 97% of water.
- HVAC: Because GrowEx builds air-tight facilities, their custom-built Chillex HVAC system works incredibly efficiently, with a thermal efficiency of R30.
- Labor: To produce 100kg of cannabis per week, GrowEx only needs 10 employees. The result is a reduced cost to the manufacturer and end-consumer and fewer people on the road.
Growing into the U.S.
Currently located in Montreal, Canada, GrowEx expects to expand into the U.S. by 2021.
“We’re still looking for an investment partner in the U.S.” says Trevelle. “We are in talks with several groups and hope to make a final decision by the end of the year and start building a new Growex facility in 2021.”