Introduction: Colorado’s Commitment to Fighting Climate Change
Colorado, a leading state in the cannabis industry, is taking innovative steps to combat climate change by reducing the carbon footprint of both its booming marijuana and beer sectors. Governor Jared Polis recently unveiled two pilot programs aimed at enhancing energy efficiency and sustainability within these industries. This comprehensive guide explores these initiatives and their potential impact on the environment.
The CO2 Capture and Reuse Pilot Project: A Win-Win Solution
One of the pioneering pilot programs involves a mutually beneficial partnership between a Denver brewery and cannabis growers. The brewery will capture and store excess carbon dioxide generated during the beer fermentation. This captured CO2 will then be provided to cannabis cultivators, who will use it to stimulate plant growth during cultivation.
The program aims to decrease the carbon footprint of both industries substantially. Breweries and marijuana businesses will no longer need to purchase CO2 from power plants, thereby minimizing emissions associated with transportation. The collaborative effort includes the state of Colorado, Earthly Labs, the Denver Beer Co., and The Clinic—a chain of four Denver area medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries. The department estimates that the brewery can capture over 100,000 lbs of CO2 annually through this initiative.
Empowering Cannabis Growers: The Colorado Cultivators Energy Management Program
The second pilot program focuses on improving energy efficiency among marijuana growers. Licensed cannabis cultivators will collaborate with local electric cooperatives and municipal utilities to receive complimentary technical energy use assessments. The aim is to identify ways to make their operations more energy-efficient.
This initiative addresses a significant concern: indoor marijuana grow operations consume approximately ten times more energy per square foot than typical office buildings. By engaging with cannabis growers and offering technical assistance, utility companies can play a vital role in easing the energy burden.
The Need for Sustainable Solutions
Conserving energy in the cannabis industry is critical. A 2017 report highlighted that indoor marijuana grows uses significantly more energy than greenhouse operations. The current growth rate of marijuana production in Colorado, at about 3% per month, further emphasizes the importance of adopting sustainable practices.
The study revealed that greenhouse grow operations can save 60-75% of energy used per pound of flower compared to indoor facilities. In Colorado, where over 1,300 registered cannabis cultivators exist, approximately 75% of them are indoor grows, collectively consuming around 300 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually. (1 gigawatt equals the power produced by 110 million LED lamps, according to the US Department of Energy).
Reducing energy costs is crucial for indoor grow facilities, where energy expenses make up a substantial portion of total operating costs. These initiatives are in line with HB19-1261 – the Climate Action Plan To Reduce Pollution passed by the Colorado General Assembly. The plan targets a 26% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and 50% by 2030.
A Collective Effort in the Fight Against Climate Change
Governor Jared Polis’s commitment to fighting climate change is evident through Colorado’s groundbreaking pilot programs. By leveraging beer’s excess carbon dioxide to benefit cannabis cultivation and empowering growers to optimize energy use, the state is leading the way in sustainable practices.
The CO2 Capture and Reuse Pilot Project and the Colorado Cultivators Energy Management Program signify a collective effort to create a greener and more environmentally responsible future. As the cannabis industry continues to thrive, these initiatives will play a crucial role in preserving the planet for future generations.