Skip to main content

Dr. Evan Mills, an energy policy analyst at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has published a study of the carbon footprint of marijuana growing operations. The report, "Energy up in Smoke: The Carbon Footprint of Indoor Cannabis Production" (pdf), analyzes energy use and carbon emissions based on standard equipment and practices.

Specific energy uses include high-intensity lighting, dehumidification to remove water vapor, space heating during non-illuminated periods and drying, irrigation water preheating, generation of CO2 by burning fossil fuel, and ventilation and air-conditioning to remove waste heat. Substantial energy inefficiencies arise from air cleaning, noise and odor suppression, and inefficient electric generators used to avoid conspicuous utility bills.

Based on extrapolation from a standard 4' x 4' module, Mills estimates total US indoor Cannabis production to have a large carbon footprint. (As with any average computation, individual results will vary.)

Power use scales to about 20 TWh/year nationally (including off-grid production and power theft), equivalent to that of 2 million average U.S. homes. This corresponds to 1% of national electricity consumption or 2% of that in households—or the output of 7 large electric power plants.


So why should you care about energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with Cannabis farming? Well, energy and climate issues tend to be wonky and dull. So let's have some fun.

You want to grow your Cannabis ethically and in an earth-friendly manner? Well, for starters, you need to lose the diesel or gasoline powered generators. I know they help keep your on-grid electricity use down, but those generators are a buzzkill for Mother Earth. Here is why.

Off-grid diesel- and gasoline-fueled electric generators have emissions burdens that are three- and four-times those of average grid electricity in California. It requires 70 gallons of diesel fuel to produce one indoor Cannabis plant, or 140 gallons with smaller, less-efficient gasoline generators.

Mother Earth has given you a gift with those buds. It is not cool to give her a headache because you want to push the limits of production. Just say no to generators.

Where you grow matters. If you live in a state with a large renewable energy portfolio, then your carbon footprint will be proportionally lower from your on-grid use. If your state burns mostly coal, then so are you. Do yourself and the planet a favor. Get involved in politics and push for more clean renewable energy generation. In the long run, high carbon fuels like coal and natural gas are going to be ridiculously expensive. That means less green for your green in the future.

Make sure you use the most energy efficient grow lights, ventilation equipment, and hydrology you can find. Be ruthless in your efficiency of your growing operation and your living space. It matters. Efficiency is also the key to keeping a lower profile on the grid and keeping your costs lower.

Cost-effective efficiency improvements of 75% are conceivable, which would yield energy savings of about $25,000/year for a generic 10-module operation.

Mills does not recommend that you try to run your growing operation on solar power. However, he misses an opportunity to encourage adoption of solar systems for heating your water. Likewise, skip the fancy car if you are doing well. Instead, invest the money in geothermal wells if appropriate for your area. Those systems can take your heating and cooling off the grid and radically reduce your carbon footprint.

Also, lose the gas-guzzling vehicle to get your product to market. A Prius or Volt can hold a lot of product.

Mills says the ideal way to grow Cannabis without high energy cost and high carbon footprint is to take your operations outdoors. Unfortunately, in many areas, that will attract unwelcome attention from the eyes in the sky. This is why decriminalization is so important. If you can convince the politicians to register and tax growers, they could balance their budgets and you could do more with natural sunlight. Mother Earth  will love you for it.

In fact, many argue that criminalization is an important driver towards energy-intensive indoor production.  Criminalization also contributes to many of the energy inefficiencies in the process, including long driving distances, noise and odor suppression measures that undercut ventilation efficiencies, and off-grid power production that is far less efficient produces more greenhouse-gas emissions than many electric grids. Moreover, decades of criminalization has resulted in this energy-using sector being passed over by massive efforts to incentivize and mandate efficiency improvements.

Evan Mills, Executive Summary

Just remember. The best buzz comes with a tiny carbon footprint. The planet you help save by growing more with less energy just might be your own.

And for the rest of us, this is an issue where criminalization of marijuana contributes to worst possible energy practices. Unfortunately, continued aggressive prosecution shows no sign of abatement at the federal level.

For the record, Dr. Mills is a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I suspect that explains the carpet-bombing of comments by climate zombies in the coverage of Mills' report in the mainstream media. The comments attached to this piece in the San Francisco Business Times has 15 pages of zombie crap. Even the biggest and hairiest bud on earth cannot make these fossil fools tolerable.

Learn more:

Energy up in Smoke: The Carbon Footprint of Indoor Cannabis Production

Read the full report

Read the executive summary

Visit Evan Mills website


Originally posted to DWG on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 07:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by oo and DK GreenRoots.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site