Sensi Magazine Feature: Custom Built Cultivation

This article first appeared in Sensi New England magazine. 


Custom Built Cultivation

Cultivation is complex, and it takes the right construction.

by Sensi Staff July 20, 2021

The most crucial part of the cannabis industry is one that most consumers never see: cultivation facilities. Complex and highly engineered, with intricate systems that rival laboratory buildings, each cultivation facility must be custom-built to meet the exact requirements of the grow team. Cultivation facilities needs to match their specific program and approach to cultivation.

Vantage Builders understands this, having brought its commercial construction expertise to the cannabis industry in 2016 when it built one of the first cultivation facilities in Massachusetts. The firm’s cannabis construction team has the experience to get cannabis entrepreneurs from “seed to sale” as quickly as possible, while staying on budget and adhering to government regulations.

Building a successful facility starts with assembling a design team and detailed planning meetings where all cultivation areas are mapped. Floorplans are based on the flow of product and people to ensure no cross contamination between strains, decontamination plans are laid out, and security systems reviewed. The design team ensures that plants move in an efficient path from cultivation in a mother room, propagation, and vegetation room to a flowering room, and then to areas for drying, processing, packaging, storage, and shipping.

During the build-out, each room is outfitted with state-of-the-art systems needed to support the grow process, including intricate lighting—and mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fertigation, and CO2 systems—all calibrated to create optimal growing conditions. Advanced lighting systems mimic the sun’s natural light, simulating daytime and nighttime.

Cultivators often utilize building management systems (BMS), which integrate and automate the control of electricity and HVAC systems, to create the perfect environmental conditions for each individual room, including temperature ranges, light schedules, RH percentages, CO2 levels, and irrigation events. Fertigation systems allow growers to deliver nutrients carefully and efficiently to the growing plants at the soil level. Recognizing that utilities, chiefly electricity, and water, are among a grower’s largest expenses, Vantage Builders can incorporate sustainable systems into each design, including solar energy and water collection and re-use that maximize every drop.

“There is something very simple, very humble about the idea of growing any plant – there’s a seed, you feed, water and nurture it, and it flourishes,” said Margaret Cachel, Director of Cannabis at Vantage Builders. “But it’s certainly not that simple with cannabis cultivation facilities! But it’s the complexity that make each individual cannabis project interesting. We enjoy working with every grower to determine how to create a unique facility that carefully supports their method of cultivation.”

Commercial cultivation is a complex and complicated business. Cannabis is a fun business, no doubt. But it demands a serious environment to maximize yield, ensure consistency, and deliver the highest quality cannabis. So let Vantage Builders worry about tiered growing systems, whether to use LED or metal halide lighting, and how to integrate the BMS with the fertigation system properly. You’ll enjoy the results, as well as the building journey.