The Massive Embodied Energy of Cannabis Redevelopments
If the mainstream media is going to continue to smear the cannabis industry for all the energy used in indoor cultivations (instead of smearing the regulations that force us to do this) then they should also give us CREDIT for preserving the EMBODIED ENERGY old buildings.
My story starts from a headline in Green Entrepreneur.
“The Mid-Orange Correctional Facility in Warwick, NY was once a federal prison that held men convicted of drug offenses and other crimes. The facility was targeted for closure in 2011... But instead of just shutting it down or knocking it down, “Green Thumb Industries will open a modern ‘cannabis campus’ “ … [that] will become an economic hub that manufactures high-quality cannabis products…”
Verano Holdings, has recently moved into Readington, New Jersey’s neighborhood Walmart
Evergrow is negotiating its potential new home, a former police training facility in Flint, Michigan
Holistic Industries turned a former bowling alley into a 64,000 SF grow and retail operation
THE DEEP DIVE
All this sounds pretty groovy, but I’m going to argue that it’s also the most environmentally sustainable form of real estate development. Architect Carl Elefante famously said “The Greenest Building is the one already standing". Simply put, when we reuse old buildings, we keep carbon out of the atmosphere.
The energy used in construction is INCREDIBLE.
"Just three materials – concrete, steel, and aluminum – are responsible for 23% of total global emissions (most from the built environment), says Architecture 2030.
The US Environmental Protection Agency says even “a new, green, energy-efficient office building that includes as much as 40 percent recycled materials would take approximately 65 years to recover the energy lost in demolishing a comparable existing building."
"Every brick in a building required the burning of fossil fuel in its manufacture, and every piece of lumber was cut and transported using energy…. Trash a building and you trash its embodied energy … [and] burn new fuel to replace the structure..." says Jason Kovacs in the Alternative Journal, the Voice of Canada's Environment... "It has been estimated that the embodied energy that is lost with the demolition of a typical small urban house is equivalent to the energy saved by recycling [more than] a million aluminum cans… ”
THE LOOP BACK
The cannabis industry is taking a lot of shit about energy use, and I say we deserve a little credit, too.