High-performance growing lights, ventilation systems and other electrical equipment inside warehouse marijuana grows are starting to leave a large carbon footprint.
High-performance growing lights, ventilation systems and other electrical equipment inside warehouse marijuana grows are starting to leave a large carbon footprint.
Brandon Marshall

Cervantes', Pot Industry Hosting Benefit for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction

As cannabis companies become industry giants with each passing toke, there's no question that they're impacting the environment with their energy use. For this reason, members of the pot trade are throwing a benefit for the Colorado Carbon Fund, pushing for sustainable practices at this year’s first Annual Green Industry Affair.

The electricity used to power warehouse cannabis cultivations in Denver nearly tripled from 2013 to 2016, according to the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, accounting for nearly 4 percent of the city's overall energy use. Olivia Mannix, founder of Canna Brand media relations and sponsor of the Green Industry Affair, hopes the benefit will get people motivated to decrease the pot industry's share of energy use. The event's raffle giveaways and ticket sales all benefit the Colorado Carbon Fund, the watchdogs of our state's Carbon footprint.

“I think cannabis consumption is a healthy way of life, and so is being outdoors,” Mannix explains. “And this benefit is really a progressive, positive thing for the community and the environment. It’s really juxtaposing and bridging the gap between the cannabis industry and the mainstream industries, because we still have stigmas.”

The benefit will be held at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom on Tuesday, July 24, featuring BoomBox as the night’s musical entertainment; Hunter Lovins, Time magazine’s Hero of the Planet in 2000 for her work in resource sustainability, will also be in attendance for an educational talk about environmental business practices. Event sponsors such as Osprey, Zeal Optics, Be Hippy and Lightshade will give away merchandise and participate in product raffles.

“We are hoping that people who come to the benefit will also come as consumers who make smart choices about which dispensaries they patronize, and choose the ones that are environmentally sustainable,” says Lightshade vice president of marketing Shannon Brooks.

Because of the electricity used to power lights, ventilation and temperature control for indoor growing, companies like Lightshade are putting their profits toward energy efficiency as ways to help both the environment and their budgets. The company's newly finished 40,000-square-foot greenhouse is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Brooks, who says it will reduce Lightshade's carbon footprint by over 50 percent.

The dispensary chain has also switched to energy-saving LED lights in its stores, and began using only recycled materials for packaging, Brooks adds. Although costly to go green at first, it will be cheaper in the long run — something Lightshade hopes to convey at the Green Industry Affair.

Colorado's cannabis industry, known for housing the vast majority of its cultivations indoors, has been taking steps to improve energy efficiency and lower waste output as data about its electricity use comes forth. The Denver Department of Environmental Health and Cannabis Certification Council held its first Cannabis Sustainability Symposium last October, and recently announced plans to hold another one in 2018.

The Green Industry Affair will feature live entertainment and be much more casual, however, in hopes of connecting with cannabis consumers as much as with the industry. Anyone sixteen or up can attend, with general admission tickets on sale for $40; VIP options to meet BoomBox and Hunter Lovins are available for $75.

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