There are millions of square feet of grow rooms being built across the country to provide growing space for the expanding legal commercial cannabis production market. Renovating an existing building is not only time consuming, it is often more costly than new construction and many compromises must be made to make the space work. Spacing, electrical, plumbing, air handling, ceiling height, lighting, etc., all add to cost. Few of the new construction options available have high energy efficiency ratings. This means expensive heating and cooling bills which cut into the already tight margins for the grow operation. What if the facility is licensed to do extraction as well as grow? What steps will be taken to meet fire codes? The extraction rooms are required to be explosion-proof. This too comes at a high cost.
Toshi Ghalebi, a mechanical engineer with years of manufacturing fabrication experience has combined a wealth of knowledge into designing a highly energy efficient building that is modular and can be completely built onsite in less than two weeks. His California based company is called Quadrow.
The core of this building is a variety of proprietary sized “X” shaped beams that are made of steel and cut and welded on site at his facility in Indio, California. At the end of each beam is a multi- angled cage where each X beam interlocks and is bolted with standard bolts. The beams provide flexibility and strength. Being manufactured from steel, they are also 100% recyclable. The X shape provides strength as well as access during construction. Between each X-beam is a 2 or 4 inch cavity where wiring and plumbing can easily be mounted during assembly.
Wall panels are made using magnesium oxide with a 2 or 3 inch polystyrene backing. With the 4” air gap between the panels, the R value for the thinner walls is 40 and the thicker walls is an impressive 70. This essentially makes the building a large thermos. The polystyrene does not off-gas as it is a very stable material. The magnesium oxide is fire proof, water proof and mold proof. It too does not contain any chemicals that off gas when it is sitting or heated. The panels are used on the inside and outside of the building and can be painted or finished with wood or stucco. In all, these structures can withstand pretty much anything from fire, flood, earthquakes, hurricanes and small tornadoes.
The interior flooring can be finished with any material desired. Two demonstration models that I inspected at the Quadrow facility are finished with laminate flooring and a slip resistant paint.
The original plan for these buildings was to produce quick build-to-suit units for some of the local cannabis facilities. The central building would serve as an office or explosion-proof building for extraction rooms. The construction surpasses current fire codes and has been approved. With some more engineering, Toshi turned the extraction unit base into a greenhouse by adding expansions that attached to the sides of the base building. The expansions resemble wings. They start at 30 in length and can be expanded as far as desired with additional X-beam frames between each expansion. Each expansion will have lightweight multi-walled polycarbonate sheets and shade cloths that would work for light deprivation and for full sun. With the high winds in the area, he also designed (and received certification) these units for up to 130mph winds. The sites can incorporate high efficiency LED lighting, air handling, water handing and racking systems to optimize space and resources. In a greenhouse situation the core building can be used as a control center for the greenhouse with pumps, nutrients, water handling, electrical and office space. Since it is modular, customization is simple.
During the development phases, the concept of these buildings has also grown into more practical uses such as small dwellings, emergency shelters, remote buildings, luxury homes, etc. The versatility and environmental safety of each component makes these very attractive to any environmentally-minded person. The $105 starting cost per square foot cost puts these units right in line with the average “stick and stucco” house that lacks efficiency, contains toxic compounds, and is susceptible to fire, flood, mold, earthquakes, and many other disasters.
Eric Lancaster is Executive Vice President of TeraGanix, Inc., the exclusive North America distributor of Effective Microorganisms® and EM® Bokashi products. He is the technical expert on Effective Microorganisms® for the US market. For more information visit TeraGanix.com.