Illinois to Lead by Example With New Cannabis Cultivation Energy Standards

Illinois will begin adult-use cannabis sales Jan. 1, 2020—a major Midwest story in its own right—but industry observers are pointing to the state’s suite of new energy standards as narrative to watch, a bellwether for what’s to come in the business.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the energy bill (H.B. 1438) into law earlier this summer. The goal is to place and enforce limits on electricity and water use in this rapidly growing industry; Illinois currently allows only indoor cannabis cultivation for its 20 license-holders. The growers in Illinois’ medical cannabis market are the ones who will kickstart the state’s adult-use market in 2020, and they’re the companies that will be expected to meet the state’s energy standards and usher in the new era of cannabis in Illinois.


Here are the main elements of the state’s cannabis energy law:

Growers may use no more than 36 watts per square foot of cultivation canopy

Growers must use lights approved by the DesignLights Consortium (the DLC issued its own performance standards earlier this year)

Growers must use automatic watering systems

 Growers must limit water runoff to no more than 20 percent of usage during specific “watering events”

 Growers must commit to using high-efficiency HVAC equipment, with certain specifications depending on the size of a facility.

The discussion around cannabis cultivation energy standards has followed legalization bills around the U.S. for years, and Illinois is joining Massachusetts in getting out in front of the issue as its medical cannabis market turns over to a broader adult-use market and the attendant increase in demand. On top of the state’s 20 licensed indoor cannabis growers, Illinois regulators expect to license 100 “craft” cannabis growers, who will each be permitted to grow up to 5,000 square feet of plants.

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