Greenhouse VS Steel Building for Commercial Cultivation

I have been doing research (including watching a lot of Canna Cribs) to determine what is best for quality, yield, and efficiency. At this point I am ready to make the choice. Leaning towards a fully automated greenhouse, but still open minded about constructing a steel building.

The cultivation side of the facility will be about 30k SQFT.

Does anyone have thoughts on this?


Are you sure you need that much area? Have you established your production goals yet? My job is to squeeze as much capacity into commercial buildings as possible, so depending on where you are in your process, we can help make sure you are investing in the right places. We design and build hyper-efficient shelving systems. I have been doing this for a couple decades now and many industries - not just cannabis - often overestimate real estate requirements. Many think it’s impressive to build as big as possible. We often forget that building smaller is better for the environment in many ways; less building material, less fuel trucking it in, less energy to run, more open space, quicker trips for staff to get from point A to B, less space to clean (cleaning products!) etc, etc. Not saying you should skimp, but aim for peak efficiency.
If you haven’t already, consider taking time to work on some drawings. They make a giant difference in the early stages, I can’t recommend focusing on them highly enough. It’s not just for architects anymore, you can do a lot of it during early planning. Start with a basic block sketch, then fine-tune each of those blocks with accurately measured equipment, supply, and plant requirements. Once you establish those basic space requirements you will be able to conceptually understand what you really need to realize your longer-term vision.
Firms like ours often do the upfront design for free, which is great for startups with low cash flow. But then we own the design work, with the hope that you’ll like our proposal and use our solutions.
You could also buy a “feasibility study”, that would allow you to own the design intellectual property outright, if you have the funds upfront. That way you can shop the design to any contractors and suppliers to get the most for your $.


— Steel Building! Your biggest problem is probably going to be insects. Insect problems equals time, money and quality. You want a completely controlled environment where you can keep those nasty little devils out. You can’t do that with a greenhouse.
— Then you need someone who knows what they are doing to make it all work. That means, someone who has done it before.
— That is my opinion, and I am welcome to it.

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Great points on efficient use of space. It’s the everyday things that we don’t have to look for or walk to get that make an operation resource-efficient from conception. Making the most of your controlled environment and workflow means everything stays efficient and low cost from day one - no need to pay someone an extra hour each week to get potting mix from the pallet outside because there’s no room to store it in the transplant room.

In regards to greenhouse versus controlled environment, it depends (almost) completely on your location. I’m located in the Canadian prairies where we had a summer that hit 37C (98f) and winters that got down to -40C (it’s exactly the same in Fahrenheit, haha) - so there is no chance of running a year-round greenhouse operation successfully. However, there are some successful greenhouses in this climate that do produce for an extended season, as long as 8 months, with in-floor hydronic heating.

Hybrid greenhouses are another option that are great in more moderate climates. Insulated walls and the ability to control the climate more completely.

In locations that don’t get below freezing greenhouses make good sense.

But you really could do any of these options anywhere, depending on how much money you want to spend on utilities that only go up in cost - I could run a greenhouse year round if I didn’t care about my energy bill or environmental impact.

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Poly Roof or Glass A Frame type roofs?
Propagation and or Bloom?
I’m all ears learning.
Canna cribs is great and all but I would not do what some of them do with what we know and have today.
Some automation yes and a hybrid building both greenhouse and composite and earth friendly.
Kyle M