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Cannabis Environmental Best Management Practices Guide

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Cannabis Environmental Best Management Practices Guideoctober 2019

AcknowledgementsThe Cannabis Environmental Best ManagementPractices Guide (Guide) is the product of theDenver Environmental Health (DEH) CannabisSustainability Work Group (CSWG), aninterdisciplinary collaborative sustainability workgroup convened in 2016 for the purpose ofproviding sector-specific sustainability resourcesand guidance to the local cannabis industry. TheCSWG includes experts from cannabis business,sustainability science and engineering firms,legal experts and local government.The Guide would not have been possible withoutthe insight and efforts of CSWG members andpeer reviewers. Particular thanks go to the bestmanagement practices committee:Andrew Alfred, LivWell Enlightened HealthTyler Ammerman, Gannet FlemingEmily Backus, Denver Department of PublicHealth & EnvironmentKaruna Chourey, GrowcentiaSamantha Reifer, Scale Microgrid SolutionsCatherine Drumheller, Oak ServicesNick Hice, Denver Relief ConsultingJosh Holleb, Ceres GreenhousesBrandy Keen, SurnaJeremy Lauffenburger, Denver Departmentof Public Health & EnvironmentJosh Malman, The ClinicJared Marchand, REGKaitlin Urso, Colorado Department of PublicHealth & EnvironmentThe expertise of past and present work groupmembers was essential to the development anddissemination of this guide. DDPHE recognizesthe contributions of: Janet Burgesser, BiaCampbell, Duncan Campbell, Joe Cantalini,Meg Collins, Alice Conowitz , Laura Davis,Shannon Fender, Ben Gelt, Matt Gettleman,Brooke Gilbert, Jennifer Gremmert, KayvanKhalatbari, Andrew Livingston, John-PaulMaxfield, Shawna McGregor, D. Jacob Mitchell,Jacob Policzer, Kim Stuck, Ambra Sutherlin,Amy Tancig-Andrle, Thuy Vu, Kirk Whiteheadand The Resource Innovation Institute.1

From the Executive DirectorFrom the Executive DirectorDenver’s Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) is pleasedto release this update to the Cannabis Environmental Best ManagementPractices Guide.Developed by Denver’s Cannabis Sustainability Work Group, a collaborativeeffort that involves both DDPHE sustainability advisors and cannabisindustry professionals, the guide aims to help cultivators reduce waste andconserve resources, turning this ever-expanding industry into a network ofenvironmental leaders.Specifically, the guide offers recommendations related to increasing energy efficiency whilereducing waste and water use that have been tailored to the needs of cannabis cultivationoperations. Each recommendation supports DDPHE’s overall goal of helping Denver residentslive better, longer. The health of our environment is inextricably linked to our physical health,and DDPHE works extensively with businesses across all industries, helping them to operate assustainably as possible.It is encouraging to see the interest and passion from cannabis cultivators throughout the industrywho have come together to craft this guide. Denver is now home to nearly 500 active cultivationlicenses that have the capacity to consume a significant amount of natural resources. However,the opportunity also exists for each of these facilities to lead Denver toward lower resourceconsumption, bringing the community in line with Denver’s 80x50 Climate Goal of reducinggreenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. This plan sets Denver at theforefront of efforts to address climate change by creating strategies to target the largest sources ofemissions, commercial energy use chief among them.By partnering with the cannabis cultivation industry, DDPHE sees endless opportunities to continueour commitment to partnerships and community collaboration, and to aggressively work to combatthe threats and broad-reaching impacts of climate change.As Mayor Michael B. Hancock stated in the City and County of Denver’s 2015 Climate Action Plan,“climate action is the biggest opportunity of the 21st century to protect public health, grow oureconomy and secure a bright future for generations to come, and we have the technology to moveto cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy. We must commit to being bold and inclusive abouthow we will meet this goal together.”Sincerely,Robert M. McDonaldExecutive DirectorDenver Department of Public Health & Environment2

IntroductionCANNABIS SUSTAINABILITY SECTOROVERVIEWUnder the leadership of Mayor Michael B.Hancock, Denver has committed to reducinggreenhouse gas emissions (GHG) 80 percentbelow 2005 levels by 2050 (80x50 ClimateGoal). Commercial buildings represent 35percent of citywide emissions, and — ascannabis businesses occupy an increasingamount of commercial building space — thecannabis industry plays an important role inhelping the community meet its emissionreduction targets.National and international attentionis increasingly being focused on thesustainability impacts of the cannabisindustry in states where cannabis hasbeen legalized. Some cannabis businesseshave initiated sustainability programs toreduce environmental impacts and havepartnered with local communities forenvironmental and social good. However,because sector-wide baseline sustainabilitymetrics are not currently available, overallindustry sustainability performance remainsunverified — leaving public perception opento individual interpretation.In 2016, Denver Department of PublicHealth & Environment collaborated withlocal cannabis industry representatives,sustainability practitioners and regionalstakeholders to create the CannabisSustainability Work Group. The group’smission is to promote sustainability in thecannabis industry through education, thedevelopment and dissemination of bestpractices, and the facilitation of dialoguebetween the cannabis industry, thecommunity and technical experts.BEST PRACTICES GUIDE PURPOSEThe Guide provides recommendations forcannabis-specific sustainable practicesbased on an analysis of existing datafrom individual case studies and regionaland national performance standards aswell as individual technical expertise. Thepurpose of the Guide is to provide cannabiscultivation businesses with a snapshot ofrelevant sustainable practices and a startingpoint for process optimization techniquesthat facilitate continual improvement.In addition, the recommendations weredesigned and written with Denver’s energyand climate sustainability goals in mind,including the 80x50 Climate Goal.Alignment with regional stakeholders iscritical to partnering for success in pursuitof social, economic and environmentalsustainability. Longevity is key, andcollaborating for healthy communitiesand holistic growth will ensure strongperformance in the short and long term.LIMITATIONSThis 2019 release is the third version ofthe Guide, which was originally releasedin 2017. The authors recognize thatsustainability encompasses many topics, notall of which are addressed by this document.The Work Group strives to add timely andrelevant new content annually.3

cannabis cultivation significant aspectsand related impacts in denverThe Denver 2020 Sustainability Goals, as well as the 80x50 Goals mentioned on the previouspage, help guide sustainability work in the City and County of Denver. The cannabis industry’ssignificant environmental aspects and related impacts are listed below and highlightedthroughout this document.SUSTAINABILITY DRIVERSECONOMIC CTDENVER 2020SUSTAINABILITYGOALSRELATED IMPACTSSIGNIFICANT ASPECTSCLIMATEMATERIALS USEECOSYSTEMSINDOOR AIR QUALITYWATER QUALITYGHG EMISSIONSCOMMUNITY RELATIONSWATER CONSUMPTIONEMPLOYEE WELL-BEINGODOR CONTROLREGIONAL STAKEHOLDERALIGNMENTEFFLUENT DISCHARGEOPERATIONAL ANDCOMPLIANCE BUDGETSSOLID WASTE GENERATIONREGULATORY COMPLIANCEENERGY CONSUMPTIONLAND USE4

The Cannabis Environmental Best Management Practices Guide (Guide) is the product of the Denver Environmental Health (DEH) Cannabis Sustainability Work Group (CSWG), an interdisciplinary collaborative sustainability work group convened in 2016 for the purpose of providing sector-specific sustainability resources