Cannabis Cleanroom Construction

This post regards the specific construction components of building a cleanroom for medical cannabis cultivation. Previously, we’ve written about the dangers of contaminated cannabis, and how it affects the overall quality and safety of cannabis products. Cleanroom construction factors a number of variables, in this post we’ll outline the structural requirements and basic components of an ultra clean space. You’ll also find information about taking the next step if you’re interested in upgrading, building, or retrofitting an existing cannabis manufacturing facility.

Structural Design for Medical Cannabis Cleanrooms

Cleanroom control systems and electrical designs are critical, but so are considerations for structural, architectural, and application compliance. Cannabis cleanrooms with modular components ease adaptation of adjacent structures, cascaded classification of interior rooms, expandable compliance, and relocation.

Typical cannabis facilities segment grow rooms for various stages of processing, strains, and plant cycles. Mother, clone, and flower rooms flourish when temperature and humidity is maintained independently with task specific engineering controls.

Read more: The 10 Step Guide to Cleanroom Design

Walls and Ceiling Heights

The advantage of a modular cannabis cultivation cleanrooms is that grow room walls and ceiling structures remain sovereign from preexisting structures and parallel grow, flower, or seedling rooms. Each room is built independently with modules for the floors, ceilings, panels, walls, and electrical and HVAC system. A modular installation is faster, requires minimal tools, and requires no sawing or cutting. Scheduled delivery of preassembled components allows project management around existing manufacturing operations and minimizes space requirements for construction staging. For example, walls damaged by heavy equipment like forklifts are easily swapped out within a matter of hours.

Advancements in cleanroom wall panels demonstrate the unhindered control over not only exterior room dimensions and environments, but also over internal wall designs. Modular wall panel extends design freedom by offering customization of internal insulation for improved heat retention. The ability to integrate electrical conduits, product passthroughs, windows, ducting, air filters, and storage cabinets into structural design accelerates installation and overall performance. Space and workflow is optimized on application specific basis.

Cannabis Cleanroom Installations

Independent construction of modular cleanroom components allow the removal of grow room walls or individual panels without disturbing adjacent panels, flooring, or ceiling systems. Quick disassembly and the ability to relocate grow rooms lowers the cost of adapting existing facilities. Downtime and disruption of adjacent workspaces or grow rooms is minimal. Parallel, non-destructive builds reduce overall build time, and mitigate intrusive noise, particulate, and foot traffic of traditional construction activities. The flexibility of modular design allows the retrofitting a new structure around previously existing HVAC, electrical lines, and production equipment.

Tax Advantages of Modular Cannabis Cleanrooms 

Conventional building construction uses a depreciation schedule of 39 years, while modular construction is depreciated over 7 years. The adoption of temporary structures allows a decrease tax burden and therefore a quicker return on investment. The entire structure is a depreciable asset, so you can write of the cost of your building in half the time you would otherwise, which is an enormous benefit given the current tax implications of working in the cannabis industry.

California Requirements for Multi Stage Marijuana Grows 8106 Cultivation Plan Requirements

The Bureau of Cannabis prioritizes a hefty increase in regulations for cannabis cultivation for successful cannabis standards.

(A) Canopy area(s) (which shall contain mature plants, at any point in time) including aggregate square footage;
(B) Area(s) outside of the canopy where only immature plants shall be maintained, if applicable;
(C) Designated pesticide and other agricultural chemical storage area(s);
(D) Designated processing area(s) if the licensee will process on site;
(E) Designated packaging area(s) if the licensee will package products on site;
(F) Designated composting area(s) if the licensee will compost cannabis waste on site;
(G) Designated secured area(s) for cannabis waste if different than subsection (F) above;
(H) Designated area(s) for harvested cannabis storage;

Air Flow and HVAC Systems for Rooms and Corridors

Microenvironments within larger umbrella structures such as large warehouse often lack proper insulation and air conditioning systems. Cleanrooms need a lot of air and usually at a controlled temperature and humidity. This means that in most facilities the cleanrooms Air Handling Units (AHU) consume over 60% of all the site power. As a general rule of thumb, the cleaner the cleanroom needs to be, the more air it will need to use. To reduce the expense of modifying the ambient temperature or humidity, AHU or systems are designed to recirculate (if product characteristics permit) about 80% air through the room, removing particulate contamination as is it generated and whilst keeping the temperature and humidity stable.

                                        View: Cannabis Cleanroom Air Purifiers

Particulate (contamination) in the air tends to either float around or stick to near surfaces. Most airborne particles will slowly settle, with the settling rate dependent on their size. A well-designed air handling system should deliver both “fresh” and “recirculated” filtered clean air into the cleanroom in such a way and at a rate so that it flushes the particles from the room. Depending on the nature of the operations, the air taken out of the room is usually recirculated through the air handling system where filters remove the particulates. High levels of moisture, noxious vapours or gases from processes, raw materials or products cannot be recirculated back into the room, so the air in these cleanrooms is often exhausted to atmosphere and then 100% fresh air is introduced into the facility.

Positive pressure cleanrooms feature an air flow pattern that pushes air outward which is ideal for cannabis cleanroom designs. Higher air pressure in a centralized room ensures that dirty air from surrounding rooms does not permeate into clean spaces via entryway doors, cracks, or passthroughs.

Air Flow and Pressure Design for Medical Cannabis Grows

A positive pressure design is a key adaptation for medical cannabis grows, so that airborne pollen, spores, mites, or room air does not permeate the walls of the most critical spaces.

“Typically, low moisture medicinal products such as tablets or capsules are dry and dusty, therefore more likely to be a significant cross-contamination risk. If the “clean” area pressure differential was positive to the corridor, the powder would escape out of the room and enter the corridor, and is likely then to be transferred into the next door cleanroom. Thankfully, most dry formulations do not readily support microbial growth, so as a general rule, tablets and powders are made in “clean corridor” facilities, as opportunistic microorganisms floating in the corridor don’t find environments in which to thrive. This means that the rooms are negatively pressurised to the corridor.”

Power Distribution and Energy Savings

Power distribution modules provide circuit protection and large-scale device amplification for components such as lights and fan filters. These systems simplify cleanroom installation but do not provide a simple mechanism of automating or adjusting power levels dynamically. Remote air balancing systems route fan filter controls to a central control for macro and micro adjustments.

Air Filters and Efficiency

Throughout the life of a filter, particulate slowly clogs air passage and air velocity decreases. Small speed adjustments ensure that the growing operation maintains and ideal air exchange and pressure cascade throughout each grow room or processing area. Independent velocity control also extends the life of the filters by eliminating unnecessary air flow loads while also decreasing energy costs.

Air Showers

Air showers prepare cannabis cultivators for grow room entry by pressurizing air to remove any contaminants, mites, or mold spores that cling to garments.  They are three primary designs for air showers: a step in step out design, a straight through design, and air showers for parts and equipment that enters a clean space. The advantage of a straight through design is that is helps maintain pressure cascades and eliminates flow through of any invasive particulate.

 

“Pre-engineered construction and fixed installation time were the two biggest factors. Construction was complete in two weeks. The crew worked non-stop, nobody was ever sitting around waiting on materials, and we didn’t have to call for structural inspections to slow things down. Plus, the entire structure is a depreciable asset, so you can write of the cost of your building in half the time you would otherwise, which is an enormous benefit given the current tax implications of working in the cannabis industry. Cleanroom design was the other big factor. The rooms have very high insulation value which improves cooling efficiency, and they are tightly sealed which improves humidity control and prevents cross contamination. This also allows us to deal with pollen without fear of seeding out one of our flower rooms. ” – Mother & Clone

Related Cleanroom Posts