Cannabis Cleanroom Design and Construction Components

This post regards the specific construction components of ultra-clean cannabis grow rooms. Previously, we’ve written about the correlations of contaminated cannabis, and how it affects the overall quality and safety of cannabis users with compromised immune systems.

Here’s what you need to know. Cleanroom construction factors a number of variables. In this post, we’ll outline the structural requirements and basic components of a medical-grade 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.

In the above graphic, the potential ratio and floor sizes of the flower rooms are under-represented. Flowering rooms may exceed thousands of sq. ft. Modular cleanroom design allows unlimited expansion and partitions for various stages of processing, strains, and plant cycles. Mother, clone, and flower rooms flourish when temperature and humidity are maintained independently with task-specific engineering controls.

Read more: The 10 Step Guide to Cleanroom Design

Walls and Ceiling Heights

Modular cannabis cultivation cleanrooms allow grow room walls and ceiling structures to remain sovereign from preexisting structures and parallel grows. Cloning, flower, seedling, and processes rooms remain sovereign. 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 pre-assembled components allow project management around operation-as-usual. Space and construction staging is minimal. 

Cleanroom wall panels demonstrate unhindered control over exterior room dimensions and environmental conditioning. Modular wall panels extend design freedom. Insulation panels with variable R-value help balance cost and prevent over insulation. The ability to integrate electrical conduits, product pass-throughs, windows, ducting, air filters, and storage cabinets closes performance gaps. Operation space is designed as needed and ergonomics are optimized on an application-specific basis.

Cannabis Cleanroom Installations

Independent construction of modular cleanroom components allows 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, or foot traffic of traditional construction activities. The flexibility of modular designs allows the retrofitting of new structures around previously existing HVAC, electrical, and production systems.

Tax Advantages of Modular Cannabis Cleanrooms 

Conventional building construction uses a depreciation schedule of 39 years, while modular construction is depreciated over 7 years. Temporary structures decrease tax burdens and offer a faster return on investment. The entire structure is a depreciable asset. The write-off-speed is an enormous benefit, given the current tax implications and rapid growth of the cannabis industry.

California Requirements for Multi-Stage Cannabis Grows 

8106 Cultivation Plan Requirements

The Bureau of Cannabis prioritizes a hefty increase in regulations for cannabis cultivation. Partitioned dividing walls allow clear and clean separation between seedling, growing or processing spaces.

These are some 8106 notations that will shape designated cultivation space:

(A) Canopy area(s) (which contain mature plants, at any point in time) including aggregate 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 air, and a lot of it to regulate temperature, air purity, and humidity. In most facilities, air systems consume over 60% of all the site power. As a general rule of thumb, the cleaner the grow room needs to be, the more air it will use. To reduce the expense of modifying the ambient temperature or humidity, AHU (air handling units) are designed to recirculate about 80% air through the room, removing particulate contamination as is it generated and whilst keeping the temperature and humidity stable. A well-designed air handling system should deliver both “fresh” and “recirculated” filtered clean air into the cleanroom so that it flushes the particles room more efficiently. 

“Pre-engineered construction and fixed installation time were the two biggest factors. Construction was completed 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 off 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

View: Air Purifiers

Particulate 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 the size of the particle. 

Positive pressure cleanrooms feature an airflow pattern that pushes air outward. It’s 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 pass-throughs.

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, and adjacent air does not permeate 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.” – Mother & Clone

Power Distribution

Power distribution modules provide circuit protection and large-scale device amplification including support for lights and fan filters. These systems simplify cleanroom installation but do not provide a simple mechanism for 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 an 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 it helps maintain pressure cascades and eliminates flow through of any invasive particulate.

Want More Info on an Ultra-Clean Grow Room for Your Facility? 

Production Automation (that’s us), and our CleanPro® cleanroom division offer critical class cleanroom design, construction, installation, outfitting, design, testing, services. 

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