Marijuana is legal in 10 states, plus Washington, D.C., for recreational use, and 33 states for medical use. In Canada, it is legal across the country for both medicinal and recreational use. The legalization of marijuana has created a growing demand for HVACR contractors who can design quality and controlled climates suited to specific plants. Not confined to cannabis, however, indoor farming includes other applications such as hydroponics, vertical farming, and local urban agriculture. These sectors and others have created a new market for HVAC contractors — the indoor grow market.
When it comes to indoor farming, cannabis has dominated the conversation, as its legalization has led to a huge increase in the number of facilities that grow these plants. However, indoor farming encompasses more than just cannabis and includes all kinds of agricultural products, including produce and livestock.
All of these types of facilities require extensive HVAC systems to ensure the products being grown and housed have the correct amount of heating, cooling, ventilation, and humidity. By using the right equipment to strictly control the indoor climate, HVAC contractors play an important roll in helping growers improve the health of their crops and boost their yields.
According to a recent report by the research firm MarketsandMarkets, the indoor farming technology market is projected to reach $40.25 billion by 2022, up from $25.40 billion in 2017. While some of this growth can be attributed to the increasing demand for fresh foods that can be grown year-round, much of it will likely come from the cannabis market.
That’s because the cannabis industry is booming right now. It is a big opportunity for HVAC contractors, who will be required to address the many aspects of climate and environmental control for grow and agriculture facilities. This type of specialized knowledge may require additional training, as contractors will increasingly be asked to design HVAC systems that maintain a precise indoor environment in order to maximize crop yield and reduce energy usage. Growers may even need someone on staff or at the very least, have someone on call every day, 365 days a year, to maintain the contract because if equipment fails, that can cost a company a lot of money.
Ongoing maintenance contracts will be a significant aspect of the future of marijuana and other grow facilities. Taking on these projects and maintenance contracts can be financially lucrative. The marijuana industry is unique in that customers are not going to the phonebook or Google to find contractors — it’s all word of mouth. And once a grower finds a contractor they trust to take care of them, they are likely to be quite loyal. Growers will have very high-tech equipment and they will pay a premium to maintain it. A wide variety of systems have been introduced specifically for the marijuana growing application. Trane, Carrier and Johnson Controls are just a few manufacturers offering these products.
The indoor grow market has only scratched the surface. It is an emerging market that is only going to get bigger.