HVACR Contractors Finding Success in Indoor Grow Market

marijuana legalization

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.

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Marijuana Legalization a Game Changer for the Field Service Industry

marijuana legalization

On October 17, 2018, the Federal government legalized the use of recreational marijuana in Canada. While many Canadians celebrated what’s come to be called “National Cannabis Day”, not everyone was feeling as jubilant. These changes to the legal status of marijuana have raised occupational health and safety concerns for many employers, especially for those in construction and field service where safety is already a concern and workers must be alert at all times. Millions of Canadians take risks every day in dozens of demanding “safety-sensitive” occupations: elevator mechanics working in shafts, commercial and industrial HVAC technicians working on rooftops or with dangerous refrigerants, and many more. With the legalization of recreational pot, business owners are facing some serious challenges: liability if a stoned employee causes an accident, pushback from workers who resist random drug and alcohol tests, and the lack of a settled standard around either how much cannabis is too much, or how to measure it.

Here are a few things contractors should know in order to reduce the safety risks that may arise from cannabis legalization:

The legalization of marijuana does not mean that employees can be impaired at work. Employers will have the right to set rules for non-medical use of marijuana in the workplace in much the same way that employers currently set rules for use of alcohol. In particular, employers may prohibit the use of marijuana at work or during working hours and may also prohibit employees from attending work while impaired. This zero tolerance policy should be recorded in a written drug and alcohol policy.

The duty to accommodate does extend to medical marijuana. As an employer, contractors have obligations under the Human Rights Code. If an employee is authorized to use cannabis for a medical purpose, the employer must treat it like any other medication and may have a duty to accommodate. The employer may be required to offer to the employee an alternative job that can be properly and safely done while using medical cannabis, if such a role exists.

However, the duty to accommodate is not without limits. If accommodating the employee will raise serious safety and health concerns on the site or significantly increase costs of operations, contractors may be exempt from providing the accommodation. Accommodating an employee does not mean that you should ever let employees carry out their duties while impaired, especially when driving, operating heavy machinery, or working at heights.

Contracting companies’ best line of defence for the legalization of cannabis in Canada starts with an updated drug and alcohol policy. Contractors should work with a legal adviser to ensure their drug and alcohol policies are clear and up to date. It is also important to ensure employees sign a written acknowledgment that they have read and understood the policy in its new and revised form

Train Your Employees About Dangers and Policy. Contractors should educate employees about the dangers of using equipment and working at heights while under the influence of cannabis. Although there have been numerous public education campaigns about the dangers of alcohol impairment, there is less public education about the impact of cannabis on a person’s reaction time and alertness. Employees may be under the misimpression that cannabis has little impact on their ability to work safely. Employees should also be taught all aspects of the new drug and alcohol policy with a particular emphasis on recognizing impairment in others and what to do if you suspect someone is impaired on-site.

With the construction industry already heavily regulated, it’s important now more than ever to make certain your company is in full compliance.  FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

For more information:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/cannabis-legalization#section-8

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