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US (MI): Cannabis cultivation increases yield through HVAC retrofit

Like most North American cannabis industry grow-ops, Real Leaf Solutions (RLS), Kalkaska, Mich., is still refining its growing methods, but the two-year-old company may have finally found a state-of-the-art HVAC design that will help it reach optimum yields in the near future. 

Tom Beller, RLS’ co-owner and chief operations officer, believes his latest HVAC retrofit for two 1,500-square flowering rooms is a major step toward optimum harvest goals. It consists of fabric duct supplied by six and eight-ton variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems; a combination he’ll use when doubling the operation this year from 12,000 to 24,000 square feet. Beller’s confidence is backed by last harvest’s 20-percent yield improvement, which he attributes partially to the new HVAC design.

Beller’s HVAC retrofit design team was headed by mechanical contractor, Marc Burnette, president, Superior Heating and Cooling (SHC), Traverse City, Mich.; Brad Bonnville, regional sales manager at fabric duct manufacturer FabricAir, Lawrenceville, Ga.; the Fujitsu VRF team at Johnstone Supply, Traverse City; and Jeromy LaRock, outside sales West Michigan at manufacturer’s representative, Major Lozuaway, Grand Blanc, Mich.

Prior RLS HVAC challenges revolved around getting airflow to the plants and their soilless peat/coca mix at the right velocity, uniformity, temperature and relative humidity (RH). The fabric duct solution incorporates a linear orifice array at the 4 and 8 o’clock positions on each 20-inch-diameter. The Combi 70 fabric also disperses approximately 12-percent of the airflow through the duct’s permeable surface to prevent condensation. The factory-engineered permeability and linear dispersion result in a uniform 2,500-CFM air distribution per duct run that helps plants thrive.


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