Build Better Podcast Cannabis

Designing for the Cannabis Industry with Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson

In episode 15 of the Build Better podcast, HP’s publisher, Anastasia Barnes, welcomed Brian Anderson, founding partner of Anderson Porter Design, to talk about designing and building for the cannabis industry and what he and other professionals across the nation are doing to set guidelines for responsible cultivation and manufacturing of cannabis products.

Anderson has over 25 years of experience in the field of architecture, and over five years of concentration in architecture for the cannabis Industry. He and his firm have an extensive background in integrated security, clean room and bio labs which, combined, give them much of the experience and knowledge required to design these facilities.

Having completed over 25 retail dispensaries and over 900,000sf of cultivation facilities, the team is well-versed in the many facets of these unique projects, including the ways to adhere to the state of Massachusetts’ strict energy requirements. Anderson says, “Massachusetts leads the nation in targeting energy sustainability, so the bar is set very high here.” As a result, he adds, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) in the state has embraced those regulations and requires that anyone entering the industry must conform to them.

This means that cannabis growers and manufacturers have to look for energy-efficient methods of lighting and cooling the spaces, seek out materials that best contain that energy, and work with utility companies to pursue the options that contribute to energy savings.

Anderson is a member of the California Cannabis Industry Association and also chairs the National Cannabis Industry Association’s (NCIA) Facilities Design Committee. He and 17 other professionals across the nation formed the committee this year to support the cannabis industry and “broaden their position in the regulated environment of energy policy and building science and engineering.”

The NCIA works to defend and expand the responsible cannabis industry by protecting legal cannabis businesses, defending state laws, and advancing federal policy reforms. The purpose of the organization, and of the committee, Anderson says, is to “set guidelines so the industry can operate within those guidelines.” Because the industry is not currently regulated on a federal level, the mission requires looking ahead to the time when the FDA will control the manufacturing of cannabis products, and planning accordingly.

Anderson says, “I think we need to look through the lens of the FDA and say, how do we make sure that the space in which the drug is manufactured contributes to the health and wellness of the people who consume it?” With a drug that crosses the blood-brain barrier, many factors must be considered, including operating clean and sterile facilities, and seeking alternatives to harmful pesticides traditionally used on other plants. Additionally, a priority should be put on indoor air quality, worker safety, and energy consumption.

Ultimately, Anderson says, his goal with NCIA’s Facilities Design Committee is to “set guidelines so the industry can operate within those guidelines,” and to “do something to help the industry advance.” He is excited to have found a way to apply all of his experience to a new and growing industry, and to help businesses in the space continue to develop and build responsibly.  

Click here to listen to episode 15 now!