by NCIA’s Facilities Design Committee
Jacques Santucci, Brian Anderson, David Vaillencourt, and David Dixon
Continuing our five-part series on the behind-the-scenes workings of the legal cannabis industry. This series focuses on all of the inner dealings and industry advice from established professionals to craft this unlimited How-to-Guide to assist you in setting up your own facility. These articles cover cultivation, extraction, infused products, and retail facilities as well as support activities. In general, remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations and contact a licensed contractor and industry expert.
Part Five, General: Top Things to Consider When Planning Your Support Area for Cannabis Facilities
All parts of a facility are important when you are planning and designing your project, including cultivation, extraction, and retail. And let’s not forget the general services and the core structure of the facility. Your design must account for safety and security as well as employee relations and administration. Listed below are a number of guidelines that an operator should consider from a general standpoint as they are in the process of designing their operation. Always remember to be compliant with all local rules and regulations.
Production and facility lockers need to be separate for male and female and it will have a minimum square foot per employee requirement. Knowing your employee count and the number of shifts will allow you to calculate the minimum space needed.
Employee Break Room and Locker Space
Consider a break room that can host all employees for breaks and lunches, with a sink, fridge, microwave, and tables and chairs. This will help employee productivity and retention. Where the break room is located is important to keep employees separated from internal business practices while eating and resting. This area can also be a space for coat hangers and small bag lockers when a specific locker is not required or available. The gowning area is used as the dividing line in a mix-used facility.
Employee Access Control
You need to limit doors access and key sets for employees as part of your overall security plan. Additionally, do not forget about appropriate labels for doors and the need for access to space only. The idea is to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing the extraction space and complaining about the local regulatory body.
Safety and Injury Handing
An adequate number of First Aid and Burn Kits should be fully stocked and readily available to all of your employees, at all times. Ideally, these kits will be within a 10-15 second walking distance from workstations.
IT Rooms and Setup
Regardless of the facility type, you will need appropriate secured areas for servers, security equipment, and other IT racks, as well as camera systems with specific features for night, license plate reading abilities, and more. Specific HVAC might be needed for this room.
Safety and Employee Showers
Emergency showers are determined by code and the type of activities performed at the location. Eye wash stations may also be required or suggested.
Emergency showers are located in the facility where corrosives and skin irritants could pose harm to employees and require immediate remediation. It could be considered as a benefit to employees so they can eliminate any odors as they leave the facility. Calculate the number of employees and determine based on the code requirements for the number of showers needed.
Emergency Eye Wash
Eye wash stations are to be located within 10-15 seconds’ walking distance for a potential risk area. Check local requirements for additional needs.
Security Entrance: Facility Safety
Consider the flow at the entrance of your facility, to optimize not only security but also the comfort of the visitors and employees as well as environmental control. And think about the comfort of your employees as they enter the facility, such as awnings. Create a separate mantrap-style entrance to allow for better safety at the entrance point, to monitor visitors as well as avoid weather-related issues (i.e. wet areas due to rain or snow, temperature variance due to heat, etc.). Check for compliance with local rules and regulations.
Security Camera: Minimum Area of Coverage
You should have 100% minimum security coverage; any area where cannabis products will exist. And keep in mind it is best that the security room has its own dedicated HVAC system.
Security Camera: Minimum Data Storage
The basic security footage storage requires are 90-days of on-site storage, then five years of off-site storage. Off-site data storage for future legal needs is 1080p minimum.
Security Alarm: Monitoring
Make sure a reputable company is monitoring your facility’s security. Redundancy might not be needed. In compliance with local rules and regulations.
Do not forget that your employees, at least at the management level and above will need space to do paperwork and hold staff meetings. Plan to have a minimum of 90 square feet of office space available for each manager and meeting space. Try not to underestimate the need for administrative space (i.e. payroll, human resources, accounting, marketing, etc.) and plan for general storage space. Your basic corporate services need the appropriate space to run the business efficiently, in a confidential manner.
When it comes to parking, consider the flow of the employees and your customers as you design your facility so you have adequate parking for all, in a safe and secure manner. Remember to reserve spaces for handicapped drivers as well as motorcycles.
Janitorial and Facility Maintenance
Keep in mind how you will keep your facility clean and in working order at all times. Avoid dusty surfaces, standing water, and all environmental and other hazardous issues. Consider enough storage for janitorial and facility maintenance items, including a workbench if necessary.
Remember considerations for the environment around your facility. Certain plant types and species are known to both harbor insects and pests that may be beneficial or harmful to cannabis plants. This will result in long-lasting effects on your plant health. Proper considerations of landscape design can become beneficial to your overall integrated pest management program and to your operation. Material used around your cannabis facility will also have an impact. We recommend using crushed stones around a building for example.
Check Out These Related Articles for More Top Things to Consider When Planning:
Part 1 – Cannabis Cultivation Facilities
Part 2 – Cannabis Extraction Facilities
Part 3 – Cannabis Food Production Facilities
Part 4 –Cannabis Retail & Dispensary Facilities
Part 5 – Cannabis Facility Support Areas