LEED for Weed: Part II

How time flies. 

A year and half ago I was sitting in a cramped room in a downtown Portland office building listening to energy consultant John Morris talk about something I had never heard of before:  the enormous amount of energy consumed by the cannabis industry

A few months later, Morris expounded on the same topic in our Hot Topics/Cool Talks panel discussion on the marijuana biz.

Both of these events took place before legalization went into effect.

Now cannabis is everywhere in Oregon, and the energy hog watchers are getting organized. 

Exhibit A is the newly formed Resource Innovation Institute, a nonprofit that is building a platform for collaboration on energy issues in the cannabis industry and developing a market based certification program to drive energy efficient practices.

It’s LEED for Weed, a phrase I first heard uttered by Morris in that downtown office building. So I wasn't surprised to hear that Morris, now CEO of his own consulting firm, is one of the founders of RII. 

The organization has other big names behind it:

Margi Hoffman, Kitzhaber's former energy adviser, is a founder and board chair. 

Another founder is Derek Smith, best known in Portland green circles for his leadership with Clean Energy Works, the nonprofit that got its start during the recession with stimulus money and then expanded to include earthquake retrofits.  

Smith was the state's first chief earthquake officer for a brief moment in January — when Gov. Brown withdrew his name following concerns from legislators about his lack of experience.

And just this morning I got an email announcing Tonkon Torp attorney Alex Tinker was joining as a founding RII board member. (Not all law firms are jumping on the pot bandwagon, as I learned here).

One can track the evolution of Oregon's carbon reduction industry by following the careers of the state's major players.

Five years ago, boosting the energy efficiency of existing buildings was a priority, so much so that Kitzhaber put retrofits at the top of his energy priority list.

Since then definition of efficiency has expanded to include seismic improvements, on the grounds that the most sustainable building is one that lasts a long long time.

Now there's a new energy hog in town. It's an irony I'm still getting my head around: Marijuana, a longstanding symbol of the counterculture, is about as anti-establishment as a lump of coal, an energy source that will be phased out permanently in this state by 2035.

Linda Baker

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