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Ask the Cannabis Expert – Isaac Liebes: How can cannabis cultivators lower their cost per pound by engaging an energy conservation company?

Bridge West Consulting had an opportunity to speak with Isaac Liebes, Managing Director, Cannabis Consulting GreenLight Energy Conservation, to learn about their services and the ways in which they are assisting cannabis cultivators. 

What is GreenLight Energy Conservation, and how did your company become involved in the cannabis industry?

Founded in 2013, GreenLight Energy Conservation is a full-service energy conservation company based in Lakewood, New Jersey. 

Isaac Liebes, Managing Director, Cannabis Consulting GreenLight Energy Conservation

GreenLight serves several different divisions of the utility industry. The original division was started to help customers upgrade their lighting to more energy-efficient lighting, usually through LED upgrades.

They primarily focused on multi-family homes, hospitality, and commercial real estate. Another division focuses on water conservation in buildings where the landlord or operator is responsible for the water bills. GreenLight will visit the properties and upgrade the water fixtures to more efficient ones.

In 2017, GreenLight started a “Utility Bill Audit” Division focusing on the cannabis industry.  They began servicing the cannabis industry since they realized that cultivators use significant amounts of energy. GreenLight’s goal is to identify opportunities for cannabis growers to use less energy. With a focus on the cannabis industry, GreenLight began processing rebates related to their lighting projects. They became very familiar with how utility companies work and how they bill their customers. Isaac Liebes, Managing Director, Cannabis Consulting GreenLight Energy Conservation, said, “It started to raise a red flag when we saw identical users being classified and structured differently.”

Isaac continued, “As it relates to the cannabis space today, GreenLight does not touch any equipment, and we do not change any of their current vendors. We review our clients’ utility bills for any opportunities we can identify through our Utility Bill Audit to save them money.”

Their first cannabis customer was in Colorado, and initially they were hesitant. Once they began working with them, and realized that they could help them, they used this example as a case study to show others what could be conserved in cannabis cultivation and how much could be saved through these audits.

What is your role at GreenLight?

Isaac’s role has focused on the cannabis space, where he sells and markets for GreenLight. 

Are there qualifications that cultivators must meet to work with GreenLight?

  • Both indoor and outdoor cultivators exist in the U.S. and GreenLight only works with indoor cultivators. Isaac said that it is okay if you are in a greenhouse or a fully indoor warehouse.
  • Any cultivators with over five to ten thousand feet of cultivation space qualify to work with GreenLight.

Do you focus on clients in New Jersey, or do you serve clients all over the United States?

Isaac said, “Most of my clients are not in New Jersey. New Jersey is a small market since recreational has recently become legal here. Most of my customers are in states like Colorado, Michigan, Massachusetts, and some in Florida.”

What is the process of a Utility Bill Audit?

Isaac explained, “Typically, it’s not necessary to go on-site to visit these cultivations to get their audit process started. It begins with GreenLight reviewing one recent copy of an electric, gas, and water bill. If they have propane or CO2, we can also look at those bills. Just by running an internal analysis of those invoices and can get enough information without going on-site. Based on this initial research, we can let clients know our feedback and if we think there are opportunities to save them money on their utility bills.”

Isaac continued, “If they qualify through this research, the next step would be to send an engineer on-site to verify the information and look at the equipment.” After that, they can continue to serve their client by keeping track of their invoices for their utilities to ensure that they stay on track and nothing unusual appears. GreenLight will monitor their utility bills for a set period of time and ensure no discrepancies are in the invoices.

At what stage in a cannabis company do you get involved?

Isaac said, “GreenLight generally services cannabis companies that are already established. It’s hard to identify discrepancies before the facility is up and running. Once cultivators have begun to grow cannabis, GreenLight can step in and make sure their energy usage isn’t unusual for the grow.”

 Isaac continued, “For that reason, most of the companies I work closely within the space are companies like lighting companies that are installing the LED grow lights or handling rebates for them. The lighting companies can bring GreenLight in after they have installed the lights and they’re up and running.”

On the East Coast, something currently more common is working with energy suppliers and brokers to help clients secure lower electric and gas usage rates. Isaac said, “Although sometimes, people confuse us with energy suppliers and brokers, thinking that we do the same things. But we work really well and hand-in-hand with these suppliers and brokers to make sure our customers are getting the best possible rates. We ensure that we have these great connections and relationships to refer one another and get involved at the right stages for all of our clients.”

Related to energy conservation, what advice and best practices can you share with cannabis operators?

Isaac said, “In the cannabis space, it’s so important to lower your cost per pound. In markets moving from the West coast to the East coast, the cost per pound is decreasing. To reduce that, you need to keep a close eye on your utility bill and ensure that it doesn’t tick up for something preventable. Make sure you have someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to utilities that they are monitoring and looking out for you and making sure that you’re properly structured and ensuring that you are getting charged on the correct classification types. Also, take advantage of utility offer rebates on your equipment, install the most efficient equipment, and do your best to keep your cost per pound low.”  

What are GreenLight’s future goals as the cannabis industry grows?

“Our main goal is to grow with the industry, and as the cannabis space expands, and we hope to serve more clients in different states. It will give us more opportunities to help other cannabis cultivators around the United States. We are happy to continue to serve the industry and provide our utility bill audits as we expand our offerings to other industries that could benefit from our services.”

What interests or hobbies do you have outside of work?

Isaac has a few passions in life, the first being that he is a huge baseball fan. He is also a huge fan of Wawa’s coffee.

More Information About GreenLight Energy Conservation

GreenLight Energy Conservation is dedicated to assisting our clients through reducing their electricity, fuel, and water consumption. GreenLight will equip your company with a comprehensive strategy that includes engineering analyses and design, project management and installation, and obtaining rebates from utility companies and government agencies.

GreenLight’s clients experience a secure return on investment, enhanced financial stability, and attainment of corporate sustainability and carbon footprint goals.