MedPharm Iowa, LLC
Des Moines, IA
Baker Group Scope
As Iowa’s first manufacturer to grow and manufacture medical cannabis, MedPharm sought to remodel/retrofit an existing warehouse facility with offices, grow rooms and lab space, where oil would be extracted and processed into a variety of medical cannabis products. To meet the State of Iowa’s deadline for having products on dispensary shelves, an extremely aggressive schedule was required.
Baker Group provided Design, BIM/preconstruction, prefabrication and construction services for:
- Sheet Metal
- Electrical Switchgear
- Power Distribution Emergency Power
- Fiber Optic
- Building Automation
Meeting the unique needs of the facility required completely gutting and redesigning, building and installing new Mechanical systems. Additionally, Baker Group expanded, reworked and tested the facility’s existing Electrical systems, which included accommodating exceptionally high load requirements of grow rooms.
“Structurally we had to figure out where water was coming in and how to get it out, how to put infrastructure inside a building that has limited ceiling and roof space, etc. We used 3D modeling, which enabled us to be efficient, minimize surprises and get the project done on time,” says Hunter Schmitt, Assistant Project Manager.
Joe Ingersoll, Senior Project Manager, adds, “We know how to get owners to market faster. This allows them to pay off costs sooner and see those new revenue streams start rolling in far ahead of traditional construction methods.”
Strategically Completing Work, One Phase at a Time
The owner, general contractor, Baker Group and other project partners worked collaboratively to plan and execute the project in three phases: Office, grow rooms, and laboratory, each of which had distinctly different Mechanical and Electrical needs.
Not until the first phase (office space) was completed did planning for the next phase begin. This allowed office personnel to begin operations while construction services were just beginning for grow rooms. By the time the work began on the laboratory space, grow rooms were complete and plants were in the soil. And when the laboratory was done, plants were ready to harvest and process.
“Not knowing the precise requirements of the next phase meant we needed to build in flexibility for the connections that might be needed for the grow rooms and laboratory,” says Schmitt. “This required careful and close coordination with the owner.”
Phase 1: Office. Baker Group used three rooftop units to provide heating and cooling to the office and conference room areas.
Phase 2: Grow Rooms. To optimize plant growth:
- blower coil units were installed and supplemented with oscillating fans to simulate outdoor conditions
- special lighting conditions and timing cycles emulate the sun and night/day cycle
- humidity and carbon dioxide control support plant growth
- a reverse osmosis system was installed for watering plants, to which nutrients can be added
To meet the grow rooms’ high electrical load requirement, Baker Group engineered final loads and weighed those against the service capability to ensure the system could handle it. “This was critical to avoiding costly service upgrades in the future,” says Ingersoll.
Phase 3: Laboratory. As part of equipping the lab with appropriate and effective Mechanical and Electrical infrastructure to support extracting oil, manufacturing and testing product, and shipping it to customers, Baker Group provided reverse osmosis water and compressed air.
Fast to Market
“Getting grow and laboratory facilities like MedPharm to market quickly is not new to Baker Group,” adds Ingersoll. “As a design-build contractor with experience in virtually every industrial and commercial setting, we are able to take an immediate assessment of what is needed and move design and construction to market much faster than the traditional plan-and-spec model.”