permitting cannabis operations

November 6, 2023

At SCS Engineers, it’s not just about managing odor; it’s about clearing the air and fostering a greener, more responsible cannabis industry that can grow even in urban areas.


One of the unique aspects of SCS Engineers’ environmental services is our holistic approach to odor management for plant touching facilities. We understand that addressing minor sources of odor can lead to significant improvements in overall air quality. SCS solutions focus on chemical and physical controls and operational changes that can provide stable and reliable odor emissions abatement.

SCS’s commitment to environmental responsibility is evident in our work. Our engineers and scientists employ state-of-the-art technologies to assess odor issues from plant touching businesses and design cost-effective plans to mitigate off-site odor impacts, improving the air quality of nearby communities. These solutions are attractive to plant touching commercial cannabis operations and greenhouses that cultivate, manufacture, and transport cannabis.

Solutions for controlling the advent of odors and mitigating them stem from solutions useful in other facilities, including landfills, composting facilities, food processing plants, and wastewater treatment plants. The SCS Engineers’ approach, building on the success of these operations, utilizes specialized tools and field-proven technologies that determine the specific odor footprint of a particular facility or greenhouse. Collecting continuous measurements and using data enables the assessment of concentrations in real-time and multiple locations and sources within a facility. This method determines relative odor levels and spatial/temporal fluctuations in odor-causing emissions. Using these data and measurements, the team builds a plan to control and mitigate impacts, creating tailored solutions that address them more effectively and for the long term, which is cost-conscious.

At the 2023 Cannabis Conference, SCS engaged with municipalities, cannabis producers, dispensary operators, and technical firms to discuss the application of these technologies within the cannabis industry. Our odor monitoring and management expertise aligns perfectly with the industry’s need for responsible and sustainable practices. Odor control also comes with secondary benefits, such as improving cultivation yield, reducing mold impacts, and improving indoor air quality.


Additional Resources:


Christopher PetroAbout the Author: Christopher Petro, MSCE, EIT, is a Project Manager for SCS Engineers, providing technical and managerial support for environmental compliance, regulatory, and odor management projects. He has 17 years of experience in planning, engineering, grant writing, and construction development. He currently manages projects in Central California. Reach out to Chris at or via LinkedIn.




Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

November 29, 2022

Obtaining air permit applications for cannabis manufacturing and operations - SCS Engineers
Some agricultural operations require approval from the local planning commission and air permits from the local air regulatory agency for manufacturing operations. Obtaining these permits enables industry and housing to remain good neighbors.


Agricultural growing and harvesting operations are typically exempt from air planning, permitting and odor nuisance regulations. However, cannabis operations may require approval from the local Planning Commission. They may also require air permits from the local air regulatory agency for manufacturing operations (e.g., for solvents and associated combustion equipment such as boilers). Air permit applications for cannabis manufacturing operations may include the following based on project-specific conditions:

  • Emission inventories of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air pollutants;
  • Best Available Control Technology (BACT);
  • Air Quality Impact Assessment (AQIA);
  • Health Risk Assessment (HRA);
  • Emission Reduction Credits (ERCs); and
  • Ambient air monitoring.

In addition to these permitting services, and to avoid costly nuisance complaints, cannabis growers may also need odor-related services such as:

  • Odor assessment audits;
  • Odor sampling;
  • Odor dispersion modeling;
  • Odor mitigation;
  • Specialized Total Reduced Sulfate (TRS) Monitoring (Odor Surrogate);
  • Ventilation evaluations for greenhouses and processing buildings;
  • Odor Abatement Plans (OAPs) and Odor Management Plans (OMPs); and
  • Planning Commission hearing support.

While these may seem like imposing lists for air planning they are not for engineers who work in the industry.

Developing effective plans to mitigate odors is vital in gaining Planning Commission approvals which often depend upon resolving concerns raised by the public. Comprehensive OAPs and OMPs include odor control Best Management Practices (BMPs) and adaptive management strategies for responding to odor complaints when cannabis operations are near residences and schools.


Odor Control – Odor Nuisance Mitigation Case Study

Cannabis greenhouses in the Carpinteria, California region were causing off-site odor nuisances at nearby residences. The inherent smell needed addressing, as odor-neutralizing vapors along cannabis greenhouse perimeters and ridgelines were not providing adequate odor control.

Working with Cannabis Association for Responsible Producers (CARP) Growers, Pacific Stone, Groundswell, and Envinity Group, SCS Engineers utilized its air quality and odor expertise to collect continuous measurements using our SCSent-i-PED (Pollutant and Environmental Data). SCSent-i-PED is a state-of-the-art method for measuring TRS compounds to the parts per billion (ppb) level. The system can assess concentrations in real time, and a single machine can assess multiple locations and sources within a facility. This method successfully assessed relative odor levels and spatial/temporal fluctuations in odor-causing emissions.

Data collection is vital and useful to:

  • Evaluate what is feasible conceptually versus operationally;
  • Predict when the highest odor concentrations occur within a cannabis greenhouse;
  • Develop standard operating procedures to minimize off-site odors; and
  • Optimize cannabis greenhouse scrubber performance.

SCS, through its years of experience in air quality and odors, provides cost-effective, sustainable solutions that enable greenhouses and facilities to coexist in urban and suburban environments. Our clients not only get solutions, but they also have the data and science to understand better how odors behave and vary within a cannabis greenhouse.


To learn more, watch a video about air planning and managing greenhouse odors at


Paul SchaferAbout the Author: Paul Schafer is a Vice President and Project Director at SCS Engineers and the firm’s National Expert on Ambient Air Monitoring. During his technical career, Paul has assumed key roles in several nationally significant monitoring efforts. He has in-depth experience interfacing with regulatory agencies regarding the performance of monitoring systems, source emission tests, and continuous process monitors, which SCS operates for our clientele. He has had direct working experience with multiple local, state, and federal agencies regarding monitoring programs and air quality impact assessments. As with all solutions at SCS, cost control management and defensible technical performance are primary goals integral to all sustainable monitoring programs.






Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am