This month, we sat down with Vinny Valentino, Land-Grant's official environmental enthusiast and Sustainability Manager. We learned more about the role he developed at Land-Grant, as well as his ambitions for zero waste and the initiatives he is cultivating to meet those goals.
Name: Vinny Valentino
Position: Sustainability Manager
How long have you been at Land-Grant?
I started as a part-time bartender in the middle of March 2016. I pitched the Sustainability Manager position that Fall and began in that position in the middle of November 2016.
What is it you do here?
I design, implement, and manage our various sustainability initiatives focused on reducing the environmental impact in our operations and our supply chain. To better measure and manage these efforts, the sustainability program is split into four pillars:
- Mitigation of Life Cycle Impact
- Reduction of Carbon Footprint
- Water Stewardship
- Deep Community Partnerships
Within each of these pillars are various projects that I implement and manage (such as energy efficiency, water use management, etc.), although the Community Partnerships are handled by our Outreach Coordinator, Jackie Kemble. That being said, some projects, such as zero waste programming for large events or diversion of our brewing byproduct, require working and partnering with various farms and agricultural groups around Columbus and Ohio. I manage these partnerships.
What exactly does “Mitigation of Life Cycle Impact” entail?
It’s a bit of a catch all. The “life cycle” of craft beer starts at the farms where we source the hops and grains that go into our beer, as well as the facilities we pull our malts from. Malting is a very energy intensive process, so we want to know how our suppliers source their energy. Then these ingredients are shipped here, so what kind of vehicles do our suppliers use? Large amounts of water, energy, and labor are required to turn those ingredients into our beer, which in turn is canned or kegged and sent to bars, restaurants, carry-outs, grocery stores, and stadiums throughout Central Ohio. That is our beer’s life cycle.
So, mitigating this means finding and creating initiatives that reduce our environmental impact throughout that entire cycle. In it’s infancy, our program is focusing on immediate steps we can take in our operations, but I’ve begun researching what we can do upstream and downstream from our brewery.
What’s next for sustainability at Land-Grant?
I’ve started talking to various farms around the Columbus area about how they might be able to use our brewing byproduct (spent grain, spent yeast, and trub) for their crops and animals. Right now we’re working with St. Stephen’s Community Center in Linden and Hoffman Farms in Hilliard, though I’d like to get a handful more involved so we can get most, if not all, of our byproduct out of our wastewater stream. That’d be a great step forward if we can do so by the end of the year.
I also just went through an energy audit of the whole building and there’s a lot of impactful first steps we can take to reduce the amount of energy we’re using throughout a brew day. And we just had our first zero waste event for the Homage x Land-Grant All-American BBQ where we had a 72.7% diversion rate. While it wasn’t quite zero waste, we did divert over 400 pounds from the landfill and learned a lot about how to be better next time (stay tuned for our Three-Year Anniversary party!).
What is your favorite day of the week at the brewery?
I’m a fan of Thursday’s. Ajumama makes some delicious Korean street food and Nik is usually behind the bar, which means his fantastic playlist is probably on. For fans of kimchi and alt-folk rock, I definitely recommend Thursday.