The Land-Grant Brewing Company's Sun-Grant Series is inspired by the Sun-Grant Association, a group of Land-Grant Universities that research and develop sustainable and environmentally friendly bio-based energy alternatives.
Brewing beer depends directly on nutritious soils, clean waterways, and a healthy climate. Without vibrant ecosystem services, the wheat, malts, and hops that go into our beer wouldn’t be as nutritious or flavorful, and the beer would suffer for it. Mashing, boiling, fermenting, and packaging that liquid gold requires a whole lot of energy, which means more greenhouse gases emitted that add to the effects of climate change, and directly impact the natural environment we depend so much on. It’s a vicious cycle, but we’re cutting our energy consumption to lower our carbon footprint, and that starts with measuring and managing.
In our first year we used resources from the Brewers Association to track, measure, and manage our utility consumption, and benchmark that usage against other breweries of similar sizes. We also used best practices provided by Allagash Brewing Company out of Portland, ME to create an energy efficiency maintenance program, and evaluated several energy efficiency projects throughout our brewery.
Using resources and tools provided by the Brewers Association, we’ve been able to track our utilities and compare them with other breweries of similar sizes, which has shown us that we can be more efficient by creatively managing our resources and being conscious of our consumption in our brewing process. We aim to cut our energy use per barrel by 69% over the next three years, which will prevent nearly 130,000 lbs/59 tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere.
UTILITY TRACKING + MANAGEMENT
One of the first programs we created in our sustainability program was a Utility Tracking & Management system, which is an efficiency best practice for any building. Using online tools provided by the Brewers Association, we began measuring our consumption of electricity, natural gas, water, as well as our wastewater flow, solid waste, and recycling. By measuring this utility information, we were able to launch several efficiency projects and measure their impact, to know what worked and what didn’t:
Energy Efficiency Maintenance Again, using technical resources from the Brewers Association and advice from Allagash Brewing, we were able to develop a list of maintenance projects that reduced our carbon footprint. Some of these included: adjustment of equipment startup-run-and shutdown times, fixing and plugging leaks in our boiler, looking for leaks in our CO2 and compressed air lines, adjusting our cooler setpoints, creating an auxiliary rounds program, and conducting a simple energy audit. While were able to begin many of these projects this year, we weren’t able to make our way through the entire list. In 2018, we’ll be streamlining these processes to be more efficient and effective, and further reduce our carbon footprint.
Daylighting Calendar We’re lucky in that our brewing space is full of windows, and we’re able to do most of brewing work by daylight. While we’ve occasionally done this since we opened, we formalized the process by measuring the hours we daylighted, planned changes in weather, and pushed ourselves to use more daylighting when possible. While it may sound simple, we found we were able to cut our energy use substantially while brewing even more beer than we had in the past, and many studies show that there are not only environmental benefits to working by daylight, but also many quality of life and human health benefits as well.
Closing the Envelope While we made some substantial efficiency gains in our utility usage, we could still do better. Any green building professional will tell you that the first thing you have to do when trying to be sustainable is to close your buildings envelope. In other words, make sure you insulate so that there’s no energy and heat leaking out of your building so you in turn don’t overuse either. While we love our brewery, we also know she’s a very old building (a 100 year old former elevator factory, to be specific). We focused a lot on electricity and gas this year, and while we were able to beat our electricity efficiency goal, we missed our gas efficiency goal – despite being more efficient than last year. We know that a part of this is that our building’s envelope isn’t closed, and we’re taking some big steps in 2018 to address this.
ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTING CHANGEOUT
We told you earlier that we released the Sun-Grant beer to both celebrate sustainability and to create an internal fund for sustainability projects. Changing out our building’s entire lighting system with energy efficient bulbs was the culmination of this work. Thanks to our partners at Evolved Lighting Solutions were able to reduce our energy consumption for lighting inside by 50% and outside by 80%, creating substantial energy reductions for our building in the later part of the year, and we can’t thank them enough for being so helpful.
We know that even if we become 100% sustainable in our operations, the emissions that exist throughout our supply chain from shipping and sourcing will still fuel the effects of climate change. But we’re doing our part and we’ll work with our suppliers, partners, and neighbors to make sure that future generations have a healthy climate. Check back here for more carbon reduction updates.