Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Truly Green Beer

First off, Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!! Cheers! And, on a personal note, Happy Anniversary to us! Here's to many more years together.

St. Patrick's Day is a well-known time for green beer. Beer dyed green is all well and good, but there is another type of green beer, a type that is truly Green Beer, and we wanted to dedicate some space to it. This company is an inspiration to us.

New Belgium Brewing ~

New Belgium Brewing is located in Fort Collins, Colorado. According to their website, see above link, here are the ways they are Alternatively Empowered.

Our Alternatively Empowered efforts:

While there are many ways to be stewards of the earth, each company must determine which strengths they have to leverage. Here are some of ours:
1. Increased efficiencies in the brewing process
Our brew kettle, Steinecker's Merlin, was the second of its kind installed in the U.S. and is considered more efficient than standard brew kettles because it heats thin sheets of wort rather than the whole kettle at once.
During wort boil, the steam exits the kettle through a stack and into a heat exchanger which continually extracts heat from the steam vapor and holds it in our energy storage tank. During the next batch, the stored heat helps the wort to boil very quickly, allowing us to use very little primary energy.
2. Utilized green design throughout our building.
Lighting. We take full advantage of the more than 360 days of sunshine in Fort Collins by using UV blocking windows, sun-tubes, and light shelves.
HVAC. Using evaporative coolers, we can condition our 55,000 square foot packaging hall with no compressors, using much less energy.
Materials. In our new packaging hall, the interior wood is beetle kill pine. Summit County, CO, anticipates that mountain pine beetles will kill 98% of their lodgepole pines. So, we’re giving these fallen trees another life.
3. Implemented a process for treating our wastewater: The Clean Water Act of 1973 requires business to clean their water to domestic treatment standards before discharging, but we go above and beyond to reduce the load on our municipal plant. And we get two valuable by-products from this treatment—methane and nutrient-rich sludge.
4. On-site energy production. The methane produced by process water treatment is used to fuel a combined heat and power engine—or co-gen—which creates electricity and heat for the brewery. The co-gen allows us to offset those critical—and expensive—peak loads by creating electricity on-site from a renewable source—our process wastewater. When the co-gen is running full-time, it can supply 15% of our electrical needs.
5. Wind-powered electricity since 1999. In 1999, New Belgium became the largest private consumer of wind-power electricity at that time and the first wind-powered brewery. In 1998, when we were researching ways to lower our environmental impact, Fort Collins was launching the first city-sponsored wind program in Colorado. We made a 10-year commitment to buy all of our electricity through the program, which allowed them to install an additional turbine, in Medicine Bow, WY. Since the wind premium increased our total cost per kilowatt-hour by 57%, it impacted employee’s profit sharing pool. So, we asked employees: wind-power or not? They unanimously voted for clean energy, and the decision is a fabled moment in New Belgium history.
6. Employ a High Involvement Culture. An environment in which the full power of everyone’s hearts and minds are brought to bear on creating positive change. HIC is a 3-legged stool which stands on opening the books, employee ownership, and participative decision-making.
7. Sustainable Eventing. We try to minimize the environmental impact of our events at every turn. Our philanthropic bike festival, Tour de Fat, celebrates bicycling as a viable form of alternative transport. A solar-powered stage provides sound for the day, beer is served in compostable cups and our overall waste stream diversion rate is better than 85%.
8. Actionable Advocacy. We’re members of
1% For the Planet, which means that, through donations and fund-raisers, 1% of our revenue goes to environmental non-profits.
Team Wonderbike, our bicycle commuter advocacy program, has more than 10,000 members who have pledged to offset more than eight million car miles by riding their bikes more over the next twelve months.
Public speaking/education: Because we make and sell beer, people are interested in our story. We’ve been very successful while being values-driven, and we strive to be a business role model.
To encourage sustainable transportation, every employee gets a custom cruiser bike after one-year of employment.
9. Constant benchmarking. Without data, how can you measure progress? Every company needs to figure out how to track non-financial results, to be sure that they’re not just giving lip-service to environmental goals. Our Life-cycle Accessment
10. Partnering to support innovative technology. The company Oberon has installed a small treatment plant next to our own that will use our process wastewater to harvest sludge to create a high protein fish food for aqua-farms. If successful, we can learn how to turn our waste stream (that currently becomes an amendment to compost) into an income stream and a source of global nutrition.

~ Seriously, WOW!! That is some truly green beer for you!

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