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Review: Sustainable Craft Brewery Workshop, Portland

March 28, 2014

photo 1 (1)Last week, we hosted our second Sustainable Craft Brewery workshop at Widmer Brothers Brewery in Portland, OR. Presenters described a number of opportunities that breweries could leverage to reap rewards of cost-effective technical assistance (often free!) and other emerging solutions to brewery-specific problems.

For those who missed the event, or want a second look, here are the presentations:

And here are some briefs about each talk:

Mitchell Frister, of EcoBiz / PPRC, presented some of PPRC’s assistance to breweries in Oregon (Fort George Brewery) and Alaska (Midnight Sun Brewing, Denali Brewing, and Seward Brewing). In Fort George, for example, PPRC conducted an Infrared Camera assessment to spot opportunities to better insulate boilers and pipes. Frister also reminded attendees to look out for PPRC’s upcoming “Topic Hub” on Breweries and Wineries, which which will detail sustainability issues and opportunities for these burgeoning Northwest sectors.

Joe Junker, of the Oregon State University Energy Efficiency Center (EEC), presented a number of assessment programs available to breweries in Oregon and Washington. The Energy Efficiency Center helps students apply their engineering training to help businesses assess opportunities to reduce energy use. Junker also explained how the EEC’s Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) provides free assessments of energy, waste, and productivity for small and medium sized businesses.

Julia Person, of Craft Brew Alliance, shared some of the ways CBA breweries are improving operating efficiency by getting detailed measurements of energy use. Person showcased the technical assistance provided by the Energy Trust of Oregon, which helped CBA’s Portland brewery to significantly reduce the energy used in cooling and lighting. Person also reviewed some of CBA’s local sustainability partners, such as the Pacific Power Blue Sky Program, which allows one hundred percent of the energy used to run Widmer’s Brewery and Pub to be sourced from wind power.

Josh Weissert of the Energy Trust of Oregon usefully dissected energy use in beer production. On average, considering typical energy sources in the Pacific Northwest, one barrel of beer takes 29.3 pounds of CO2 to produce. Breweries use about 70% thermal (vs. electrical) energy, but this energy represents only 30% of their energy costs. The Energy Trust specializes in identifying cost-effective energy efficiency measures. Weissert detailed some of the impressive incentives available to breweries considering energy efficiency projects and installing renewables. There’s a misconception in Oregon that solar doesn’t perform in the state, says Weissert. It does! And many affordable financing options exist.

Finally, Andy Sloop, of the Oregon Recycling Markets Development Corporation (ORMDC), presented a possible study to determine the potential of a refillable glass bottle system for Oregon breweries. Sloop explained how a refillable bottle system could potentially save breweries money and improve the sustainability of the industry as a whole. He then facilitated a discussion amongst attending brewers to flesh out such a project’s benefits, concerns, and roadblocks.

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