From small craft brewers, to large scale industrial brewing operations, brewing is energy intensive business that can yield big returns on ee investments.
A recent global survey by the Dutch Brewers Association revealed that breweries have reduced their energy usage by over 9% and water usage by over 17% over the last four years.
The Worldwide Brewery Industry Water and Energy Benchmarking Survey, conducted by Campden BRI every four years, included 225 breweries, which represented almost one third of the world’s beer production. The study provides benchmarks for brewing industry measure improvements in operations.
The study certainly seems to align with case studies cropping up around the country. Brewers are reporting striking achievements in reducing the environmental impact of their operations, achieving cost and operation savings while supporting environmental and community development goals.
- Anheuser-Busch InBev is specifically focusing on upgrading packaging line equipment and employee behavior programs. The company announced earlier this year it had met its three-year global environmental goals reducing energy by 12% and carbon emissions by 16%.
- Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery in North Woodstock, NH is making great strides in reducing energy in its brewery and brewpub. As the community’s only craft brewer and largest employer, savings achieved through efficiency investments here get generated into business development which supports employment in the small New England town.
- In May, Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) granted $100,000 for cost-effective energy investments at five Wisconsin craft breweries for efficiency and renewable investments such as boiler upgrades, and renewable energy initiatives.
The nature of the brewing industry has consistently shown to be ripe for the energy efficiency picking. Beer brewing and processing into consumable products is complex and energy intensive. The internal and external pressures on the industry to reduce costs have led to the brewery sector being progressive in terms of energy efficiency. Despite significant technological improvements over the last 20 years, energy consumption, water consumption, wastewater, by-products and emissions remain major environmental challenges in the brewing industry. While brewers have worked to reduce energy use, policy makers think there is more that can be done.
As part of the Obama administration’s Better Buildings Initiative, focus has been placed on implementing new tax incentives and financing opportunities for increasing commercial and industrial energy efficiency. The goals of the initiative include achieving a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020; reducing companies’ and business owners’ energy bills by about $40 billion per year; and saving energy by reforming outdated incentives and challenging the private sector to act
Federal and state agencies have been focusing policies and programs that increase take-up of energy efficiency measures in the commercial and industrial sector with subsidies and grants to encourage companies to update old inefficient equipment.
And for efficiency program administrators, breweries tend to tick all the incentive boxes – a mix of thermal and electrical energy consumption, high use of motors, pumps, and refrigeration equipment, and most importantly knowledgeable and eager customers. Two main areas of brewing operations where energy savings can be the most significant usually lie in operations and maintenance of brewing equipment and with building staff engagement on efficiency initiatives.
Although technological changes in equipment help to reduce energy use, changes in staff behavior and attitude also can have a great impact. Simple steps such as switching off lights or closing windows and doors, save only small amounts of energy at a time, when taken continuously over longer periods, they may have a much greater effect than more costly technological improvements. Strong energy management programs ensure employees actively contribute to energy efficiency improvements.
The commercial and industrial sector is the new key target for tackling energy efficiency measures. Incentives are abundant for this sector across the country and the diversity of breweries – not to mention the surging rate of growth in the sector- can be a a great asset for efficiency program administrators. From small to medium enterprises to large scale industrial plants, the brewing sector is full of willing and eager participants looking to slash energy use.
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