new belgian brewery: eco process: sustainable business
The New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins Colorado was the first brewery in the U.S. to be powered entirely by wind in 1998. It now meets all of its own energy needs through a combination of wind power purchased from the city and thermal energy from the brewing process. A $5 million system collects methane from the brewing wastewater and uses it to fire a 290-kilowatt electric generator. Their generator supplies up to 60 percent of the brewery's power. New Belgium saves $2,500 to $3,000 a month by creating its own electricity. Brewing uses a tons of water, an average of eight barrels of water to produce a single barrel of beer but with recapture and reuse, Belgium has cut its water use in half. Induction fans pull in cold exterior air to chill the beer in winter, reducing the need for refrigeration-30 percent of a brewery's electric use. New Belgium recycles or reuses 98 percent of its waste stream-converting spent grain into cattle feed, etc. Hybrids or high-mileage diesels are used for company business. Before going commercial with their venture in 1991, Kim Jordan and her husband Jeff Lebesch set a few ground rules: make great beer, have fun, promote beer culture, be kind to the environment. Now New Belgium Brewery is the third-largest American craft beer maker (after Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams), has 260 employees, and boasts annual revenue of $70 million. Each employee gets a cruiser bike on his or her first anniversary, 40 percent of the company's staff pedals to work in summer. Their "Tour de Fat" event promotes green issues and raises money for local nonprofits. Bottoms up!