Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sustainable Brewing Born on a Bike!

When we arrived at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO and saw the shiny Airstream sitting in the parking lot, we knew we were in the right place! The Brewery is as well known for its sustainable business practices and advocacy as it is for its delightful beer. Despite the fact that we showed up unannounced, we were warmly greeted by Jennifer Orgolini, the “Sustainability Steward” at the brewery and given a quick tour and overview of their sustainability initiatives. The passion for the company’s efforts is apparent at every level, from the gentleman that greeted us at the door and pointed us in Jennifer’s direction, to the wonderful folks in the tasting room who spread the word around the brewery about the “cool Eco-Airstream” that was parked out in the lot.

This is a company that has a clear vision about their efforts to reduce their impact on the environment. Guided by the vision of their founder, they have set clearly defined goals and benchmarks for their sustainability programs, and understand that it is a journey not a destination. Their corporate culture helps its employees understand and wrap their arms around their vision. The company is a shining example of making a real effort, providing transparency on what they do, and looking toward the future. I urge you to visit their website ( what I consider to be one of the most well thought out Sustainability Statements that I have ever seen. Here are some of the highlights that we found on their site.

It begins with a clear mission statement that defines their sustainable business philosophy:

We believe, to be environmental stewards, we need to:

• Lovingly care for the planet that sustains us.
• Honor natural resources by closing the loops between waste and input.
• Minimize the environmental impact of shipping our beer.
• Reduce our dependence on coal-fired electricity.
• Protect our precious Rocky Mountain water resources.
• Focus our efforts on conservation and efficiency.
• Support innovative technology.
• Model joyful environmentalism through our commitment to relationships, continuous improvement, and the camaraderie and cheer of beer

It then outlines the achievements they have made so far.

• Increased efficiencies in the brewing process
• Utilized green design throughout our building
• On-site energy production
• Wind-powered electricity since 1999
• Employ a High Involvement Culture
• Sustainable Eventing
• Actionable Advocacy
• Constant benchmarking
• Partnering to support innovative technology

And finally they define clear goals for the future.

Below are the lofty goals we've set as we continue to learn and grow:
• To reduce our carbon footprint by 25%*
• To reduce our water usage by 10%
• To increase our landfill diversion rate from 89.5% to 95% (note: brewing by-products like spent grain and yeast are NOT included in these figures. If they were included, it would be 99%).

If your company is interested in reducing your carbon footprint, reducing waste, reducing water usage, and creating social responsibility programs within your company, New Belgium Brewing is a shining example of how it can be done. And I love their beer!

Before we left the tasting room for the next leg of our journey, the wonderful folks who were serving that day hooked us up with a couple of hemp T-shirts, and a six-pack containing one of each of their beers. As I sat around the campfire that evening I remembered our visit fondly with each sip!

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading all of your previous entries as well as those to come. It was wonderful to meet you both, as well as Doris Mae. Thanks so much for all the tips and the instant Airstream kinship. I blogged about you guys today, and hope you'll check it out! Take care and good luck with the tour. -Andrea & Art