This week, Food Engineering Magazine held its inaugural Sustainable Plant of the Year Awards and Sierra Nevada took home top honors.
Here is why they won (according to the FEM article):
"To reduce energy, heat recovery equipment has been installed to capture excess heat from boilers, fuel cells and kettles. Energy-efficient controlled lighting is used throughout, and electronics and equipment were chosen to minimize the use of energy. Monitoring equipment keeps track of the process and facility energy expenditures, and employees were trained to save energy.
The facility has its own co-generation fuel cells, which generate up to 1.2 MW, and they can be powered by either natural gas or biogas byproducts captured from the brewing process. Waste heat is converted to steam for maintaining brewing temperatures. Food-grade carbon dioxide, recovered from the brewing process, is used for carbonation in bottling, keg pressurization and counter-pressure in holding tanks and provides all of the CO2 the plant requires.
Measures to conserve water—critical in California—include automated CIP systems, efficient cleaning and rinsing systems, scheduling, internal flow meters, hose bib retrofits and education. All these efforts and more keep water usage to about 290,000 gallons per day.
An on-site wastewater treatment plant processes all brewery water, has a two-stage aerobic and anaerobic capability and produces biogas for heating and electricity generation. The brewery is a firm believer of intermodal transport, with rail doing the long trips. In 2008, SNBC diverted 68,000 tons from landfill and avoided $4.5 million in waste hauler charges. Just about everything imaginable at the plant is recycled—from spent grains and yeast to cans, bottles, packaging material, batteries, compost and construction debris."
Whew, that's a lot of reading. You may also recall that Sierra Nevada has a contract with the folks at E-Fuel Micro Fueler. EFMC is the company that makes fuel from beer and is partially owned by Shaq. It's safe to say that Sierra Nevada is one of the greenest brewers out there and other brewers should take notice and follow suit.