An employee-owned craft brewery has met its voluntary energy efficiency commitment.

Last year, New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo., pledged to improve the energy efficiency of its manufacturing facilities through participation in the Colorado Industrial Challenge, a program co-sponsored by the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office and the U.S. Department of Energy.

As part of the challenge, the brewery receives technical assistance from Colorado State University’s Industrial Assessment Center in Fort Collins, Colo., and the ETC Group, an environmental engineering firm, to continue the energy efficiency efforts the company already has underway through the use of its Sustainability Management System. This is a system that requires the company to establish its current environmental impact, set specific targets for improvement, make plans to achieve those targets, and keep the plan/do/check/act cycle rolling. As a company founded with sustainability in mind, New Belgium had already taken strides to reduce its energy intensity and carbon footprint. In one year, the company’s employees unanimously voted to forgo holiday bonuses and instead invest the money in wind-powered energy.

Some of the company’s efforts to reduce energy use involves increased efficiencies in the brewing process and onsite energy production. New Belgium’s brew kettle was only the second of its kind installed in North America and is considered more efficient than standard brew kettles because it heats thin sheets of wort – the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer – rather than the whole kettle at once. Additionally, the brewery uses the methane produced by process water treatment to fuel a combined heat and power engine – or co-gen – to create electricity and heat for the plant.

For more information about New Belgium’s environmental stewardship, visit the company’s web page at http://www.newbelgium.com/culture/alternatively_empowered.aspx

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