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Breweries Nationwide Embrace Sustainability

Switchback Brewery brings in daylight with tubular daylighting devices.
Switchback Brewery brings in daylight with tubular daylighting devices.
Solatube International

Daylighting with Tubular Daylighting Devices Help Provide “GreenBeer

When Smuttynose Brewing Co. in Portsmouth, N. H., decided to build its “Dream House,” a new facility to house its brewing operations, the company committed to pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification.

The new facility is under construction on the 14-acre Towle Farm in Hampton, N. H., and incorporates energy efficient elements throughout the building, including LED lighting, automated interior light settings and daylighting through tubular daylighting devices. According to the company’s blog on the new facility, energy efficiency was a top priority in its design.

In a blog post, President Peter Egelston said, “We can design amazing efficiency into a new facility by taking advantage of simple synergies between the different parts of our process and the structure itself. “Waste” heat is no longer a waste product, but a way of preheating our brewing water. Interior spaces that need to be cooled can be done naturally in the wintertime. Daylight can be brought into interior spaces, reducing the need for electric lighting. Simple stuff, but difficult to implement in an existing facility, especially one where the landlord has no incentive or desire to participate.

Much ink has been spilled about our efforts to build a “green” facility and seek LEED certification. Frankly, the direction we’re taking is one we embarked on some time ago. Most of the choices we’re making are driven by common sense and a desire to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Plus, in addition to reducing our footprint, we stand to save a good deal money operating our new brewery, which will help us become more competitive.”

For daylighting interior spaces, Smuttynose turned to Solatube International for its tubular daylighting devices, which flood the building with natural light and reduce its lighting energy costs.

New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colo., is so committed to its sustainability efforts it has an entire area dedicated to it on its site: Some of the elements of sustainability incorporated in the company’s building design include:
• Natural lighting in almost every room, which mitigates glares and unwanted heat gains. Bringing in the natural light serves all three aspects of a healthy triple bottom line: planet (save emissions from electricity), people (better morale with natural light) and profit (upfront costs are low and lighting energy costs are reduced). Solatube Daylighting Systems help provide much of the natural light.
• Bike parking and showers (for bike commuters).
• Landscaping with low-water plants.
• Using reclaimed materials for furniture and window sills.
• Interface carpet tiles where carpet is needed.
• A porous asphalt sidewalk.
• Bioswales that naturally filter/cleanse storm water runoff before it enters rivers and streams.

Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Mich., also invests in sustainability with programs ranging from an 87 percent companywide trash diversion program and a modular extensive sedum green roof to tubular daylighting devices from Solatube International with occupancy sensors throughout its building.

Additionally, Bell’s is doing the following to reduce its impact on the environment:
• Daily brewing processes produce approximately 50,000 pounds of spent grain. A local farmer picks this up twice a day and uses it to feed his dairy cows.
• Outside air is used to condition the cold storage warehouse during colder months, reducing the need for electricity and refrigeration.
• A kettle stack condenser reclaims 10.6 million BTUs a day, which is equivalent to three hot tub heaters running at full capacity for 24 hours.
• A wort heat exchanger that not only cools our wort enough so yeast can thrive to ferment healthy beer, it also pre-heats carbon filtered water that will go into subsequent batches. This process reclaims 17 million BTUs a day, enough energy to heat 219,000 cups of tea.
• A 16-ton closed loop geothermal field provides heat for the corporate office building just down the street from the company’s Comstock Brewery.
• The amount of electricity and natural gas used in the production process is regularly monitored and evaluated with the overall goal of reducing and eliminating waste.

Additional breweries embracing sustainability include Switchback Brewing Co., O’Dell Brewing Co. and Upper Hand Brewery.

The Brewers Association provides a toolkit to help breweries of all sizes pursue sustainability: According to the association, brewers that adopt a sustainability mindset will benefit by:
• Understanding and controlling many of the costs associated with brewing your brands
• Selling your beer by connecting with your brand fan base
• Leaving more resources for your next brew

Solatube Daylighting Systems are available through factory-trained Solatube Commercial Distributors. For more information, please visit

About Solatube International
Solatube International, Inc., widely recognized as the daylighting industry innovator, has earned worldwide acclaim for its unrivaled ability to transform interior spaces with natural light. Based in California, the company is the leading manufacturer and marketer of tubular daylighting devices (TDDs) for all types of residential and commercial applications, and it continues to innovate with groundbreaking products that increase energy efficiency and light output, such as the award-winning Smart LED System and the high output SkyVault Series. For more information about the company and its related products, visit or call 888-SOLATUBE.

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