A Pint a Day, Keeps the Pollution Away?
What’s a green brewery and why are they suddenly popping up?
With a recent movement towards sustainability and hype about craft breweries creeping up in Virginia, there comes the desire to marry these two subjects, creating the concept of a green brewery.
Green breweries are earmarked by sustainable business models, certified B corps, LEED certifications, innovative practices, renewable energy sources, and by strategically executed site design.
Craft breweries all around the country are turning to sustainable site design and creating a space that is not only accommodating of their visitors, but also of the environment.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, VA was the state’s first ever brewery that is fueled entirely by renewable energy. They utilize solar energy, biomass, and wind power to run both of their locations. All the packaging utilized for their products are made from recycled materials and they aim to use 100% locally grown Virginian ingredients. They also donate a hefty chunk of money to the James River Association to give back to the environment that built the city.
New Belgium Brewing, well-known for Fat Tire Ale, has produced the first beer in America that was ever certified carbon neutral. Sierra Nevada, a North Carolinian brewery, was the first production brewery to become LEED Platinum certified, which is the highest level of sustainable certification available. While these are huge accomplishments on the sustainability front, there are still small steps that breweries can take to achieve better sustainable practices.
Breweries can meet mitigate many problems and achieve better site sustainability even just in the site selection process. By avoiding greenfields and by developing previously utilized brownfields, after a cleanup process, breweries can reduce the environmental stress of developing an undeveloped property. Brownfields can also have some strain on the environment that will only worsen as people do not clean up the space, so by redeveloping these areas there is an aspect of renewing the land back to its former glory. Breweries can also choose to provide buffers for bodies of water by having undisturbed areas from 50’ to 100’ or more. This level of site sustainability can continue into the building layout process by orienting it properly to save up to 25% of energy. A properly laid-out building also uses stormwater management techniques like raingardens/bioretention ponds, wetlands, grass swales/infiltration trenches, pervious surfaces, and green roofs.
WPL has cleaned up multiple brownfields in the Virginia Beach area and turned them into sustainable havens. Places such as Plum Point Park in Norfolk have been turned from old spoils sites into gorgeous parks that work to mitigate and restore the wetlands around them as well as enhancing environmental stewardship. The famous Mt. Trashmore is situated on a Virginia Beach landfill (on top of 640,000 tons of garbage) and at the base of it sits the Kid’s Cove Playground. WPL’s landscape architects worked to design a playground that was functional, sustainable, and overall, just fun. By promoting land-use plans that coincide with the land we already have, we can design spaces to be proud of.
The landscape architecture and design aspect can help to create a cohesive space for the people and the earth. The sooner landscape architecture is considered, the more sustainable the building can be. This can manifest itself in site rain gardens, placing buildings where they will get shade in the summer and sunlight in the winter, limiting potable water use only to the natural habitat, catching rainwater and recycling greywater, and by designing landscape areas that will naturally clean stormwater.
Businesses all around the country are realizing the err of their ways and are working towards creating a sustainable environment, but at the forefront of this movement are the artisans from craft breweries. These artisans and breweries are paving the way (pervious pavement of course) for a better world, so you can down a pint, or two without feeling bad about it.