To say craft beer has taken off in Vancouver would be a gross understatement. Craft beer in British Columbia has surged in popularity with micro-breweries, brew pubs and craft breweries popping up all over the place. The word brewing alone suggests an energy intensive process so it’s no surprise that micro-breweries require a lot of water, lighting, heat and refrigeration.
At Kambo, we consider ourselves to be craft beer enthusiasts, so in the name of research we decided to take a closer look at the energy efficiency of breweries to see if we could offer some help. We found there are a number of energy efficiency projects that breweries can complete to yield large returns on investments.
The cost of energy and utilities typically constitutes 3 to 8 percent of a brewery’s general budget, depending on brewery size and other variables. Natural gas remains the fuel of choice at 65 percent, followed by electricity at 24 percent.
To put energy efficiency into perspective, if your energy budget is $10,000 and you could save 30% through better energy practices, ask yourself: How many growlers do I have to sell to earn the $3,000 net?
Here’s what we recommend breweries focus on to reduce their energy costs:
Take care of the 'low hanging fruit'
While the brewing process can be energy intensive, it’s worthwhile to examine all aspects of operations. The low hanging fruit such as replacing light bulbs and thermostats and installing timers can also make a significant difference to the bottom line in a large facility. Occupancy sensors work well in breweries as there are a lot of low occupancy areas in the facility that only require occasional lighting.
Get creative about heat recovery
Depending on the size of the brewery a range of equipment options are available and some are eligible for FortisBC rebate incentives. We recommend looking at energy efficient equipment and ways you can recover heat waste by transferring it into other operations (such as heating water).
Mill Street brewing in Toronto is a good example of this, they installed a heat recovery system on the brewhouse’s kettle stack. Recovered energy from the brewhouse is used to heat up to15,000 litres of water to 90C per day without any additional energy input. The heated water is then used in the brewing process and for equipment cleaning.
Switch up your schedule to avoid peak demand charges
Demand charge is related to the maximum amount of power your business uses during a billing period, measured in kilowatts. Demand is what determines the total capacity required by the grid, and therefore, the electrical infrastructure for BC Hydro.
When breweries reduce their peak load by shifting some activities to low-demand periods of the day, less electrical infrastructure is needed. An example of this would be if a brewery moved cleaning and maintenance operations to the evenings, rather than running them during their main day shift when other machinery and equipment has to be in operation. Read our blog post about peak demand charges for more information.
Reduce your maintenance costs with energy monitoring
Energy monitoring can save a lot of headaches for small breweries. Energy monitoring software will allow you to pinpoint energy waste, identify saving opportunities in real-time, and reduce costs with device-level monitoring.
Energy monitoring can also set up real-time notifications for facility staff to ensure problems are caught immediately and not left unknown. Avoid unexpected failures by detecting impending problems before they occur, resulting in fewer failures and less waste. With customized reporting you can accurately report data to help comply with energy related regulations, green initiatives and industry standards.
Time your energy upgrades with food safe certification
If you are contemplating SQF or ISO certification, then your facility will most likely need to undergo a lighting retrofit to meet the requirements for a shatterproof environment. It makes financial sense to consider upgrading to more efficient technology during this time which will make the project pay for itself with energy savings. A retrofit is also a great opportunity to improve light levels to specific standards based on the type of work conducted in the area. This not only serves to meet the standard but improvers working accuracy and speed. It is important to slightly overestimate light levels when designing a lighting layout to account for light deprecation, especially when considering LED, which can last a very long time.