World’s First Large-Scale Carbon-Neutral Brewery Now in Operation
Heinekens are now brewed with clean energy. The global beer company's Göss Brewery in Austria is the first carbon-neutral brewery of its scale in the world.
The facility, which kicked off its green upgrades back in 2003, has now met 100 percent of its energy needs via clean power sources including hydropower, solar thermal energy from a 1,500-square-meter photovoltaic array and biomass district heating, in which 40 percent of the brewery’s heat requirements comes from surplus heat discharged from a neighboring sawmill.
The site is also incredibly savvy with waste. It hosts its own grain fermentation plant that converts production waste into biogas—the first plant of its kind a major brewery. The grain fermentation plant converts 18,000 tons of the brewer’s grains, filter residues and other byproducts from beer-making process into biogas annually. Residues from the fermentation plant are used as fertilizer.
- Ninety percent of the waste heat generated in the brewing process is used to heat water
- A new type of boiling system is used during the brewing process, which helps to save electricity and water
- Energy generated from brewery residues will be used to generate steam and any excess volumes will be converted into electric current
- 100 percent of raw materials used at the Göss Brewery come from Austria
As Inhabitat reported, the brewery's operations will cut carbon emissions from approximately 3,000 tonnes a year to zero.
“Through a combination of innovative technology, creative thinking and partnerships with our local community, we have turned a heritage brewery into the world’s first major zero carbon brewery,” Göss brew master Andreas Werner told the publication.
“Our Göss brewery may be in a small town but our goal was to make a big impact. I am proud of what we have achieved for the Heineken Company and want to help our other breweries, and the wider brewing industry, make renewable energy part of their energy mix, just as we have done.”
The Göss Brewery's zero carbon status is only one example of Heineken's overall environmental goals. According to a blog post from Michael Dickstein, Heineken's global director of sustainable development, the beer-maker is now the world’s largest user of solar energy in beer production.
The company's Brewed by the Sun campaign boasts a number of solar achievements including:
- 100,000 glasses of Wieckse beer brewed through solar energy at the Den Bosch brewery in the south of the Netherlands
- Birra Morretti Baffo d’Oro is brewed with 100 percent Italian malted barley and 100 percent Italian sun
- The company's rooftop solar installation in Singapore, which brews the local Tiger beer, is the size of three football pitches
Heineken, the world’s third-largest brewer, is aiming to slash 40 percent of carbon emissions from global productions by 2020 through its Brewing a Better Future strategy.
Warmer temperatures and extreme weather events are harming the production of hops, a critical ingredient of beer that grows primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Rising demand and lower yields have driven the price of hops up by more than 250 percent over the past decade. Clean water resources, another key ingredient, are also becoming scarcer in the West as a result of climate-related droughts and reduced snow pack.
Several U.S. breweries have integrated sustainability into their business practices such as investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste recapture and sustainable sourcing in order to reduce their environmental footprint.
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One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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