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Study Explores Energy Efficiency Among Buncombe County Breweries - RSVP for Reception Now!

Buncombe County has partnered with other organizations in the region in a study that looks at energy efficiency among one of the area’s most notable industries.

The Asheville-Buncombe Sustainable Microbrewery Initiative provides valuable findings regarding the local brewery industry and how beer-making operations can be made more energy-efficient.

This initiative, a project of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Advance Program, is a collaboration between the Asheville-Buncombe Air Quality Agency, UNC Asheville, Land of Sky Waste Reduction Partners, EPA Region 4, and four local microbreweries: Cellarest Beer Project, Hi-Wire Brewing, River Arts District Brewing, and Wicked Weed Brewing. The Advance Program supports states, tribes, and local governments that want to take proactive steps to keep their air clean by promoting local actions to reduce air pollution.

The research project was led by Ava Ingle, an Environmental Studies student at UNC Asheville, who used the Energy Star checklist from the EPA to analyze the potential impact that energy efficiency improvements would bring to craft breweries.

After evaluating the historical energy consumption of these breweries and determining energy efficiency opportunities, the study found that the most potential savings were in refrigeration and steam generation systems. The study found that reducing energy consumption can result in reduced fossil fuel emissions as well as potential energy bill savings for breweries.

With these energy-efficiency suggestions, 309,336 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided each year and the breweries could save a combined $25,827 in utility costs a year.

Potential savings highlighted in the study for each brewery per year on average include:

  • 69,084 kWh of electricity
  • 5,248 Therms of natural gas

This study, and the voluntary participation of these four breweries, show a commitment to sustainability in the region. While breweries in the region are important to the region’s economy, they potentially employ energy-intensive processes that require high fossil fuel consumption.

“Discovering energy efficiency opportunities within Asheville’s craft brewing industry allowed the determination of potential environmental and economic impacts of energy efficiency improvements made within a brewery,” the study stated.

In the future, it is recommended that breweries continue to identify opportunities to save energy as part of a constant improvement mindset and that other breweries that want to prioritize energy efficiency use the Energy Star Treasure Hunt tool and consider taking the Energy Star Challenge by pledging to reduce their energy intensity by 10% within 5 years. Companies that meet the goal can submit data and receive additional recognition from the US EPA.

Asheville-Buncombe Air Quality Agency and partners would like to thank the four breweries for their participation and commitment and encourage other breweries to look at their operations to find changes they can make to be more energy-efficient. UNC Asheville and Asheville-Buncombe Air Quality Agency are interested in continuing this work advancing sustainable breweries as part of an annual summer internship.

A reception to recognize the four participating breweries will be held on May 21 at 6 p.m. during Asheville Beer Week, with support from the Asheville Brewers Alliance, Big Mountain Impact, Blue Horizons Project, Duke Energy, Sugar Hollow Solar, and Wicked Weed Brewing.

This is a free event, and all are welcome. Please RSVP here by May 12 to attend and receive a free drink ticket and hors d’oeuvres.

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Updated May 10, 2024 03:50 PM
Published May 07, 2024 03:00 PM