Editor's Note: 'Our Colorado' helps us all navigate the challenges related to growth while celebrating life in the state we love. To comment on this or other Our Colorado stories, email us at OurCO@TheDenverChannel.com. See more 'Our Colorado' stories here.
FORT COLLINS -- It takes a lot of energy and 24 gallons of water to make one bottle of beer, but New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins has been working since they were founded to use that energy and water responsibly.
“Our founders were great champions for the environment from day one,” says Katie Wallace, the Director of Social and Environmental Impact at New Belgium.
To keep that going, New Belgium uses things like a giant heat exchanger they affectionately call ‘Merlin.’
“Over 80 percent of the heat that we use in the process is captured and reused throughout the process,” Wallace said. “With brewing you have a lot of heat in some areas, but you need it to be cold in other areas.”
Because they don’t use any toxic elements within their brewing process, New Belgium is also able to clean their wastewater with an anaerobic digestor in process that creates methane, and their aerobic digestor produces more than 10 percent of the brewery’s electricity. That’s in addition to the solar array on the roof that powers the bottling and canning lines.
New Belgium has greatly reduced the amount of water they use every year by changing their cleaning process and reusing the same water to rinse the inside and outside of bottles.
“On the bottling line we reduced our water-based lubricants, so we save over a million gallons from going to a dryer lubricant on the conveyor belt,” Wallace adds.
Wallace says if New Belgium achieves their goals alone, they aren’t successful. She says the key is in everyone reducing their environmental imprint.
“We’re a relatively small portion of the water demand here, or the energy consumption,” she says. “There are much bigger systems we need to push forward to ultimately protect our resources.”
Katie Wallace will be speaking about New Belgium Brewing Company’s environmental initiatives at the Water in the West symposium put together by Colorado State University. Denver7 is a proud sponsor of the event.