Breath of Clarity

Discussion Comment: New Belgium Brewing

Original post by Edward Segura:

For this discussion, I chose the New Belgium Brewing Company as my environmentally conscious organization to conduct further research on. This company’s beer movement began in Fort Collins, Colorado. The New Belgium Brewing Company is a brewery recognized as a national leader in social responsibility and sustainability across the United States. The making of beer means there is a creation of greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy use such as fossil fuels. The organization strives to reduce the impact by producing more energy onsite property. They are also continuously trying to brainstorm new methods and innovative approaches to reduce the waste they produce within their demands.

Their energy philosophy revolves around an energy pyramid that dictates and guides their overall energy within their breweries. They pyramid consists of four levels where Energy Conservation is the lowest level while Internal Energy Tax remain the highest. The other 2 levels in between are On-site Power Generation and Demand Management. For the Energy Conservation level, technology is applied to source renewable energy and reduce their dependence on natural gas and electricity. Investing in specialized equipment will allow transferring of waste energy to storage tanks and heat exchangers. These chambers serve as a way to conserve energy. This allows a reduction in energy requirements. The Demand Management level is based on implementation of the small grit technology that permits a 2-way flow of both energy and information between Belgium Brewing and their utility provider. The company can then receive notifications from their provider when they are at peak demand. The company can the choose to shutoff non-essential power loads for short time frames to reduce demands and energy costs. The On-site Power Generation level involves several generation technologies. For example, their process water treatment plant uses microbes to clean all wastewater through anaerobic and aerobic basins. Methane-rich biogas is created and utilized as power to run heat and power engines thus transforming waste into usable energy. Another type of technology used in this level is solar photovoltaics are installed and cover the roofs of their facility. The Internal Energy Tax level involves the company’s taxation on itself. This money is reserved for energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy projects that reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

Water is the main ingredient in beer products. The organization values its importance which is why they rely on a sanitary and reliable water. To promote sustainability practices, they advocate for polices and programs that will protect and improve local streams and rivers. They combine conservation actions among their corporation with strategic support to protect their waterways. The New Belgium Brewing Company are always in pursuit of waste reduction. Therefore, they practice the reduce, reuse, and recycle methods of limiting their waste production. This helps to minimize ecosystem damage from resource extraction and preserve ecosystems for future generations.

They understand the impact of high levels of carbon emissions acknowledging the evidence provided by scientists suggesting humans are the main cause of climate change. The company tracks where and how they release greenhouse gases at their breweries, in order to find opportunities to decrease emissions. By following globally accepted guidelines, the brewery company have estimates for total emissions related to the making and shipment of their beer. This information and data are set as a tool to where to focus efforts towards their impact. They follow what climate scientists state on avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. The company has modeled out a long-term carbon reduction plan that is along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations.

The organization has a Natural Resource Management Team. Every month, departmental leaders and coworkers within the production, facilities maintenance, sustainability, engineering, and public relations all come together to discuss topics regarding their natural resources. This consists of the tracking of energy use, greenhouse gases and water emissions, and figure out ways to continue following sustainable practices.

In my opinion this organization does practice a legitimate environmental friendly approach regarding its conduct of business. They have many steps and plans to promote sustainable practices to preserve natural resources. However, its is likely the company will attempt to over exaggerate some policies they follow. They are a business, and any business will want to attract the public and other organizations by their eco-friendly approach to their management of their products. It is always beneficial to have a widely accepted reputation. Overall, The New Belgium Brewing Company is an environmental conscious business compared to many other corporations in the United States.


“Craft Beer.” New Belgium Brewing. Accessed May 28, 2020. (Links to an external site.).

Editor. “10 Global Companies That Are Environmentally Friendly.” Virgin, October 7, 2019.

Comment by Steffen Williams:

I love New Belgium beer, so I am glad you chose them. It’s good to hear they have processes in place to evaluate their environmental impact and their compliance with existing environmental laws. The beer industry’s largest impact is arguably water, especially in drought prone areas where many breweries are located (California, Colorado). Because beer is 95% water, it takes an average of seven liters of water to make one liter of beer (Growler 2016). Some cities and municipalities have paced tight restrictions on brewer’s use of water, either requiring them to meet certain efficiency standards or quotas for water usage. To that end, it is great to see New Belgium already has processes in place to evaluate its water usage practices. Their goal for 2020 is to get down to a ratio of 3.5 liters of water used for every 1 liter of beer produced, well below the industry average (New Belgium 2020).


Growler. 2016. “The thirsty business of beer:How breweries are confronting the industry’s water problem.” Accessed May 29, 2020. (Links to an external site.)

New Belgium. 2020. “Good Water Means Good Beer.” Accessed May 29, 2020.

My Comment:

Edward and Steffen-

I appreciate the way you’re articulating the mentality of businesses who are meaningfully acting aligned with the ISO 14001 certification. The post said, these companies are “continuously trying to brainstorm new methods and innovative approaches to reduce the waste they produce within their demands”. A modern, key aspect of the sustainable business conversation is being creative in brainstorming ways to do things that are both environmentally sound and cheaper. Having a Natural Resources Management team devoted to doing that is brilliant. New Belgium’s tactics (investing in specialized equipment that transfers waste energy to storage tanks and heat exchangers, shutting off non-essential power loads for short time frames to reduce demands, and the on-site power generation) proves the company successfully exemplifies ISO 14001 values.

Also, thanks for bringing significant water use into focus. It’s a major issue considering the amount of water needed to produce a liter of beer. Water efficiency needs to be addressed. The attached source shows ten water reduction strategies from various breweries in section 5.1, pages 40-43. Are there particular methods that are well-structured or techniques you’re noticing can be improved?

My partner is a brewer in Santa Cruz, CA and shared insight about the topic. While the company he used to work for has been organic since 2006, it is having a lot of financial trouble partly because its qualified pool of suppliers are limited and organic is expensive. Its slogan “Think Organic. Drink Organic” is not happening within the company. To strategize organically signifies purifying the entire production process so it’s efficient and results in a quality product. The company buys minimal ingredients, often doesn’t have enough of a material in stock during a day’s brew, attempts to compromise by using ingredients not included in the recipe, or adds unbalanced ratios to the mix. The company still labels a tweaked batch the original beer’s name even though the edited sequence negatively impacts the beer’s taste, which in turn jeopardizes customer satisfaction and trust. Further, the brewery is still using outdated equipment which results in higher greenhouse gas emissions and lacking efficiency. While it’s awesome to source organic ingredients, a company needs to master using cost-effective, energy efficient mechanisms before declaring itself as organic. Its smarter to polish processes which sustainably save the company money before committing to the challenge of organic ingredient prices. To be a truly meaningful environmental steward, a company needs to focus on implementing infrastructure with significantly positive impacts on the environment so it can be fully true to its brand rather than greenwashing.

I commend New Belgium Brewing for its meaningful environmental management system. New Belgium Brewing did launch, a campaign to fund water conservation at the Colorado River. The company donated $300,000 over three years to studying and repairing the Colorado River (Brewers Association). The source I included below outlines a variety of best practices and case studies from other breweries. Before New Belgium sold its ownership to AB InBev, the company was a member of the Brewers Association because the organization was dedicated to craft brewing and not large-scale operations. The Brewers Association document is a phenomenal example for breweries aiming to earn the 14001 certification.


Brewers Association. “Water and Wastewater: Treatment/Volume Reduction Manual,” n.d. Accessed May 30 2020.