Monday, February 13, 2012

Brewery Vivant Becomes First LEED Certified Commercial Brewery in the United States

Grand Rapids, MI

Mayor George Heartwell of Grand Rapids to commemorate the event at the plaque dedication ceremony.

Brewery Vivant was awarded LEED Silver (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation for their sustainably designed microbrewery and pub located in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids. The environmentally conscious business becomes the first commercial brewery to achieve such designation which is governed by the Washington DC Based USGBC (United States Green Building Council).

Brewery Vivant owned by husband wife team Jason & Kris Spaulding, opened its bustling neighborhood pub and microbrewery just over a year ago in a historic funeral home built near the turn of the 20th century. Despite the challenges and extensive renovations needed to convert the existing building into the manufacturing and public site, the company feels great about its location.

“This project proved to be a real challenge as not only did we need to retrofit an existing building to LEED standards, but we also had to conform to Historic Preservation standards” comments Keith Winn, President of Catalyst Partners whose company managed the LEED portion of the project. Winn adds “Despite the challenge, we loved working on this project as it ended up having such a positive impact on the neighborhood. The owners made a big commitment to repurpose a building that was a vacant eyesore and transformed it into a vibrant community-gathering place.” According to a recent study by the National Trust for Historic Buildings retrofitting an existing building to make it at least 30 percent more efficient is almost always a better bet for the environment than constructing a new building.

The brewery, which specializes in Belgian and French inspired beers, has incorporated many sustainable practices into their day-to-day operations. Their company goals are not just financially motivated. “Being a sustainable company means being concerned about more than just the bottom line. When we make decisions we weigh the impacts on our community as well as the environment.” says Kris Spaulding, Sustainability Director and Co-Owner of Brewery Vivant. The company offsets 100% of their energy usage through purchasing RECs (Renewable Energy Credits). Kris adds “While the brewery does not have a turbine on the roof, we purchased RECs from Renewable Choice Energy so that all the energy the we use each year is replaced by energy produced renewably on a wind farm.”

The company distributes its beer throughout the State of Michigan and plans to enter the Chicago market this summer. However, don’t look for bottles of beer sitting on shelves, the brewery only ships its beer in aluminum cans. “After researching the full environmental impact of canning vs bottling it was an easy decision once the data was in front of us. Not only are the cans better for the environment but our beer will actually taste better out of a can as the beer is better protected from the negative effects of sunlight and oxygen.” comments Jason Spaulding Brewery Vivant President. “People also love to take our beer where bottles can’t go like camping, boating and golfing. Until recently there were almost no craft beer options.”

The LEED plaque will be dedicated by Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell at a ceremony taking place at the Brewery Vivant Pub on Feb 16 at 5:30PM. The company will debut its East Hills Organic Ale made with organic grains and 100% Michigan grown organic hops. A portion of proceeds sold this day go to benefit FRESH. Field Research in Earth Science Happenings is a summer program designed to help middle school students in the Grand Rapids Public School System gain a firm background in science and help them become comfortable in nature.


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