AT A GLANCE
The photos below offer a snapshot of sustainability at Bell's.
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The art of brewing is an age-old tradition that represents humans’ deep relationship with the natural environment. From the cultivation of grain and hops to fermentation, it is abundantly clear that the health of our natural environment heavily influences the craft quality of our beer.
When most people think of the word “sustainability”, they think of “green” or “environmentally-friendly.” Though these associations are helpful, they do not always tell the whole story.
We view sustainability as the capacity for our business to thrive in future generations through the practices of environmental stewardship, economic robustness and social integrity.
Sustainability is about more than caring about the Earth. It is awareness of how an individual or organization impacts their surroundings over the long-term. It is the idea that if we are aware of how we impact our surroundings, we can act in ways that provide for economic, environmental, and social benefits to ourselves (and our children) in the future.
Bell’s is consistently trying to act in ways that increase and preserve natural resources. Here are some examples:
• Our farm in Shepherd, Michigan uses no-till farming practices that support surrounding ecosystems by minimizing erosion and the use of water-contaminating fertilizers, while improving soil quality. Barley grown at our farm is used for Bell's seasonal Christmas Ale and Harvest Ale along with our year round Midwestern Pale Ale. More information on the Bell's Farm can be found here.
• An estimated 87-percent company-wide trash diversion rate saves thousands of pounds annually from incineration or a landfill.
• Garbage collection has been reduced at the brewery from three pick-ups per week to one as a result of our recycling efforts.
• A modular, extensive sedum green roof (shown at the top of this page) above our conditioning warehouse increases insulation efficiency and extends the life of a waterproofing membrane.
• Our production facility roof also has a light colored exterior membrane to decrease the amount of heat radiation and the need for heating, venting and air conditioning.
• Our brewing processes produce approximately 50,000 pounds of spent grain daily. A local farmer picks this up twice a day and uses it to feed his dairy cows.
• With the Adopt a Highway program, employees of Bell’s Brewery pick up roughly 50-60 bags of trash along M-96 three times a year. To date, our employees have picked up about 759 bags since Bell’s started sponsoring this program in Comstock, Michigan.
• We have partnered with nearby Avalon Farms to provide employees the opportunity to participate in their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Avalon farms is a Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program certified operation located 10 miles away in Climax. The partnership allows us to support a local business and environmentally responsible agriculture while providing fresh produce with minimal food miles (thereby reducing the emissions of Green house gas associated with its transport).
• The kitchen staff at the Eccentric Café meticulously separates all compostable scraps from food preparation. We turn those onion ends and carrot peals into high quality compost with the help of our friends at Common Ground Community Gardens, sawdust from the same craftsman who built our back bar, and a whole bunch of red worms (OK, the worms do the real work). The compost is then used at the community garden and our beer garden, averting the need for chemical fertilizers and in 2013 diverting over two tons of waste from landfills.
• High efficiency lighting includes reflective light tubes, located throughout our buildings, that allow for daylight harvesting with occupancy controls.
• Outside air is used to condition our cold storage warehouse during colder months, reducing the need for electricity and refrigeration.
• Our kettle stack condenser reclaims 10.6 million BTUs a day, which is equivalent to three hot tub heaters running at full capacity for 24 hours.
• Our wort heat exchanger not only cools our wort enough so yeast can thrive to ferment healthy beer, it also pre-heats carbon filtered water that will go into subsequent batches. This process reclaims 17 million BTUs a day, enough energy to heat 219,000 cups of tea.
• A 16-ton closed loop geothermal field provides heat for our corporate office building just down the street from our Comstock Brewery.
• We monitor and evaluate the amount of electricity and natural gas used within our production process with the overall goal of reducing and eliminating waste.
• We recycle all cardboard, paper, stretch wrap, green plastic banding, keg caps, wood, electronics, batteries, copper, stainless steel and black iron from our production process.
• Our production facility landfill diversion rate is 93-percent. For comparison, prior to 2008, 50-percent of our waste went to a landfill.
• We consistently monitor water use with the goal of decreasing water intensity. Sub-meters track water use in the brewhouse, cellar and on both the bottling and kegging lines. Engineering and procedural changes have also helped reduce water usage.
• Our Cellar C.I.P. (Clean-in-Place) system has reduced the amount of water to clean our tanks by about 65-percent over the previous procedure.
• A new Filler Vacuum Pump design reduced water that goes to drain from 15 gallons per minute to 2 gpm, saving about 20 million pints of water annually on our filling operation.
We are always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Our new brewhouse continues and expands upon Bell's commitment to sustainability. Below are a few examples.
• Heat recycling: A new energy storage system stores 3.3 million BTUs. The energy saved in this closed loop system will equal about 70 gas burners at full power for an hour, based on the energy consumption of your average home grill, per 90-minute brewing cycle.
• An 85-ton geothermal field (shown at right), roughly the size of half a football field, controls the temperature for the entire building using glycol filled tubes to exchange heat eight feet underground.
• A 94-percent overall efficient water heater has been installed.
• Five “Big Ass Fans” reduce the need for air conditioning and heating at our production facility and also at our Logistics Center.
• Energy efficient LED lighting is used in all exterior areas including the parking lot as well as in our hop cooler.
• 25 variable frequency drives increase the overall efficiency control speed used for pumps in the brewhouse.
• A 400 horsepower process boiler with an 84-percent overall efficiency rating allows us to conserve and recycle energy for steam production. Steam is used for all process heating, mashing, boiling, keg cleaning and sterilization & more.