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Brewery Vivant Interview | Sustainability and Future Goals

Brewery Vivant Interview | Sustainability and Future Goals
Brian Phipps

During a year in which COVID-19 continues to affect all aspects of life, how are breweries sustainability goals progressing? To answer this question, I recently interviewed several sustainability leaders in the craft brewing industry. Over the next few weeks, I will share these conversations. My first interview is with Kris Spaulding, Owner and President of Brewery Vivant, which is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Spaulding shared about the brewery’s progress over 2021 and what they hope to accomplish in 2022.

Background

Kris Spaulding and her husband, Jason Spaulding, launched Brewery Vivant in 2010. Before starting Brewery Vivant, Kris Spaulding worked in the sustainability unit of the furniture company Herman Miller. Within two years of starting the brewery, Brewery Vivant’s facility became the first US microbrewery to be awarded Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in 2012. LEED certification is a global rating system of environmentally responsible buildings conducted by the United States Green Building Council. In addition, each March 17, Brewery Vivant releases its version of “green beer,” a sustainability report called Beer The Change.

Photo courtesy of Brewery Vivant

Furthermore, Brewery Vivant is also a certified B Corporation. This certification is a measurement of a business’s environmental and social performance. In 2021, Brewery Vivant’s philanthropic efforts produced four beers for different charities in the community. On December 20, Brewery Vivant celebrated its 11th Anniversary and donated sales from that day to the Grand Rapids Public Schools Foundation and AYA Youth Collective.

A picture of all the fundraiser beers put on by Brewery Vivant in 2021.
Photo courtesy of Brewery Vivant.

Interview with Brewery Vivant Owner & President, Kris Spaulding

In regards to environmental responsibility, what are your proudest accomplishments of 2021 at Brewery Vivant?

I’m most proud that we haven’t loosened up any of our programs during the pandemic. We continue to sort our waste and recycle or compost the majority of it. Our to-go containers are either recyclable or compostable. We are always watching our utility usage to identify potential issues, which is well worth the time when we see something spike. As an example, by monitoring our usage, we noticed our CO2 numbers went way up in one month which alerted us that we had a leak.

For the craft brewery industry as a whole, what progress in sustainability did you see in 2021? What are the biggest sustainability challenges you see moving forward?

I’ve noticed an increasing number of breweries are talking about their commitment to sustainability, which is great to see. I have a Google Alert on that topic and there seem to be many more articles lately than in the past. There have been cool partnerships with local, regional and national organizations to bring awareness to everything from clean water to social issues which is great since consumer goods have a platform that many nonprofits don’t.

Did you see any initiatives or actions taken by other craft beer businesses in 2021 that you admire?

I LOVED the carbon footprint calculator that New Belgium came out with via their website, https://www.drinksustainably.com/. We have been calculating ours since we opened, but not many small craft breweries have access to the tools needed to do that type of analysis. Awareness is the first step in understanding what your biggest opportunities are to make changes.

What are Brewery Vivant’s sustainability goals for 2022?

We are continuing to work on our existing goals around our utility usage, carbon footprint, local spending, local sourcing and our community partnerships. In March, when we launch our annual sustainability report, we will announce that we are adding goals around our DEIJA (diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, access) work as well as goals focused on our advocacy for issues we feel passionate about.

What can craft beer fans do in 2022 to support Brewery Vivant in achieving its goals?

I always appreciate when people reach out and ask questions about what we are and aren’t doing and push us to do better. As a certified B Corporation, I want us to always be improving and growing as it relates to our focus on sustainability. Outside of that, the best support any fan of our place (or any other breweries!) is to ask for our product in their favorite stores and tell their friends about our values and our product. Financial sustainability is a key factor in achieving our environmental and social sustainability efforts.


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