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Bell’s Brewery receives ENERGY STAR Challenge award for sustainability efforts

Bell's Microbiologist, Dr. Meg, wears a mask while harvesting yeast at Bell's Comstock Brewery.

Imagine a stretch of highway connecting Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids returned to forest. That is roughly 501 acres worth of pavement or about 380 football fields. It’s also the environmental equivalent of Bell’s Brewery’s energy efficiency improvements this year.

The energy efficiency projects executed to make this reduction possible are why Michigan’s largest independent craft brewery has been awarded the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry Certification.

Through a series of energy efficiency projects over the course of the last 2 years, we (Bell’s) reduced energy per barrel packaged of 10.35%. Bell’s shipped almost half-a-million barrels of beer in 2019. The ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry is a global call-to-action for industrial sites to reduce their energy intensity by 10 percent within 5 years

“Being good stewards of our environment has always been a priority. Sure, we save money. That’s good business. More importantly, we’re helping to secure and protect our environment for generations to come,” said Larry Bell, president and founder of Bell’s.

The three projects that yielded significant reductions were:

  • Compressed air leak detection: small holes or cracks develop over time in compressed air tubing. Using an ultrasonic device, Bell’s found and fixed worn pneumatic gaskets and tubing which saved the equivalent of 151,000 kilowatt-hours or enough electricity to power 14 homes for one year.
  • LED retrofitting: By replacing fluorescent bulbs at the brewery with LEDs, Bell’s saved the equivalent of 127,000 KWH per year or enough electricity to power 12 homes for one year.
  • Glycol heated CO2 vaporizer: two separate systems (fermentation and CO2 vaporization) were combined into one efficient system to save 190,000 KWH per year or enough electricity to power 17 homes for one year.

The brewery partnered with Consumers Energy during the last few years to make energy efficiency upgrades at its main brewery in Comstock, Mich., near Kalamazoo. “We love working with customers like Bell’s who share our vision of a cleaner energy future by reducing their carbon footprint and using energy more efficiently,” said Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president of customer experience. “Our energy efficiency programs have helped customers save over $3 billion on their bills in the last decade.”

The work at Bell’s also supports Consumers Energy’s Clean Energy Plan – a road map for protecting the environment and embracing innovative, affordable energy solutions. By 2040, Consumers plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions and meet 90 percent of Michigan’s energy needs with clean resources.

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