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5 Of The Most Sustainable Breweries In The U.S.

Craft beer continues to drive the beer industry in new and exciting directions. The Brewers Association recorded 5,005 breweries in the U.S. last year — 99% of them smaller breweries. The market share of craft breweries grew 8% in 2016 and craft beer exports rose 16%.

Craft breweries are leading the charge for sustainable energy and building practices in the industry. More breweries are reducing carbon footprints, energy and water usage. Here are five breweries leading the charge.

1. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewing

The makers of the popular Fat Tire Ale have walked the walk when it comes to sustainability and energy efficiency from the first batch of beer they brewed.

New Belgium is a Platinum Zero Waste Business that diverts 99.9% of the waste from its brewing operations from landfills and repurposes it for other uses. New Belgium is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 25% and reducing water usage to a brewery goal of 3.5 gallons of water to brew one gallon of beer by 2020. It currently uses four gallons of water to brew a gallon of beer. This poses a challenge because New Belgium is committed to dry-hopping its beers, a process that gives beer its aroma but leads to more water usage.

2. Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Brewery Vivant

Brewery Vivant made history by receiving the first LEED certification for a production brewery in the U.S. when it achieved LEED Silver in 2012. Brewery Vivant boasts a 3:1 water-to-beer ratio, sources 90% of its brewing materials within a 250-mile radius of the brewery, has diverted 100% of its waste from landfills and packages its beers in cans made from recycled aluminum.

Brewery Vivant's buildings were retrofitted with low-flow plumbing and high-efficiency HVAC systems that resulted in a 7% energy savings, and the company uses rainwater to irrigate the brewery's landscaping and reduce pressure on Grand Rapids' water treatment system.

3. Brooklyn Brewing, Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Brewing

Brooklyn Brewery consistently updates the control systems in its brewhouses in Williamsburg and Utica, New York, to monitor energy usage. It has installed steam reclamation systems and high-efficiency boilers, upgraded pipe insulation to reduce energy waste, switched to LED lighting in its packaging facilities, recycles spent grain and added an anaerobic digester at its Uitca brewery to turn wastewater into methane gas for on-site energy production.

4. Full Sail Brewing, Hood River, Oregon

Full Sail Brewing

Full Sail's commitment to sustainability started with rehabbing the old buildings that house its operations, and it modified the brewhouse for energy-efficient use. Along the Columbia River, Full Sail is cognizant of water usage and has reduced its water-to-beer ratio to 2.5:1. Full Sail donates all of its spent grain to local farms, which use the grain as feed for livestock and for baking purposes.

5. Bison Brewing, Berkeley, California

Bison Brewing

The organic Bison Brewing became the first B Corp certified brewery in 2009. B Corp certification is a standard by which for-profit companies meet the highest standards of environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

Bison sources 75% of its packaging materials from recycled materials, soy-based inks and FSC certified paper. Bison keeps its carbon footprint low by powering its brewery with an electric grid consisting of 44% solar/wind energy and 36% hydroelectricity.