Our Carbon-Neutral Brewery: Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

GM's Blog #4

  • January 5th, 2017
  • By Grant Sparling

Our Cowbell team is fortunate to build a beautiful, unique, destination craft brewery from the ground up - tailoring the space to our vision and our values. This opportunity allows us to incorporate a variety of energy-efficient technologies. When combined into a single structure, these technologies dramatically decrease our energy consumption and subsequently, our environmental impact. These considerations, in conjunction with our state-of-the-art brewhouse, cellar, and packaging systems, will allow Cowbell to achieve carbon neutrality.

What Does it Take to Build a Carbon Neutral Brewery?

Building Orientation – The team at Allan Avis Architects used Revit Architecture to model our brewery in relation to the daily movement of the sun. Through this program, the team was able to identify the orientation that would provide the most heat gain in the winter months and the least heat gain in the summer months, thus reducing the heating and air conditioning requirements throughout the seasons. Allan Avis Architects also used this software to analyze window locations and overhangs to determine optimal size and position that maximize natural light and minimize heat gain in the summer.

Living Roof – Often seen on city rooftops, a living roof provides green space to trap heat and moisture. This reduces the amount of solar radiation that is bounced back into the atmosphere.

Cupolas – Our brewery will feature four historically accurate cupolas positioned along the roof. They will provide significant natural light and their operable windows will allow for natural ventilation during the warm summer months.

West-Facing Glass Wall – Passersby will be able to see beautiful views of the cellar through a large glass wall on the west end of the building, which provides ample natural light for the workspace inside. To minimize heat gain, these windows will be coated with a film that reduces the greenhouse effect by 80%. This allows for us to receive plenty of light with limited additional air conditioning requirements in the summer. Allan Avis Architects also used Revit Architecture to model the perfect location for a tree, which in the mid-afternoon will provide a long shadow across the glass wall, further limiting unwanted heat gain. The tree will be deciduous — meaning it sheds its leaves annually —so during the winter months, light will be able to shine through the tree and provide some additional light and warmth for the cellar.

Ceiling Fans – Seven 10’-diameter ceiling fans, strategically placed throughout the building, will increase air movement and decrease the stratification of air. This simple addition will decrease our heating and cooling requirements by nearly 20%.

LED Lighting – LEDs are highly efficient, and provide unparalleled longevity – plus, they do not negatively impact beer production. We’ll use LED light bulbs in all fixtures throughout the facility.

Vapour Barrier and Insulation – If you have been by our construction site in Blyth recently, you may have noticed the blue wrap that is applied to the structure. This BlueSkin barrier creates an airtight seal around our whole structure. Upon completion, the building will be pressurized and sensors will evaluate the airtightness of the structure so we can create a 100% guaranteed seal, increasing our heating and cooling efficiency. In addition to the barrier, we are using more insulation than required.

At Cowbell, we are committed to making great beer while having as little impact on the environment as possible. We’re excited for all of these energy-efficient technologies to come together and for Cowbell to hold the distinction of being North America’s first carbon-neutral craft brewery.