Standing Stone Brewing Company

energy & resource conservation

By in Community, Events 0

Ashland: Where Ya At?

220px-SOLC_250pxLooking for dinner and a show this Tuesday? Join us at 5pm as we welcome the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy to present a free community talk: Ashland, Where Ya At?

This is an opportunity to discover natural and cultural history of the southern Bear Creek Valley with beer and food in hand! Professor Pat Acklin and archeologist/historian Dr. Jeff Lelande will offer visual presentations on our region’s geography, geology and history. We will also hear short stories from local experts about our area’s birds, fish and plants.

This educational event is inspired by other fast-paced community presentations, such as Pecha Kucha (which Standing Stone welcomes several times a year), with visual aids and a timeline for each presenter. Settle in with your preferred fare and enjoy the show on our large projector screen in the main dining room.

The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy (SOLC) is our local land trust, working exclusively in the area since 1978. By cooperatively working with landowners and partners, SOLC works to preserve traditional livelihoods while also securing the wildlife habitat. They have successfully conserved thousands of acres of working farms and ranches, riverbanks, forests, parks and scenic lands. Come support and experience this active, passionate local organization!

Arrive early to grab your seat on Tuesday, April 8th. Presentations run 5-6pm, with an opportunity for questions after. For more information, call the Land Conservancy at (541) 482-3069.

By in Sustainability 0

Meet Our Heat Exchanger: Transforming “Waste” Heat Into Energy

Photo: M. Schweisguth

One of our sustainability goals is reaching zero net energy use at our restaurant and brewery. This means making sure the energy we make at Standing Stone Brewing is equal to or greater than what we take from utilities. This reduces emissions, increases energy independence and cuts operating costs.

Several years ago, we commissioned an audit to map out electricity and natural gas consumption, and develop a plan to reach zero net energy use. We’ve been making progress since then, including installing an Energy Management System (automates heat, light and other systems), putting solar panels on our roof and adding a heat exchanger (also known as waste heat recovery).

Heat exchangers transform “waste heat” emitted by appliances and building systems—like the warmth you feel behind your refrigerator—into fuel for other processes. By harnessing it, we avoid wasting this resource and reduce external energy needs. To share more about the process we asked co-owner Alex Amarotico, who set up the heat exchanger and spearheaded our zero net energy plan, to tell us about it.

What does a heat exchanger do?

We installed a water-cooled heat exchanger. This captures heat that’s produced by condensing units in refrigerant systems like our walk in cooler, walk in freezer and glycol chiller, and transfers it to our hot water heating system.

What are the main pieces and how does it work?

It has a stainless steel heat exchanger (made of many plates of thin stainless steel), valves that divert waste heat to the water-cooled heat, an exchanger for heating water (or our original air-cooled heat exchanger), circulators that push water through the heat exchanger, and a computerized control unit that monitors and controls system operations.

Why did you decide to install a heat exchanger?

The zero net energy use plan we commissioned showed this was one of the measures with the highest energy savings and cost efficiency. We’re prioritizing improvements by overall impact to make the most of our resources and generate savings to invest in additional pieces of the plan.

How much energy does it save?

It cuts about 10% of our energy use. Given the energy load of a typical brewery and restaurant, this is significant!

What’s next for SSBC’s energy conservation and renewables efforts?

We’re exploring ways to reuse waste cooking oil to make electricity or heat. We currently provide this to a biodiesel company but would love to close the loop, and process and reuse it in house.

Thank, Alex! If you’re intrigued and inspired, try a few simple tricks at home. If you have an oven that vents through one of your stove burners, plan ahead to cook on that burner when you’ll be baking. Steam veggies above a pot of pasta. If you have a cat or a laptop, keep them on your lap and turn down the thermostat down a few degrees, too (wink).

Feel free to ask for a peek at the accessible parts of our system the next time you visit our brewpub and restaurant, too.

By in Sustainability 0

Earth Day – Simple Steps to Honor it Daily

Happy Earth Day – a time to reflect on how we can improve our environmental impact! At Standing Stone, we think it’s important do this every day.

There are lots of ways to right size our environmental footprint, and the earth needs lots of TLC to address problems like pollution, climate change, species extinction, mounting trash, and threats to forests, native ecosystems and biodiversity.

Given all this, we may be left wondering where to start, or whether individual actions matter. We believe that whatever path calls us is the best way to begin, that small steps add up to a big difference, and that sustainability can be a fun, fulfilling, creative challenge.

We thought we’d share simple suggestions based on what we’ve learned in our journey. Many of these save money, enhance health and build local economies as well. We’d love to hear your thoughts too!

Savor sustainability: Choose organic and local foods and beverages to keep synthetic substances out of your body and the earth, and reduce fuel use. Scope out farmers markets, farm stands and local goods, join a Community Supported Agriculture program and grow your own. We buy local and organic food, raise chickens and hope to start our own farm.

Be energy smart: Use compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. Turn off unused lights, appliances and electronics. Make home and business improvements, from weather stripping to windows. Choose green energy or renewable energy credits, or install solar or wind. We’re aiming for net zero energy use, buy “Green Tags” and have solar panels. We love seeing the sun spin our meter! Try these bright ideas.

Don’t guzzle gas: Bike, walk, take public transit, carpool, use high MPG vehicles and don’t idle. Shop locally. We love biking and are honored to be a 2011 BTA Alice Award recipient, recognizing Oregon’s leading bicycle advocates. Get rolling with these tips.

Waste not: ‘Precycle’ to avoid materials that will become trash. Avoid unnecessary and over-packaged items. Share stuff like tools with friends. Buy used, unpackaged and bulk-size goods. Look for reusable, compostable or recyclable packaging. Reuse, sell, trade, give away, compost and recycle everything. We’re striving toward zero waste, and delight in discovering new ways divert materials from our dumpster. Try these ideas.

Be water wise: Drink tap water (not bottled water) – we love it and proudly serve it! Don’t run water needlessly. Aerate faucets and shower heads. Mulch your garden, get drip irrigation and put rain barrels on downspouts. Choose non-toxic, biodegradable products. Drink up these tips .

Enjoy and advocate: Take time for recreation like hiking, biking, running, snow and water sports, gazing at the sky, relaxing in the park, gardening or bird watching. Learn about what interests you and teach others. Volunteer and donate to worthy causes. Contact legislators about issues that mater to you. This all feels great and helps us rejuvenate for the next steps.

What do you do to help the planet? What do you want to do better? What suggestions do you have for us? Post a comment to share your thoughts—we’re in this together!

Happy Earth Day—let’s make it a lifelong celebration and commitment.

By in Sustainability 0

Energy Conservation & Renewable Power: Plug In!

October is Energy Awareness Month. As part of our efforts to improve our environmental impact, we’ve worked to reduce our energy consumption and increase the amount of clean, renewable power we use. Our long-term goal is to reach zero net energy, producing all the energy we need right here at Standing Stone Brewing.

Saving energy and choosing renewable sources benefit both people and planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and avoiding the negative ecological impacts associated with fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal, such as mountaintop removal, oil spills and water pollution. Conservation also saves money, and wisely chosen renewable systems can be cost-effective, especially with financial incentives offered by the federal government and many states and utilities.

We’ve taken a number of steps in this direction:

  • We’re installing a heat exchange recovery system that will capture heat emitted from operating processes and route it to our water heaters to reduce energy needed to heat water
  • There’s a 4.6 kW solar system on our roof, generating about 7,800 kWh of clean electricity while eliminating 10 tons of CO2 emissions each year.
  • We have an adjustable, louvered awning on our patio deck which limits our buildings’ heat absorption and reduces our need for air-conditioning.
  • We installed an Energy Management System that helps optimize efficiency for heating, cooling and lighting by allowing us to automate some systems and tailor others to seasonal conditions.
  • Our kitchen has an energy-saving variable-speed hood control system that has reduced our natural gas and electricity use by 22 percent versus constant fans. It’s also quieter, which makes our kitchen team happier.
  • Employees receive free bikes if they agree to commute 45 times annually. We buy local ingredients and supplies as much as possible. These actions save significant fuel, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and costs while benefiting employee health and our local economy.
  • We purchase Renewable Energy Credits to offset a portion of our electricity usage, since we can’t buy green energy directly from our utility provider.
  • We compost and recycle as much as possible, reducing the energy needed to create new things and reducing methane emissions generated by landfills.

Here are some simple, cost-effective things you can do to save energy, support renewable power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Turn off lights in unused rooms and use motion sensor lights outdoors.
  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Turn off unused appliances and electronics.
  • Unplug unused appliances, electronics and chargers. Electronics use about 10% of their power in standby mode, representing “phantom power” that’s not necessary.
  • Plug your computer and peripherals into a power strip for 1-touch on and off. This is great for your TV and electronics connected to it, and stereo systems.
  • Set your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter and 72 in summer.
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees or less.
  • Put your water heater on a timer.
  • Dress for the weather: Wear a sweater when it’s cold, and t shirts when it’s hot.
  • Use a fan instead of air conditioning.
  • Insulate and weatherstrip your home. If you’re renting, ask your landlord to do this.
  • Choose organic food. Organic soil sequesters more carbon than non-organic soil, and organic farming doesn’t use petroleum-based fertilizers.
  • Buy green energy, or renewable energy credits if you can’t buy green energy.
  • Carpool.
  • Bike.
  • Walk.
  • Use public transit.
  • Buy locally produced goods from local retailers.

Check out more tips from the EPA and get saving!

Standing Stone Bike Program Rolls Into Second Year

This month marks the One-Year Anniversary of the kick off of our Standing Stone Brewing Co. Commuter Bike Program: the RPM Club. The goal is to Reduce car trips, Promote living and working in Ashland, and Maintain an active lifestyle

Employees who’ve worked 1000 hours with Standing Stone and agree to bike commute at least 45 times to and from work per year receive a free Kona commuter bike.

We’ve had rolling success with this program, with over 700 logged trips made among our employee bike commuters! This is truly exciting for Standing Stone, since a large majority of our bike riders were car commuters before last August.

Since purchasing our first round of 17 bikes, with a lot of support from Ashland Bicycle Works, we’ve added another four to our fleet and piqued interest in our program from other businesses in the area. Rogue Creamery purchased their own bikes last year after consulting with our owners and admiring our enthusiastic employees. In fact, they brought on even more bikes to their staff than our original round!

In celebration of our anniversary, we will be participating in the annual Bike Commute Challenge put on by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance of Oregon. For the month of September, businesses and individuals who participate log trips and mileage to challenge others in the state and local community. And we do it just for fun! We have several employees who have not yet received their Standing Stone Commuter bikes and they still participated last year to contribute a large portion of our logged miles. A big thanks to our staff for showing motivation all on their own!

Always Sunny Inside

How many of you have a skylight of some sort where you work or live?

Standing Stone has a l-o-n-g skylight that runs the entire length of the building. It provides incredible diffused light throughout a large portion of the building.

As soon as the sun begins peeking up, the glow of pending daylight permeates through, even if it is cloudy and rainy. Like being in a greenhouse, it feels promising and gives off a positive vibe.

In addition to providing illumination, our building-long skylight cuts down on energy use (fewer light bulbs). We leave it unobstructed in the winter to provide light and warmth, and filter the open panel with a cover in the summer months to keep our guests cool.  Besides all this, it’s also interesting to look at.

Functional and beautiful.