In Episode 74 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on August 25, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Jenn Vervier, director of sustainability at New Belgium Brewing Company.
New Belgium Brewing Company prides itself on providing meaningful employment for its owners and workers. It promotes a “high-involvement culture,” in which individuals “bring their whole selves to work” and everyone’s voice is heard. Specifically, the company engages in participative decision-making, soliciting feedback from top to bottom. All co-workers are included in strategic planning and business operations, and financial reports are shared monthly with all workers.
But – they don’t forget that business can be fun! New Belgium Brewing Company is employee-owned, with workers brought into the ownership after a year. On that anniversary, they also receive a bike. Once employees have worked there for five years, they receive a weeklong, all-expenses-paid trip to Belgium to learn about Belgian beer culture. Those are certainly nice perks!
Make no mistake about it, though, sustainability is a guiding business principle of the company. In addition to donating to environmental causes, New Belgium Brewing Company is also one of the first breweries to publish a life- cycle carbon footprint of its processes for consumers. Plus, New Belgium is constantly looking for ways to hone the efficiency and limit the impacts of its operations. For example, the company instituted a new method of dry hopping that saves millions of gallons of water a year, and it also has changed its bottle lubricants to similarly conserve water. For a beer company, conserving water has a tremendous influence on the bottom line and the environment.
In addition, New Belgium has a 200kW solar PV array, 800kW of cogeneration, which produces electricity from the methane captured from its on-site process water treatment, and 200kW of thermal storage—making cold water or ice at night, off peak, to use in the brewing process and in office HVAC during the hottest part of the day.
Are you more likely to drink New Belgium Brewing Company beer after learning about its core values?