Deciding to make sustainability a priority before brewing their first beer can be beneficial for breweries short-term as well as long-term. When first opening a brewery, location should first be taken into account. Breweries thrive in areas near transportation infrastructure, growing communities, and key customers. There are four main property types, each with their own pros and cons. Greenfield sites are plots of land where the brewery would be built from the ground up, considerations would be whether or not the brewery plans on expanding as well whether or not they can afford to have new utilities installed. Brownfield sites are plots of land that had previously been contaminated, these sites are often less expensive but may require cleanup. Rehabilitation sites are previously constructed buildings that the brewery repurposes. Last, but not least, are historical properties, these often have strict regulations as to how they can be modified. Utilizing existing structures can reduce costs as well as preserve the integrity of historical properties.

Energy Efficiency

Since brewing is a resource intensive process, breweries will need to consider their current and future energy usage if they plan on expanding. 3 watts per square foot is a good estimate for determining lighting and other electrical loads. Consulting with local utility providers beforehand to ask questions is beneficial to determine potential costs and convenience.

Renewable energy sources such as geothermal energy, solar panels, and wind energy can also be employed, either directly or through Purchase Power Agreements (PPA). In a Purchase Power Agreement, a third party agrees to install a renewable energy source and then sells the renewable energy to the brewery. The PPA is most often preferred due to the fact that it requires little to no capital on the owner’s part and the energy price is often locked in far below local utility prices. A con to the PPA is that the brewery owner often has to enter a 10, 15, or 20 year term with the third party in order for them to get a return on their investment.

Common design elements used to reduce consumption include high reflective materials, insulation, air sealing, high performance window systems, considering building position/ orientation, integration of renewable energy.  These designs will all depend on the location, availability of materials, and local building codes pertaining to the brewery. It is encouraged to minimize the use of non- renewable construction material and use recycled materials whenever possible. Waste is inevitable during construction, but steps can be taken to reduce waste. Examples include not over- designing a system and using waste elsewhere in the construction process. To reduce the amount of energy used, breweries should consider using locally manufactured materials.

Proper insulation and sealant can improve energy efficiency by 20-30%. It is much cheaper to install the right insulation in a space rather than continuously operate a HVAC system. Areas that will naturally be warmer, such as production areas, will most likely require less insulation than areas where customers will be. Choosing the right roof can also enhance energy efficiency. Cool roofs, roofs with specialized heat- reflective material, absorb less heat and lower the heat island effect for the surrounding area. Green roofs, roofs that employ the use of vegetation to capture and filter rainwater, provide insulation, help manage stormwater runoff, and provide valuable green space.


Sustainable landscaping can be beneficial financially and aesthetically. Examples of smart landscaping include planting trees to block sunlight from directly hitting the building, being aware of natural flows of storm water and using it advantageously, as well as planting native vegetation.