How Lawson's Finest Liquids brews up energy and carbon savings

3 min read
Waitsfield

Lawson’s Finest Liquids is committed to brewing excellent beer. Excellent not only to drink, but to make. They are committed to reducing their impact on the planet and embedding sustainability in every aspect of the brewing process. So far, they’ve transformed their brewery’s lighting to be 100% LED and installed over 600 kW of solar across their Waitsfield facility, including Vermont’s largest solar canopy covering their parking lot. They have 16 electric vehicle chargers on site so staff and visitors can charge up. They send their brewing leftovers to an anaerobic digester to generate energy. And they’ve partnered with Efficiency Vermont to invest in energy efficiency throughout their brewery. They’ve installed efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. They’ve also invested in efficient motors and pumps for the brewing process.

“Making our brewery as sustainable as possible just makes sense. We consider how we can make a positive impact through every aspect of our business. Our partnership with Efficiency Vermont has enabled us to save money, save energy, and reduce our carbon impact.”

Carra Cheslin, Social Impact Program Manager, Lawson’s Finest Liquids

Their latest project takes the next big step to reduce their environmental impact. Lawson’s installed a 3,500 sq. ft. cooler that uses natural refrigerants that will dramatically reduce the brewer’s future carbon emissions.

The impact of refrigeration on the environment

Refrigeration relies on something called refrigerants to maintain cold temperatures. Refrigerants are common: they’re in refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and heat pumps, to name a few. If the system works as it’s intended, the refrigerant should stay contained and never leak. Unfortunately, as equipment ages, leaks develop.

Most refrigerants used today are synthetic—that means they’re man-made chemicals and among the most damaging greenhouse gases around. When they escape into the atmosphere, it’s a big problem for the climate One of the most common synthetic refrigerants are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs emit about 133 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

What does that mean in practice? Efficiency Vermont’s analyses have found that if all of Vermont’s commercial refrigeration systems cut their annual leaks in half, it would save at least 80,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. That would be like taking 17,000 cars off the road for a year.

Lawson’s Finest Liquids takes an all-natural (refrigerant) approach

The new walk-in cooler at Lawson’s Finest doesn’t just try to minimize leaks. It uses an entirely different refrigerant, one with significantly lower climate impacts. The cooler relies on carbon dioxide, a natural refrigerant. Natural refrigerants like carbon dioxide pollute up to 4,000 times less than synthetic refrigerants like HFCs.

 

“Thanks to Efficiency Vermont’s expertise and incentives, we were able to identify and purchase a new cooler that meets our space needs and dramatically reduces our carbon emissions. This is a win for the planet and our business.”

Sean Lawson, Brewer and Co-Owner, Lawson’s Finest Liquids

Natural refrigerants are still relatively new technology. There have only been a few natural refrigerant systems installed in Vermont so far, but the number grows every year. The installation at Lawson’s Finest not only helps reduce their impact, but it also paves the way for other Vermont businesses to follow suit. Lawson’s Finest installation can be a model for other brewers and retailers to invest in this climate-friendly technology.

“Lawson's Finest Liquids continues to focus on minimizing their energy and environmental footprint. Their installation of a cutting-edge natural refrigerant system significantly reduces potential environmental impacts common in traditional models. It's another example of Lawson’s Finest commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions from Vermont's renowned brewing industry.”

Ethan Bellevance, Lead Engineering Consultant, Efficiency Vermont
Good for the triple bottom line

As a certified B-Corp, Lawson’s Finest Liquids cares about the “triple bottom line” of people, planet, and profit. Investing in efficiency measures has helped them meet all three goals. Efficiency Vermont found that installing the natural refrigerant cooler will save them $13,000/year in energy savings over its lifetime. It will also avoid 223,184 lbs. of CO₂e each year, equivalent to over 13 homes’ energy use.

All photos courtesy of Lawson's Finest Liquids

At the same time, they continue to brew more barrels of award-winning beer each year. Their employees benefit from working in efficient, comfortable spaces. And the business saves money through each efficiency measure they’ve installed. That makes it an easy choice for Lawson’s Finest to keep investing in efficiency as they continue to brew excellent beer.