GRAND RAPIDS — Brewery Vivant is now the first-ever commercial brewery designated LEED Silver (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), awarded for its sustainably designed microbrewery and pub located in the East Hills neighborhood on the city’s Southeast Side.
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000, LEED “provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions,” according to its website.
The council’s LEED rating systems are developed through an “open, consensus-based process” led by LEED committees. Vivant meets the standards of “achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health,” which includes “sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”
The brainchild of husband and wife Jason and Kris Spaulding, Brewery Vivant opened in December 2010. Despite the challenges of renovating a space that previously housed a historic funeral chapel built near the turn of the 20th century, the couple is proud of renovations meeting the standards for LEED Silver.
“This project proved to be a real challenge as not only did we need to retrofit an existing building to LEED standards, but we also had to conform to Historic Preservation standards,” said Keith Winn, President of Catalyst Partners whose company managed the LEED portion of the project. “Despite the challenge, we loved working on this project as it ended up having such a positive impact on the neighborhood.”
“The owners made a big commitment to re-purpose a building that was a vacant eyesore and transformed it into a vibrant community-gathering place.”
The LEED plaque will be dedicated by Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell during a ceremony at the brewpub on Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m. The company will debut its East Hills Organic Ale made with organic grains and 100 percent Michigan grown organic hops at the event.
According to a recent study by the National Trust for Historic Buildings, retrofitting an existing building to make it at least 30 percent more efficient is almost always better for the environment than constructing a new building.
The brewery, which specializes in Belgian- and French-inspired beers, has incorporated many sustainable practices into their day-to-day operations, meaning the company’s goals are not just financially motivated.
“Being a sustainable company means being concerned about more than just the bottom line, ” said Kris Spaulding, Sustainability Director and Co-Owner of Brewery Vivant. “When we make decisions, we weigh the impacts on our community as well as the environment.”
The company offsets 100 percent of its energy usage through purchasing Renewable Energy Credits.
“While the brewery does not have a turbine on the roof, we purchased RECs from Renewable Choice Energy so that all the energy we use each year is replaced by energy produced renewably on a wind farm,” Spaulding added.
The company distributes its beer throughout the Mitten State and plans to enter the Chicago market this summer. However, do not look for bottles of beer sitting on shelves — the brewery only ships its beer in aluminum cans.
“After researching the full environmental impact of canning vs. bottling, it was an easy decision once the data was in front of us,” co-owner/president Jason Spaulding said. “Not only are the cans better for the environment, but our beer will actually taste better out of a can, as the beer is better protected from the negative effects of sunlight and oxygen.”
“People also love to take our beer where bottles can’t go like camping, boating and golfing. Until recently there were almost no craft beer options (in cans).”
A portion of proceeds during the Feb. 16 LEED plaque ceremony benefit FRESH. Field Research in Earth Science Happenings is a summer program designed to help middle school students in the Grand Rapids Public School System gain a firm background in science and help them become comfortable in nature.