architecture business food sustainability

Otter: Britain’s most sustainable brewery

My occasional building of the week series has included a station, an office block and a youth hostel, but no breweries yet. Since Otter Brewery in Devon has been named Britain’s most sustainable brewery by the Society of Independent Brewers, let’s correct that shall we?

Otter is a small family business that has put sustainability at the heart of their business model, and the brewery has a number of innovative environmental features. A specially designed cellar uses the earth’s natural core temperature to keep 5,000 casks of beer at the optimum 12 degrees for storing cask ale. It cuts carbon emissions and saves the company £27,000 a year in electricity bills for cooling. The building has a green roof that keeps it cool, that collects rainwater for cleaning and maintenance, and that blends unobtrusively into its surroundings in the Blackdown Hills.

Brewing uses a lot of water. It takes five pints of water to make one pint of beer. Otter draws its water from a natural spring, and is able to recycle its waste water by naturally filtering it through reed beds. The water is run through a series of ponds where willow plants can draw up nutrients, until the purified water flows out into a lake at the end of the process.

Other waste products are used imaginatively too. Waste grain mash from the malting barley is turned into cattle feed, the yeast goes into pig feed, and spent hops are used as mulch.

Otter Brewery is a great example of using innovative techniques to improve environmental performance and business profitability at the same time. Congratulations, and I look forward to sampling their wares next time I’m down south.


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