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Reducing Consumer Impact, One Beer at a Time

Posted By: Peter Widmer, May 9, 2013
OneEnergy Scholar Peter Widmer Reflects on Energy Consulting Project with Flying Dog Brewery

Recognized for its loud, colorful artwork and award winning beer, Flying Dog Brewery is also seeking to become a leading energy efficient brewery.  Through the course of the 2012-13 academic year, I have had the fortunate opportunity to lead a team of thirteen George Washington University MBA students on a renewable energy and energy efficiency feasibility study for Flying Dog Brewery.   Over the course of the past year, these students have investigated the viability and impact of solar hot water technology, variable frequency drives, demand response, anaerobic digesters, and energy commodity pricing and contracts, along with much more, in order to find energy saving opportunities.


Seeking to aid Flying Dog in improving its manufacturing efficiency and reduce, or cap the environmental impact of brewing, the team set out to achieve the following four objectives.

  1. Perform a comprehensive review of past and current energy consumption and demand in order to establish an energy portfolio baseline that could be correlated to production and other independent variables.
  2. Research energy efficient brewing equipment, manufacturing processes, and opportunities for combined heat and power, with the objective to improve operational efficiency and lower energy consumption and demand.
  3. Perform technology assessments of energy measurement, monitoring, and management hardware and software that can be integrated into the facility and equipment, with the intent to control energy usage in real-time.
  4. Research on-site renewable energy opportunities for Flying Dog to produce electricity or natural gas at the facility to power a portion of day-to-day operations

Lessons Learned

  1. Energy Matters. Despite the simplicity of this statement, the cost and environmental impact of energy consumption and demand is often over looked.  Typically viewed as an inflexible, unavoidable function of manufacturing and everyday life, organizations and consumers now have more control and input in their energy costs, consumption, and the production processes used to make energy, than at any other point in modern society.  Armed with new regulatory and technological advancements, businesses like Flying Dog Brewery are responding.
  2. Start Now. Gathering a historical trend of energy consumption (kWh & Therms) and demand (kW) at the facility level, production line, or individual equipment, will improve the organization’s ability to predict financial return on new energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
  3. Commit. Whether it’s closely monitoring your utility bill, investigating new energy efficient technology, or asking for an updated solar project quote; in order to maximize your organization’s energy efficiency, reduce operational costs, and limit environmental impact you must dedicate resources to each task. Energy management, like golf, takes practice, trial and error, and a lot of patience.


Though the project has recently concluded, both Flying Dog and the student team have come away with valuable knowledge and experience – not to mention thousands of dollars of cost savings.

Extracurricular projects, such as this and the OneEnergy Scholars program, are important to the development of future energy industry leaders. The George Washington University team is forever thankful for the opportunity Flying Dog Brewery has provided, and we look forward to working together in the future again.

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