ANN ARBOR, MICH. — Ann Arbor’s first brewpub also became Michigan’s first solar brewery when it went online with a $95,000 solar-thermal and photovoltaic system on June 18, 2012.
Arbor Brewing Company’s sustainable energy system uses the sun’s energy to generate electricity as well as the majority of the hot water needed for brewery and restaurant operations.
The project grew out of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) Energy Conservation Grant Program which provided free energy audits and 50 percent project rebates (up to $20,000) to downtown businesses that implemented audit recommendations to become more energy efficient. Arbor Brewing Company owner Matt Greff worked with Ann Arbor DDA Energy Programs Director David Konkle as well as a consulting team from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment led by Jarett Diamond. Together they were able to identify a number of financial resources and incentives to help offset the installation cost of the system including the $20,000 grant from the DDA, a $10,000 interest-free loan from the city, a 30 percent tax credit from the federal government, and various incentives from DTE.
Arbor Brewing Company’s sustainable energy system includes a 2.4 kW solar photovoltaic array, 300 solar thermal collector tubes and a high-efficiency tankless water heater system to supplement the heat from the collector tubes when necessary. When combined with other improvements like switching to CFL and LED lighting and installing low-flow sprayers and occupancy sensors, the system is expected to offset gas usage by up to 40% and electricity usage by up to 15%.
Arbor Brewing Company’s Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti also is nearing completion on its own $250,000 Green Brewery Project, which includes solar-thermal, photovoltaic, and geo-thermal technologies along with other improvements such as new windows and awnings and energy-efficient chiller equipment. The system has with a total system rating of 18 kW electric, and 64.8 kW thermal and is expected to provide almost all of Corner Brewery’s hot water needs and up to 15% of its electricity. It is set to go online later this summer.
According to Greff the project, which took more than two years to complete, was worth every bit of effort.
“It feels really good to know that we were able to make changes that are as good for the environment as they are for the bottom line,” Greff said. “We couldn’t have done it without the expertise and assistance we received from our many partners and we hope to be able to assist other small businesses interested in improving their energy efficiency.”
Arbor Brewing Company is hosting a ribbon-cutting reception to celebrate the launch of its new sustainable energy system 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 11 at the brewpub at 114 E Washington St, Ann Arbor. Corner Brewery is hosting its celebration 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 720 Norris St, Ypsilanti. Both events are free and open to the public.