By working with GaMEP, Creature Comforts Brewing Co. has:
- Projected a savings of $20,000 in electrical costs over a 12-month period.
- Become more efficient in pounds of carbon dioxide used per barrel of beer produced, decreasing from 19 pounds to 16 pounds.
- Collaborated with the University Of Georgia College Of Engineering Capstone Senior Design Program to work with students on designing and implementing a CHP power system by April 2022, which has the potential to produce cost savings of up to $40,000 per year.
- Improved overall employee confidence and knowledge in executing best practices and implementing technology to improve energy efficiency throughout their facility.
Located in Athens, Georgia, Creature Comforts Brewing Co. is a craft beer company that produces and distributes high-quality beers, including a variety of seasonal and specialty releases. Since opening its doors in 2014, the company has experienced tremendous growth. After several years in business, they realized that there was a need for additional space to accommodate their expanding production. In 2017, Creature Comforts tackled this issue by building a new 40,000 square foot facility located in Athens at the historic Southern Mill complex.
After opening the second facility, Creature Comforts’ Sustainability Manager, Jacob Yarbrough, recognized that there was a general lack of knowledge among staff when it came to executing best practices in energy efficiency within the new space. Yarbrough knew there were opportunities available that would help address this knowledge gap and help the facility become more efficient.
In January of 2021, Yarbrough reached out to the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech to inquire about an energy and sustainability assessment. The concept of an energy assessment was not new to Creature Comforts – the company had previously completed energy assessments through other providers at the original facility. However, after speaking with Kelly Grissom, GaMEP project manager, Yarbrough learned that the GaMEP assessment would be much more comprehensive and provide him with precise data and specific action items that would allow him to confidently approach the company’s leadership team with requests for investments and new equipment, if the assessment deemed them necessary.
During the one-day assessment, Grissom and his team used different methods to analyze users of electricity throughout the facility – mainly those based on compressed air usage and carbon dioxide usage during the manufacturing process. It was determined that most of the facility’s issues stemmed from its air compressor system. After attaching a closed circuit data logger to the compressor, Grissom observed that electricity was still running through the compressor during times of non-production, which indicated there were air leaks in need of repair. With this information, Yarbrough was able to request the purchase of an ultrasonic leak detector, which is essentially a high frequency microphone that finds leaks in pipes in compressed gas systems.
Grissom also encouraged the company to switch to a more efficient and cost-effective blower-driven system instead of using compressed air to dry and clean conveyed parts. Another quick fix for the compressed air system involved reducing the compressor’s set point to the lowest possible pressure while still delivering the point-of-use requirements. As part of its preventive maintenance plan, the company is conducting a full audit of its compressed air systems and carbon dioxide usage two times per year. All of these recommendations help reduce electricity consumption as well as carbon emissions.
Other recommendations following the assessment included using combined heat and power (CHP) by bringing in a system that uses natural gas to generate electricity. A CHP system would produce cleaner energy while putting off heat that could be used during the production process (versus using industrial heaters). Generating electricity in this way would also help prevent power loss and further contribute to the reduction of the plant’s energy consumption and carbon emissions.
By implementing all of the proposed recommendations, the company stands to achieve a cost savings of up to $60,000 per year. They have also met with Bill Nusbaum, Northeast Georgia region manager, in recent months and look forward to discussing future opportunities to take advantage of other services provided by the GaMEP.