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Case Study: Discretion Brewing    

Santa Cruz County’s First Solar-Powered and Green Certified Brewery  

 

For the owners of Discretion Brewing, it was never just about the beer. Their organic ales and lagers may steal the limelight, but the true purpose of their business is to work together as a family while giving back to the community. Discretion’s Chief Beer Ambassador, Dustin Vereker, explains that when they first opened their doors in 2013, environmental stewardship was a top priority.

“When we first thought about starting Discretion Brewing, being good stewards of the world around us was one of the key tenets of our business plan,” says Vereker. “We have three generations that are growing up through this business and we want to leave this world better than we found it.”

This commitment to improving the world around them is present in Discretion’s welcoming, inclusive space, their delicious craft beer made with organic ingredients, and, of course, their investment in solar. Additional benefits also include a decrease in their water usage, an increase in the amount of waste diverted from the landfill and an increase in energy efficiency through the integration of solar and more efficient lighting fixtures.

 

Solar-powered pints reduce resources and overhead

 

Everything Discretion does has sustainability in mind, from brewing with organic malts and hops to reducing water usage and waste. (Central Coast pigs get to chow down on the brewery’s spent grain, diverting 225,00 pounds of grain from the landfill every year!)

They knew solar was the next logical step, but the up-front cost was a concern at first. Once they saw the long-term return on investment, however, any remaining doubts disappeared.         

“We chose to go solar because it just made sense,” says Vereker. “We care about our local community and the global environment, and we saw that we’d basically get electricity for free after 7 years. Allterra gave us a very clear understanding of what they would do and gave us the cost up front. When we saw everything penciled out for us, the money was a non-issue. Beyond that, the feel good factor of knowing that we’re generating our own electricity in our own facility to make our own product … just that alone is enough for us.”

 

Powered by the sun and exceptional service

 

Installed in 2014, Discretion’s 120 high-efficiency panels initially powered 75 percent of the brewery’s total electricity needs. They’ve now almost tripled in size, but the 30K solar system still provides 50 percent of their energy needs, from their giant walk-in fridge and pump system to lighting, computers, and everything else needed to run a modern-day business.

Over the years, Vereker says, the above-and-beyond level of service they’ve come to expect from Allterra has never fallen short.   

“Allterra has always been very responsive, even post installation,” says Vereker. “They’re always willing to come out, even after-hours. They’ve been great from day one all the way through to today, four-and-a-half years later.”

 

Industry leaders in sustainability

 

The first solar-powered brewery in Santa Cruz County and one of only a few in the state, Discretion has always been a leader in sustainable business practices. A certified green business through the Santa Cruz County Green Business Program, Discretion also helped the program establish current green guidelines for the brewery sector.  

“When it comes to Discretion I’m very impressed,” says Shawn Orgel-Olson,  Coordinator for the Santa Cruz County Green Business Program. “They’re doing so much that they don’t advertise, from how they’re sourcing the ingredients to how they’re using solar energy to power their brewery … They’re always conscientious about what they’re doing.”

 

When certified green businesses unite

 

As a certified green business itself, Allterra is proud to have played a role in Discretion’s sustainability efforts and their ability to better serve the Santa Cruz community. Vereker agrees that Allterra has been an invaluable partner in helping them achieve their goals and uphold their values.

“When we started Discretion Brewing we thought of creating a community space where everyone could come and feel safe,” says Vereker. “We also wanted the business to give back to the community through sustainability goals, charity donations, and through just good, solid people. The folks at Allterra Solar have helped us do that in more ways than one.”