Kona Brewing Company is engaged in energy saving systems and choices, from sophisticated equipment, to simple behaviors such as turning off unnecessary lights. At Kailua-Kona, a roof-mounted, grid-tied photovoltaic system produces an average of 645 KWh of electricity each day, allowing us to offset nearly 50% of the brewery’s electricity needs. It is estimated that over the lifetime of the solar system, it will prevent approximately 16,830 barrels of oil from being shipped to the island.
Within the brewing process, heat exchangers are used to recapture the thermal energy produced by brewing. Natural lighting is provided in the brewery through solar tubes rather than using wasteful electricity. Outdoor lighting has been replaced as well with more efficient LED and CFL lights.
Water conservation practices are a tenant of brewing for Kona Brewing Company. We collect both rainwater (using repurposed whiskey barrels) and excess condensation from our air-conditioning. This collected water is used for irrigation and on-site gardens, allowing the Kona Pub to recycle 53,000 gallons of water a year. In addition, the re-captured water offsets nearly 9% of brewing water needs.
In 2010, Kona made its bottles 11% lighter, which eliminates annually 3,375 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equivalent to taking 638 cars off the road. In brewing, we use local Hawaiian ingredients, including Kona coffee, ginger, lemongrass, and cacao nibs.
An integral component of Kona Brewing Company’s business plan is to grow the business with ecological integrity, reducing the company’s carbon footprint whenever possible. By producing its bottled beer and mainland draft beer on the mainland, close to markets, Kona Brewing Company has dramatically reduced its reliance upon transportation fuel for raw materials, packaging and distribution. In addition, this practice allows fans in all of our markets to receive the freshest, most sustainable beer possible.
As a company we aggressively recycle cardboard, plastic, paper, glass, metal, and electronics. Whenever possible, we use products and services that can be sourced locally and are non-hazardous, reusable, recyclable, and/or compostable. We strive for zero-waste with all our events, including the annual Kona Brewers Festival which is a completely zero-waste event.
Spent grains, a byproduct from the brewing process, are reused rather than wasted. Most of our spent grains are picked up by local farmers to use as feed for their cattle. The remaining amount is used as an ingredient in the pubs’ pizza and bread dough. Kona Brewing Company also sends all the kitchen scraps to local pig farmers. In addition, all grease from the pub is recycled through local bio-fuel companies.
When cans were introduced in 2011, we opted to use recyclable plastic six-pack handles, instead of the traditional plastic rings that have had negative impacts on waterways and wildlife.
Kona Brewing Company used reclaimed and recycled materials to build our facilities. Support beams, doors, and even our main bar are made from reclaimed wood. We also use benches made from recycled milk jugs, tables from old whiskey barrels, and planters made from old kegs.
The Kona Brewpub and Koko Marina Pub have both earned certifications from the Green Restaurant Association. The Kailua-Kona pub is a 4-star level, the highest that can be achieved, and the Koko pub is a 3-star level. Our two restaurants are the only two restaurants in Hawaii to achieve this prestigious certification. To qualify for this certification a company must recycle & compost at every opportunity, use energy efficient kitchen equipment, purchase products with recycled-content, reduce chemical use, and source local, sustainable food when possible, including sustainably-harvested fish.
Kona is committed to social responsibility and our communities, donating over $250,000 annually in cash and products to local non-profit organizations. We strive to support only like-minded companies who protect our water, oceans, and environment. For example, the Kona Brewers Fest also raises funds for local environmental, educational, and cultural charities. Other partner organizations include The Surfrider Foundation, Mālama Maunalua, and Blue Planet Foundation.
Our employees, with guidance from the sustainability committee, most directly influence the success of the company’s overall sustainability efforts. Sustainability training is included as part of orientation for all new employees, informing of our goals, progress, and reinforcing the role that sustainability plays in each employee’s responsibilities. In addition, we give incentives for employees who ride their bike, use public transportation, or walk to work rather than driving.