Center for Sustainability Helps NC Wineries and Breweries be Lean and Green

NC Vineyard

Thanks to a two-year, $110,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, ECU’s Center for Sustainability within the College of Engineering and Technology worked with five North Carolina breweries and five wineries to help them with pollution prevention (P2) and minimize waste.

The project, called Lean and Green at North Carolina Wineries and Breweries, assessed ways these facilities can reduce pounds of pollution, conserve energy and water, reduce greenhouse gases and save money through economy, energy and environment best practices. The college also provided on-site Lean and P2 diagnostic assessment and follow-up technical assistance.

“The North Carolina wine and beer industries are primarily dominated by small to mid-sized operations, many of whom lack particular expertise or access to knowledge of energy and water conservation and waste reduction,” said Dr. Tarek Abdel-Salam, the grant’s principal investigator and director of ECU’s Center for Sustainability. “The goal was to provide hands-on technical assistance to industries that appeal to green-minded consumers and who are likely inclined to adopt green practices.”

Lean and Green

Abdel-Salam, along with co-investigator Dr. Kanchan Das, two graduate students, and 10 undergraduate students, visited facilities to identify areas of potential and necessary environmental improvement. Data was collected from each site that looked at energy, water, sewer usage, costs and production characteristics.

After assessing the data, recommendations were provided to the breweries and wineries. These recommendations found expected energy savings in four potential areas:

  • HVAC Systems
  • Refrigeration Systems
  • Sterilization
  • Lighting

Suggested changes focused on steps that included adding solar panels, boiler adjustments, silo locations, piping, filtering and others.

According to Abdel-Salam, some facilities have implemented these recommendations and some have adjusted their strategic planning to reflect the suggestions.

“Our reports highlighted how the minimal investment to implement changes would show savings in one to five years,” said Abdel-Salam. “In a state that has over 140 wineries and 120 breweries, the competition is fierce and every little bit of savings counts.”

Dr. Tarek Abdel-Salam

Abdel-Salam recently presented his findings at the international Top-Level Forum on Engineering Sciences and Technology Development Strategy in China.