Earth Day Q&A with Sustainability Lead Jacob Yarbrough

Happy Earth Day! Here at Creature we believe that good companies make good neighbors, and that neighborhood doesn’t just include the people around us – it encompasses our landscape, our local streets, our local parks, and plants and animals too.  

We have a growing sustainability program that tracks our usage of every resource we use – water, electricity, natural gas, and carbon dioxide – and seeks to reduce the amount used through resource management, staff education, and equipment innovation. We asked our Sustainability Lead, Jacob Yarbrough, to share more about some of our most recent efforts.   

We recently installed solar panels at both of our Athens’ facilities. Can you tell us more about these and how they will help Creature’s energy usage?  

Solar arrays are rated by how much power they can provide at peak production during summer months. The Southern Mill production facility has a 165-kilowatt solar array, and the taproom at Snow Tire has a 27-kilowatt solar array. Southern Mill uses around 360 kilowatts total so that the solar array can provide 45% of the facility’s needs. When combined with our existing purchases of Renewable Energy Credits through Georgia Power, it’s definitely possible that Creature Comforts can meet 100% of our electrical energy demand from renewable sources this summer. 

What are the details of our partnership with DaySpring Farms, and why did we decide to source their wheat for Athena?  

Last year we began a pilot program to incorporate DaySpring wheat into Athena to test whether we could make a large-scale switch, and the results were fantastic. We decided to partner with DaySpring because we believe they grow the best organic wheat in Georgia. Moving from our original Canadian wheat supplier to a local farm reduces transportation emissions, adds resiliency to our supply chain, and keeps more of our dollars in the local economy.  

How do we track our resource usage?  

Tracking resource usage (for us: water, electricity, natural gas, CO2, and solid waste generation) helps us understand how well we perform as a manufacturer. Reducing our resource usage is beneficial both to the economic bottom line and the environmental bottom line. We track each individual resource in two ways: aggregated, facility-level usage, and disaggregated specific instance use. Aggregated data is as simple as looking at utility bills and comparing them to beer output to develop a ratio – gallons of water used per gallon of beer packaged – while disaggregate data requires equipment like flowmeters, current transducers, etc. to measure specific instances of resource usage to look for reduction opportunities. 

What kind of efforts have we made to reduce waste? 

We follow zero-waste recommendations for right-sizing collection containers, ensuring that we’re offering recycling/composting collection with each trash can. We’ve also changed over to recyclable cardboard boxes for most canned beer, which reduces the amount of plastic waste we generate by a significant amount. Our number one waste product by weight – spent grain – is used as livestock feed, so it avoids the landfill completely. 

What would you say is the overall purpose of our sustainability program? 

Making the best beer possible as efficiently as possible and incorporating our sustainability into the heart of our operations and organization. 

What are the biggest hurdles for becoming a more sustainable brewery? 

There are a few challenges – developing knowledge and techniques, mapping project value – but the support from staff and management is huge for our progress. 

What does the future of sustainability look like for CCBC? 

We’re just getting started. We’re looking at pursuing independent certifications – zero waste, LEED, potential offsets, and carbon-neutral brews – the sky is the limit with sustainability at CCBC. 

Anything else you’d like to share about sustainability at Creature Comforts? 

Sustainability can be a bit of a buzzword, something that can mean different things to different people – I want people to know that the work we do here is interwoven within the core of operations—authenticity matters. Sustainability isn’t something that can be achieved easily, and it requires ongoing work from a lot of people, but we’re committed to continuing to improve.

Stay tuned for more future updates on our sustainability efforts. Cheers to beer as a force for good!