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Example Microbrewery Fischerstube: How SMEs can contribute to SDG 13

The example of the Microbrewery Fischerstube showcases how even a small company can contribute to climate conservation. Transitioning to clean energy and reducing their CO2 footprint is possible even for the smallest companies. The energy check-up of the Energy Agency for Industry (EnAW), supported by UBS, not only helped the Fischerstube brewery to implement sustainable measures, but also promotes the competitiveness of the Basel-based family business. Andrea Alfonso, assistant to the management and responsible for the cooperation with the EnAW, explains the motivation behind the participation and the resulting opportunities for the brewery.

Interview with Andrea Alfonso, Microbrewery Fischerstube

Business Sustainability Today:

What motivated the Fischerstube brewery to take part in the EnAW energy check-up?

Andrea Alfonso:

On the one hand, there was of course an ecological aspect. We try to produce as ecologically and environmentally friendly as possible. But the economic factor was also relevant. Energy costs are rising continuously, which is why we are very interested in reducing costs where we can.
As a long-standing client of UBS, we were made aware of the energy check-up and the associated subsidies. Accordingly, we received information about the advantages of cooperating with the EnAW and the Federal Office for the Environment. This cooperation offered us the opportunity to identify energy efficiency measures together with both partners, as well as benefitting from the reimbursement of CO2 taxes through the implementation of the agreed-upon measures.
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Business Sustainability Today:

What aspects of beer brewing are particularly energy-intensive?

Andrea Alfonso:

As a brewery we distinguish between two areas. The first one includes the production and distribution of the beer. This accounts for the majority of our energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Energy consumption is highest during the brewing process, due to boiling and cooling. Transport accounts for the largest share of our CO2 footprint: from the procurement of raw materials to the delivery of our end product. The second area consists of our properties. This includes both the premises we use as a brewery and the properties we rent out. The latter include two brewery restaurants and the apartments above our brewery.

Business Sustainability Today:

What energy efficiency measures and targets for CO2 reduction have you developed with the EnAW?

Andrea Alfonso:

We have agreed to reduce our energy consumption by 2.5 percent kilowatt hours per year and to reduce our COfootprint by 4 percent per year.
The prelude is the switch to LED, initially in the brewery and in the brewery restaurants. We will then install a larger, more efficient boiler in the brewery. The third step is planned for next year with the renovation of our properties. This includes, among other things, insulating the roof and the renewal of all windows.

There are several advantages for us resulting from these implementations.
Andrea Alfonso

Business Sustainability Today:

What opportunities do you see in implementing these measures?

Andrea Alfonso:

There are several advantages for us that result from these implementations.. We are producing in a more environmentally friendly way and at the same time have lowered our energy costs. We also expect to be able to strengthen our image with this more environmentally friendly production. With regard to the topic of sustainability, we have also been active in other areas for quite some time. For example, with the help of a heat exchanger, we use the residual heat from the beer production to heat both the new brewing water for the next brewing process and the water in our rented apartments. A second example is the residues from our beer production. The so-called “spent grains” (BSG) serve as feed supplement for the animals of a local farmer. The same farmer also receives leftovers from the restaurant, which he uses for composting or again as animal feed.

Business Sustainability Today:

What challenges might the brewery face in future?

Andrea Alfonso:

One of the most important tasks we will all have to face sooner or later is undoubtedly transitioning away from fossil fuels. This will be a lengthy process, the success of which depends not only on ourselves but also on the opportunities offered by the market. We also see the procurement of our raw materials as an immediate challenge. At present, with the exception of water, we cannot obtain any in Switzerland. The reasons for this are availability, quality and quantity. That is why we receive our imports from neighboring countries. But things are moving forward in this respect in Switzerland, and we hope to be able to produce as locally as possible in the coming years. Included in that is our vision that the trend in customer behavior will develop even more strongly in the direction of “local consumption” in the future.

© Photo Andrea Alfonso: Fischerstube brewery