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Birdsong Brewing Co. Singing A Sustainable Tune

The North Carolina Brewery Prioritizes Eco-Friendly Practices

Photo Courtesy Birdsong Brewing Co.

Charlotte, North Carolina’s Birdsong Brewing Co. looks to the sky for its energy generation. The popular business is the only solar-powered brewery in the city and has cut its energy bill by 40% since installing solar panels. It says its photovoltaic system can produce around half its electricity. 

As a mid-size brewery, Birdsong consumes a significant amount of power for HVAC, glycol chillers, air compressors, and walk-in coolers. Overall, the business says it has reduced carbon emissions significantly, up to the equivalent of planting more than 7,000 trees.

Co-owners Chris and Tara Goulet opened Birdsong Brewing in 2010. It has always been important to make sustainability a priority for the company. The idea to switch to solar began with a beer release that came with a solar rebate incentive from Duke Energy. In 2018, the couple installed a 75-kilowatt solar array on the roof.

Photo Courtesy Birdsong Brewing Co.

“It was a unique opportunity to do something that we hoped would reduce our environmental impact,” Chris told The Business Download. “And we have benefited in a bunch of ways. So one, we produce a lot of electricity, which saves us money every year.”

“Two, we’re able to get the federal tax credits,” he continued.

“Our solar array produces between 30 and 40% of our total electricity usage. As an added benefit, the panels shade our roof and reduce the indoor temperature of our production space.”

Solar is just one of Birdsong’s clean initiatives. The company also uses LED lighting, sources local product ingredients, and carefully tracks water consumption. Birdsong has also developed relationships with local farmers who use the brewer’s spent grain and peanut shells to supplement feed for their livestock. 

The brewery also recycles all of its cardboard, glass, and aluminum. Goulet’s favorite sustainable process is the brewery’s nitrogen generator.

Photo Courtesy Birdsong Brewing Co.

“We produce nitrogen onsite and use it in place of carbon dioxide to transfer beer between tanks,” Chris explained. “This helps us reduce our greenhouse gas usage by over 25,000 pounds per year.”

Many businesses are seeing the economic and environmental impacts of switching to solar. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the United States solar industry installed 32.4 gigawatts of direct current capacity in 2023, a remarkable 51% increase over 2022. The Energy Information Administration says the country produced more than 3% of its total energy through solar last year. 

According to Spectrum News 1, North Carolina has more than 900 business-owned renewable energy projects, including 25 clean energy-powered breweries, distilleries, and wineries.

Photo Courtesy Birdsong Brewing Co.

“I hope we inspire other businesses to get them to think about the impacts of their businesses outside their customers, employees, and bank accounts,” Chris said. “Capitalism is really good at exploiting cheap or free resources. This set-up conflicts with our goal of a safe and predictable living environment. Small business owners are best positioned to make an impact.”


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