Jason Spaulding and his wife Kris opened Brewery Vivant in 2010 with a plan to bring Belgian-style beer to the Grand Rapids area. The brewpub was built and designed with green practices in mind, and they aren’t slowing down. Now in 2023, there are more comprehensive sustainability strategies in place.
Vivant’s location is an old structure — a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership built in 1924. Before that, it was a lumber yard. The storefront was a former funeral home built in 1947. The dealership is the site of the production facility today.
In 2012, it earned silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and Vivant was a certified B-Corp in 2014.
Its water and energy conservation efforts and LEED status stood out the most.
The sustainable practices at Vivant are abundant. It has high-efficiency heating/cooling units with carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors, saving more than 7% of the brewery’s energy requirements in brewing. A glycol cooling system for the tanks was “up-sized slightly so it could also cool the cooler” the draft beer comes from.
All rainwater runoff is captured in a cistern and sent into the ground to naturally filter back into the groundwater. The Grand Rapids wastewater treatment plant is less strained thanks to this innovation. No potable water is used to water the landscaping around the pub and beer garden.
Photo Courtesy Brewery Vivant
When renovating the production space, no extra resources were used. The concrete floors were polished, saving money on materials, construction, and other costs. Vivant notes the polished floors give the pub a cool look. All plumbing fixtures are low flow, saving around 50,000 gallons of water a year.
Vivant has a plethora of goals they hope to achieve. One includes utilizing 10% onsite renewable energy for beer production. According to the 2022 brewery sustainability report, it has managed to get to 6.1% of total power generated. A list of its CO2 emissions was included in the report, with the total number of Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions shared in it. The goal is to lower them yearly.
The brewery was a smidge higher than 2021 for greenhouse gases in 2022. It also exposed how dining options contributed to the emissions.
Other goals include buying food from within Michigan. The goal is 50%; in 2022, they managed to source around 44.2%.
This effort is also part of the local economic stimulation goal Vivant has. The brewery wanted to reach 75% of all purchases from within Michigan. They managed 65.7% in 2022.
“Our company uses its resources to source from suppliers that are local with an emphasis on those owned by underrepresented persons such as women and POC,” the report stated. “This is an area that we need to focus more attention on as opportunities arise for new supplier relationships.”
Photo Courtesy Brewery Vivant
Vivant is a member of the Michigan Brewer’s Guild and Brewer’s Association. The goal is to make craft breweries more welcoming for people from all backgrounds. Both Jason and Kris served in these respective organizations.
The brewery has several partner beers contributing to good causes in Michigan and nationwide. GRRRRock, a Nordic IPA from Broad Leaf Brewing (which the Spauldings also own), supports GRGR, a rock band camp that teaches girls and queer youth about music and self-worth.
Vivant and Broad Leaf also brew the Black is Beautiful imperial stout, the Black empowerment campaign started by Weathered Souls Brewing in Texas. The Werk Boots by Guardian Brewing and the company supports LGBTQ issues. There’s also the Anyuta to support UNICEF efforts in Ukraine. This effort was a collaboration with Field & Fire, a cafe in Grand Rapids.
“Beer the Change” is the name of Vivant’s 2022 sustainability report. It’s a play on a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that has inspired the owners: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The brewery appears to be well on its way with the sustainability goals and charitable contributions it continues to implement.