Location Grand Rapids, MI
Size 5,000 ft²
Completed 2010

Manufacturing facilities that focus on sustainability are hard to come by because the field is reliant on energy use. But Brewery Vivant, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, stands out in its community not only for offering great brews, but also for its commitment to the environment, which earned it LEED Silver certification of its facilities in 2012. The distinction made it the first commercial microbrewery in the world to receive LEED certification.

Kris Spaulding, Vivant’s sustainability director and a part owner alongside her husband, Jason Spaulding, says most of the challenges the brewery faces are equivalent to that of any microbrewery. However, decision-making tends to be more difficult when a company is looking at more than just cost. In the end, however, it can help. “We believe that considering the triple bottom line helps us make better and more informed decisions,” she says.


Owner Brewery Vivant
Real Estate Developer Locus Development

Culturally, it can be a challenge to keep staff trained and engaged with their sustainability goals, Kris says. Even goals such as putting waste in the right receptacles can be tough when employees are running around on a busy night in the pub. “With the naturally high turnover rate in the pub, this will always be somewhat of a challenge,” she says. “But if we are hiring the right people—those with passion for our values—it should become easier the more we get solid systems in place and make it obvious how we are performing to our goals.”

Vivant implemented a scoreboard in both the pub and the brewery to highlight major goals related to environmental, financial, social, and customer-satisfaction goals, and Kris hopes that keeping these numbers updated on a weekly and monthly basis will keep staff motivated. “It is really cool to see when our staff grabs on to sustainability and leads things on their own,” she says. “Our assistant brewer, Brian [Kuszynski], recognized that we weren’t recycling as much as we could be, so he contacted a local expert and recycling center, Tree Hugger [Recycling], to find out what they accept that the city program can’t.”


Certification LEED Silver
Water Low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, storm-water runoff released slowly
HVAC High-efficiency heating and cooling system
Materials Aluminum beer cans, reclaimed-wood furniture
Waste Sent to a local cattle farmer

The brewpub has adopted a zero-waste philosophy by composting food and paper waste and recycling all materials that are accepted by the city. This is in addition to partnering with the community to find ways to recycle material that is not easily recyclable. Due to Vivant’s commitment to the reuse/recycle method, the brewery’s waste is sent to a local cattle farmer.

Vivant has many goals for the future, including expanding its distribution to Chicago this summer. The brewpub is increasingly sustainable; next, Kris wants to partner with Vivant’s suppliers to work in tandem to make the entire process equally environmentally conscious.

The Details: Brewery Vivant

Site. Located in the historic East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Vivant Brewery was once a funeral home. The chapel is now the brewpub and retains much of the building’s original character. The site is close enough to downtown to be easily walkable and bikeable, and it sits on a local bus route.

Landscape. Keeping its plantings as efficient as its beer-making, native vegetation surrounds the brewery, requiring no irrigation. All storm-water runoff is also captured and slowly released into the ground to reduce load on the city’s wastewater-treatment plant.

Interior. Inside the brewpub, benches and tables are constructed from reclaimed wood that range in origin from old barn walls to fruit crates. Some pieces were created by a craftsman out of a single walnut tree. Polished concrete floors also saved on additional construction resources like tile, wood, and paint.

Shipping. All distributed brews are packaged in aluminum cans containing 68% recycled material that can be recycled and put back on shelves within 60 days. Cans also require less energy to transport; a one-ounce can is far less heavy than a six-ounce glass bottle.

Brewery Vivant