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Sustainable Alchemy in Vermont

October 03, 2017

The Alchemist Brewery Case Study

“When people walk in the door, their jaws drop,” said John Kimmich, co-owner and head brewer at The Alchemist Brewery. “The natural light, the energy efficiency of the building — it’s a church to beer.”

After eight years of success at their original location, co-owners John and Jen Kimmich decided to open a second Alchemist Brewery location to help meet their growing production needs. The vision for the new location was to break from fluorescent-lit monotony, to create a beautiful, inviting space for beer enthusiasts to come together, relax and enjoy the brewery’s nationally respected Heady Topper India pale ale (IPA).

Kimmich was determined to create a space that was as efficient and sustainable as it was alluring. “We wanted to make use of the natural light, while considering the environmental responsibility of the brewery,” he said. Kimmich recognized the impact of the beer brewing process itself, and the number of wash-down and boiling procedures involved, which often creates a humid environment.

It was critical to control humidity for the space, and keep the process equipment and floors as dry as possible, to avoid the possibility of patrons slipping and falling in the tasting room. Of course, creating a comfortable environment was also top of mind.

Environmentally-Friendly Efficiency

An 80-ton high-efficiency air-cooled Trane® CGAM scroll chiller was selected to meet the facility’s needs. Featuring onboard pumps with variable frequency drive, the chiller reduces energy use and creates a comfortable environment. Twenty-four feet above the production floor a Trane Performance Climate Changer® air handler with a CDQ™ (Cool, Dry, Quiet) wheel was also installed to handle dehumidification and space cooling demands. The system easily helps resolve The Alchemist’s humidity concerns, while keeping costs low.

Manning The Controls

A Trane Tracer® SC building automation system (BAS) was installed to maintain space conditions. With the web-based Tracer SC, facility staff at the brewery can access systems remotely with just a click on their smartphone or tablet. In between sending a text and making a phone call, staff can ensure temperature and humidity levels are as desired, check airflow rates, adjust setpoints, troubleshoot issues or conduct daily tasks.

“It is really cool to be able to monitor the building and turn things down at night,” said Kimmich. “We don’t have to worry that things run and run just because we forgot to go in that room and check it that night. You can log in to your computer, and make adjustments right there.”

Easy-to-use custom graphics on the Tracer SC provide a pictorial representation of the building systems. With a click of the mouse, brewery staff use the intuitive system to complete a building check, make overrides, change screens from one floor plan to another and interface with specific pieces of equipment. They can also look at data logs and trends to monitor system performance over time.

To accommodate the expansive floor plan, a Trane Air-Fi™ wireless system was used to connect the system controllers, unit controllers, air handlers, VAV boxes, fan coils and zone sensors, eliminating the time and expense of running conduit wire and preserving building aesthetics.

Cheers to Complete Solutions

As beer lovers took their first sips at the second Alchemist Brewery location, they were congregating in a complete design/build equipment and controls solution. The owners’ specific humidity, comfort and efficiency solutions were all humming away in the background as the beer flowed from the taps.

“The new facility lives up to our standards — the high standards that have gotten us to where we are today,” said Kimmich. With the facility’s environment taken care of, Kimmich and his team can get back to what they’re best at — “Turning matter into gold, that’s what we do.”

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