Natural gas savings grow as brewery expands
A growing contract brewer and co-packager in Waunakee is adding square footage, services and equipment while also maintaining a sharp focus on energy efficiency.
“We strive to stay a few steps ahead—that means offering a variety of quality products produced with the most efficient processes,” explained Isaac Showaki, owner of Octopi Brewing. “So, we invested in a system that can handle beverages ranging from cold-pressed coffee to Czech-style pilsner. And, our state-of-the-art packaging lines are some of the most efficient available, capable of filling multiple sizes of cans and bottles.”
Octopi built its 16,000-square-foot facility in 2016. “We have expanded almost every year since then,” said Showaki. “We monitor upcoming trends and what we need to adjust to meet customers’ changing needs. Oftentimes, that means we need more space to get the job done.”
By July, Octopi will reach 365,000 square feet, which is more than 20 times the size of the original facility. In addition to office space, this includes a quality control lab, production area, distribution area and taproom. The most recent addition is a new 200,000-square-foot distribution center located across the street.
Inc. magazine named Octopi the 67th fastest-growing company in the Midwest in 2021. Octopi also earned a spot on the publication’s 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States for 2019-2021.
Managing energy use
Conservation is a core value for Octopi, one that was incorporated in the company’s expansion process. The brewery completed several key projects resulting in natural gas savings:
- Installed a new 400-horsepower boiler with a stack economizer. The boiler supports the brewing, sterilization and pasteurization processes. With the addition of a stack economizer, the unit’s efficiency increases to 85%. The boiler also is equipped with a 10:1 turndown ratio on the burner, allowing it to run as low as 10% of total capacity. This helps save natural gas even at lower firing levels. The efficiency improvements on the boiler save an estimated 53,000 therms and $22,000 in natural gas costs per year. “We could have selected a less expensive boiler that would have met our needs,” said Showaki. “It was a no-brainer to go above and beyond in this case. It makes sense to spend a bit more on a boiler that is more energy efficient. The boiler we installed is better for the environment and will be less costly over time in gas savings.”
- Installed an energy efficient chiller with heat recovery. The chiller, which is used in the pasteurization process, produces a significant amount of heat from its compressors. This heat can be recovered from the chiller to offset a portion of the energy needed to heat water from ground temperature to the 150 degrees needed for brewing. The heat recovery system saves Octopi an estimated 7,400 therms and nearly $4,000 in natural gas costs per year.
- Added fiberglass insulation to steam pipes. This improvement reduces heat loss by 90%, saving Octopi 36,000 therms and $16,000 in natural gas costs annually. The project paid for itself in less than a year.
- Installed a direct-fired makeup air unit. Ventilation requirements specify the amount of outside air required to be brought into a facility. In winter, this outside air must be heated to match the space temperature. Direct-fired makeup air units are one way to accomplish this. While most units operate at 80% efficiency, Octopi purchased a unit that is 92% efficient. It saves more than 3,000 therms and $1,800 in natural gas costs annually.
FOCUS ON ENERGY®
provided Octopi with more than $50,000 in incentives to complete these gas-saving projects.
2022 Focus on Energy business offerings
MGE partners with Focus on Energy to provide technical assistance and financial incentives to businesses like Octopi. Financial incentives are available for a variety of improvements including:
- Building envelope
- Compressed air
- Industrial systems
- Renewable energy systems
- Space-heating and cooling systems
- Ventilation and controls
- Water heating
Learn more about Focus on Energy offerings at focusonenergy.com/business.