Even on a packed night like the recent So-LEED Gold Party celebrating their historic certification, the Black Star Co-op brewpub produces less than one trash bag of garbage.
"You won't see a lot of garbage cans around Black Star," said Jeff Young, beer team leader at the co-op. "You just see bins where you put everything. That allows us to take all of the food and napkins – and even our plasticware is compostable, because we buy the special stuff – and put it in the compost. ... We make sure everything goes where it needs to go."
This attention to detail, from the plasticware to water collection in the brewery and efficient toilets and lightbulbs, has earned the building the second-highest distinction from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system awards basic, silver, gold, or platinum certification. Two other breweries are certified LEED silver: Brewery Vivant in Michigan and Peter B's Brewpub within a hotel in California. The Dell Children's Medical Center is an example of a LEED platinum building.
"I guess it's good for press to say that you're the first something, but what really matters to me is that people are starting to care," said Young. "Five or ten years ago, breweries weren't an industry that could be thought of as leaders in sustainability. ... The directive to be green came from our member owners, and so did the investment." More efficient and more expensive HVAC and plumbing systems increased Black Star's building costs by about $80,000, a hefty sum for a brewpub. "We had to ask more of our investors," he said.
Member owners at Black Star don't appear to be experiencing any buyer's remorse. At the time of this writing, a social media search turned up an excess of exclamation points and plans to drink about the LEED Gold announcement.
Ivy Le, a new and thirsty Austinite, hails from Dallas, but has been writing in Georgia for the last 11 years. Follow her on Twitter @UrbanHaiku.
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