I've heard about Franconia before. "Somewhere in McKinney, there is this cool local brewer a guy from Germany runs. They offer tours of their brewery and tasting events weekly."
Of course we did the tasting, but an hour before a regular beer tour on one Saturday, Dennis showed us, NTREG (North Texas Renewable Energy Group), around his energy efficient brewery.
His brewery does not generate trash.
Until recently, there was no dumpster on site.
Current dumpster is for glasses and cups, not for beer brewing operation. It gets emptied rarely.
He uses steam from brewing operation to make all needed hot water via heat exchanger. No HWH.
He has 20 kW solar carport, which supplies most of his electricity needs. No battery yet, but Green Mountain helps to mitigate that.
Used vegetable oil generates supplemental electricity when needed. Perfectly Green in McKinney manages the micro-power system shown behind Dennis.
Beer cooler section of his brewery has foam insulation with R value of 55. If power were gone for a long time, the cooler could stay in chilling temperature for three days.
We expected nothing but great tasting German beer from his operation and did not get disappointed.
My latest water/utility bill shows only a quarter is charged for water usage. (This, of course, means reducing water consumption would help little to lower my water bill. Not a good system to encourage people to conserve water, but that's a different discussion.)
More than half of the bill is for sewer. For anyone who wants to reduce his water bill, now is the time to act. Why? Because Plano uses "Water Quarter Average" to calculate your sewer rate and apply that for the entire year. Details are here and here. Basically, how much water you use during last three winters, including current, will determine how much sewer rate you pay for the coming year.
My sewer rate is high because I enjoy taking a hot bath in the cold winter night. That Japanese habit is not something I want to give up easily...I need to figure out other ways to use water less.
When opportunity like this comes up I won't pass up. Although I am in cleantech and energy, not in food, my son, sister-in-law, and niece are working in nutrition and food fields. And in a big picture - food, energy, environment - everything is interconnected. Knowing what's going on in other fields won't hurt.
The program was keynoted by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow who authored 2014 Farm Bill which represented $1 trillion in spending over 10 years. I don't know much about this bill and its implications. But I heard it was a long-stalled bill that passed on a rare bipartisan vote (68-32) this spring while most everything else was gridlocked in Capitol Hill.
"Ability to build coalitions to get things done" is what she is known for, her bio says. That's an undervalued but very much needed ability to improve anything and tackle any problems we face.