Blogs, Events & News Insights from the field Beer from a Zero Carbon Brewery Sean Weaver, founder and CEO of Ekos. Background: Sean is founder and CEO of Ekos – an environmental financing consulting business focusing on indigenous forest carbon projects and zero carbon certification for organisations and products. He is an international expert in indigenous forest carbon and market-based mechanisms for environmental and climate financing. He is a former senior lecturer in Environmental Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, has a PhD in Forestry, and is based in Christchurch. Garage Project: Garage Project is a brewery based in Wellington, New Zealand. Since 2019 they have achieved Zero Carbon Business Operations Certification through Ekos, in turn supporting numerous Plan Vivo certified projects. A multi-coloured menagerie of empty Garage Project cans has taken up residence on a growing space on a long shelf at home here in Christchurch, New Zealand. I need to sample them for purely quality control purposes. Garage Project is a net zero carbon brewery and my company Ekos is its certifier. As part of the certification process I am forced (against my will) to sample their different varieties of tipple and save a trophy on my shelf. Hang on, I need to take another sample… this one is a ‘Venusian Pale Ale – canned on Venus’. Delicious. I don’t know the Venusian word for ‘delicious’, but I will look it up. The trouble is Garage Project keep releasing new craft brews and I keep having to add to my collection. Hang on, here’s another – Aro Noir Roasted Stout brewed with Summit and Chinook hops… silky. Yes, even beer has a carbon footprint. And because Garage Project genuinely care about climate change, they measure their carbon footprint and use this measurement to develop an emissions reduction plan. This enables them to reduce their emissions smartly by harvesting the low and medium-hanging fruit on the emissions reduction hop vine. The high fruit are impossible or prohibitively expensive to eliminate so they leave them where they are. If they stopped at this point, they would be worthy of accolades for reducing their carbon emissions as part of their core business. But they didn’t. They decided to go the extra distance. They take responsibility for the high-fruit emissions they cannot eliminate and voluntarily charge themselves a carbon tax by purchasing certified carbon credits to offset all these residual emissions. Garage Project founders Pete Gillespie and Jos Ruffell. Wait, here is another one to test… Progressive Infinite Iterations - a light pilsner malt and white wheat, spilling out in hazy hop-saturated fractal valleys of tangerine, while a double-spiral dry hop of Citra, Eclipse and Simcoe hops sends out spiralling loops of intensely aromatic tropical fruit, mandarin, and citrus… And Garage Project don’t just buy cheap “get out of jail free” carbon credits. They buy carbon credits priced high enough to function as a genuine incentive to continue reducing emissions and locking this price into the business finances. Another one? Ok. Hmmm… Hatsukoi Neo Tokyo Style Lager made with light malted barley and rice. Very nice, clean, and sharp and another mouth-watering one that passes the quality control test. Where was I? Oh yeah, carbon credits. So, Garage Project want to cause as much good as possible when they purchase their carbon credits. They decided on carbon credits from projects that help cause forest conservation, biodiversity protection, stream water quality protection, and climate change resilience. This is one of the reasons they came to Ekos, because we develop and support carbon credit projects that have these attributes. We supplied them with carbon credits from the Rarakau Forest Carbon Project in Southland, New Zealand. This project protects and enhances lowland, coastal rainforest on Maori land. Another sample: Trip Hop – very hoppy rich malty base meets big hop profile using German malts, NZ hops, and American yeast… it was awarded a silver medal in the British Ale Class at the NZ Brewers Guild Awards 2021. Smoothly bitter and succulent. Having moved to entirely renewable electricity suppliers, Garage Project offset their unavoidable carbon emissions through the purchase of high value carbon credits - supporting multiple Plan Vivo certified projects in the process. This rainforest carbon project was certified by the Plan Vivo Standard – in our view the world’s leading fair-trade styled forest carbon standard with a strong focus on community wellbeing, biodiversity conservation, and embedding kindness into a value chain. This is our favourite carbon standard and why we develop projects under this certification. We have developed projects certified to Plan Vivo in New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands, and plan to do many more in our own quest to help reduce emissions and build climate resilient, biodiverse landscapes for rural indigenous peoples. In this way, we enable progressive businesses like Garage Project to help vulnerable communities whilst restoring and protecting priceless ecosystems and waterways. This is a form of commercial conservation that is revolutionising conservation financing around the world. Instead of waiting for grants to fund forest restoration and community economic development, the private sector can just get on with it - as part of their net zero carbon business. This calls for a toast… please raise your glasses of craft beer to Garage Project and Plan Vivo. Delectable. Find out more about Ekos and their Plan Vivo certified projects here. Find out more about Garage Project and their sustainability commitments here. We'd like to thank Sean Weaver for taking time to write this guest blog.