At Palatin Remodeling, Inc. we’ve been trying to focus a bit more on sustainability and this gave us the inspiration to see how other businesses are pursuing corporate sustainability. I spoke with Melissa Dombo, the Creative Projects Manager at Karl Strauss, about how the brewery is taking steps to be more sustainable. Read Part 1 here. (The quote pictured hangs on a wood partition in the office and reads, “He was a wise man who invented beer.” -Plato)
One of the most impressive features of the Karl Strauss corporate office is the wood conference table. Made from reclaimed wood and steel and designed by Public Architecture and Planning (who is also helping design a tasting room at the main brewery) exclusively for Karl Strauss, the table seats at least fourteen, although more regularly gather around it. The table is perfectly centered in the conference room, a lucky break considering the table was designed around pre-cut boards fit into a steel frame and stand sourced from a defunct bakery. In the very center of the table a rectangular hole is cut and a sort of drawer, topped with glass, holds miniature models of buildings, including a Karl Strauss building, make from reclaimed pieces of wood and old gears. The only part of the giant conference table that isn’t repurposed is the piece of glass that covers the models.
On the walls throughout the building hang old Karl Strauss pallets. Screwed right into the walls, the pallets function as shelves to display beer bottles. The pallets were taken from the restaurants because they could no longer perform their original function, but all it took was a few screws to fix a board here and there and attach it to the wall. No refinishing was needed for these pallet shelves, which was amazing because they look perfectly vintage and they’re the perfect size for holding beer bottles. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending how you look at it – their broken pallets are few and far between and aren’t available outside the corporate office (it was such a cool idea I had to ask!).
A less apparent practice Karl Strauss values is recycling paper, menus and beer packaging. As is imaginable for such a large office, Karl Strauss has the potential to go through plenty of paper so they make sure to recycle as much of it as possible. Old menus are repurposed or shredded to create protective filler for shipping and the 6-pack beer packaging is made from recycled paper. The employee dining room is also as sustainable as possible: water pitchers with Brita filters in the fridge reduce plastic water bottle use, a collection of washable plates and silverware means no paper products are used, and if an employee brings paper, plastic or glass products there’s a recycling bin for that.
The corporate office gets as many materials and decorations from donations as possible so new materials aren’t used and costs are saved, such as the TV and PlayStation in the lounge, and real barrels are repurposed into coffee tables, one of which is painted with a checker’s board. Their photos around the building aren’t just from the restaurants, they were actually taken in house at the restaurants, keeping everything within the company. The dining tables in the dining and lounge areas are also old tables from the restaurants, saving them from the landfill, and the corporate office made use of several other shelving and storage units that the restaurants no longer had a need for.
The big lesson Karl Strauss learned is that being dedicated to environmental sustainability is a great thing for business, which is one reason why it’s so important to the company. Not only do craft beer lovers appreciate a local company that’s committed to keeping the planet healthy (because craft beer lovers are cool like that), but incorporating sustainable practices actually saves the business a lot of money. By using energy efficient lighting and appliances where possible in all buildings and solar lighting in the corporate office, recycling as much paper, glass and food waste as possible, and repurposing furniture for brand new uses, Karl Strauss is reducing their costs significantly which in turn helps them to focus more of their effort and finances towards brewing great craft beer. The company embraces a true win-win scenario: environmentally friendly practices are great for the planet, save the business money, and are appreciated by consumers. There truly is no downside to corporate sustainability, as Karl Strauss Brewery has discovered.
All photos by Rich Soublet Photography.