“Energy is our elixir of life — and green energy makes it happen!” Gabriela Maria Straka, for Green Brewery Göss

The Green Brewery Göss won the 2016 Business and Ctizens’ EU Sustainable Energy Awards.

Driven by consumers’ demand for “green” beer, it is a pioneer in sustainable brewing. The brewery uses electricity from hydropower, biomass district heating, solar thermal energy and a newly-built beer grain fermentation plant.  It aims to become the first major brewery in the world to produce beer using only renewable energy and reduce its fossil fuel CO2 emissions from the process to nearly zero.

Gabriela Maria Straka heads the Department of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Brau Union Austria, which owns the Green Brewery Göss and is part of the Heineken Group.  She tells us more.

What was the impact of receiving a Sustainable Energy Award for your project and organisation?

Green Brewery Göss received a lot of attention from all the relevant stakeholders. I was asked to tell the story of “green” beer time after time. More recently, the project has been honoured many times — for example, the brewery has received the Energy Globe Austria.

EUSEW has had a big impact. Being a EUSEW winner means that everybody now knows what we are about. I have recently received an invitation from a renowned Australian Congress Centre to share my Austrian CSR experiences with Australian experts. So Green Brewery Göss is going from Austria to Australia!

How has your project developed since you received your Awards?

At Green Brewery Göss we aim to be a role model for carbon neutral brewing. We want to make this happen in all our breweries around the world and to keep working towards being as strong as an example as possible.

This is a continuous process. In particular, we put a lot of effort into our information-dissemination to all stakeholders. We are especially proud of the fact that the brewery’s spent grain fermentation plant allows it to run all its operations with a carbon neutral footprint — and that it is the first large brewery in the world to do so.

In the Heineken Family, we follow the ‘Brewing a Better World’ approach — sustainability is one of our key business priorities. The Göss Brewery serves as a beacon in this context, and we are happy that even the EU has taken positive notice of the company.

Do you plan to attend EUSEW this year, and if so what do you hope to get out of? Do you have a message for other projects that might be thinking of attending?

Yes, I would really like to come to EUSEW again. But it depends on my calendar, which is very full. As a EUSEW winner you are always asked to a lot of activities, to act as a speaker, to take part as a best-practice coach, etc.

Our ultimate goal was the transformation of the Göss Brewery into an entirely carbon neutral operation. Energy is our elixir of life — and green energy makes it happen!   With the commissioning of the spent grain fermentation plant, we have now achieved this goal.

As the largest brewing group in Austria, we are aware that we have a major responsibility to society, our customers, consumers and employees. Beer is a natural product and is made from raw materials, which in turn, require an intact environment. For this reason, we have a particularly strong commitment to protecting the environment and fighting climate change. We find it rewarding that our sustainability efforts were recognised by the jury – including across industries and on a European level.

“EUSEW has had a big impact. Being a EUSEW winner means that everybody now knows what we are about.”