Maximizing Energy Efficiency, Saving Money, and Cutting Carbon Footprint – Views of Anna Brittain (NAPA GREEN)

“With great power comes an even greater electricity bill.”


Napa Green is a leading sustainable winegrowing certification in the U.S., and one of only four programs nationwide offering the opportunity for comprehensive sustainability certification in both the Winery and Vineyard. We have 85 Napa Green Certified Wineries and over the past 5+ years we have helped these members save more than 14 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and over $4 million in energy costs. Here is how we have achieved this, and some of the insights we have gained along the way.


Most wine industry sustainability certifications recommend that wineries do an energy audit, but it is rarely realistic for a winery to do this themselves. The majority of wineries would need to hire a consultant, which is a significant investment. In 2016, realizing that this was roadblock, we designed an “Integrated Resource Audit” – a one-stop energy, water and waste audit led by a facility engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the beverage industry. Since that time, we have facilitated over 160 winery audits.


We baseline and track each winery’s resource use (kWh/case, gallons of water/gallon of wine, diversion percentage) and show them how they measure up relative to their Napa Green peers. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” We provide custom recommendations on how they can improve resource efficiency, and if there are any rebate or incentive opportunities, we also connect them with the organizations who can facilitate these savings.


Thinking Systematically

Over the years we have found that it isn’t difficult to get winery teams engaged in improving energy efficiency. That is because the costs are clear – electricity, natural gas, propane are all expensive and these bills add up. However, when it comes to energy it is also important to think about it from a systems perspective. It takes a significant amount of energy to transport, heat, and treat water. While water may be cheap, the price is much higher when you consider water’s embedded energy cost. Anything a business does to save energy and water and reduce waste is all climate action, reducing their carbon footprint.


Reducing Your Bottom Line

Often, when vintners are considering Napa Green Winery certification, they are worried about high costs, assuming they will need to purchase and install new technology. In fact, we are focused on helping them save money and reduce their bottom lines. Many of the biggest opportunities aren’t shiny or sexy – during the Resource Audit much of our focus is on awareness, training, monitoring, and maintenance. One foundational example, which may not be true the world over, is that here in California there are different electricity rates/tariffs based on the type and timing of operations. While these rates should be reviewed annually, this is not on the radar screen of most wineries. As we have helped wineries to review their rates, we have identified dozens of rate change opportunities where a simple paperwork signature saves thousands (for a few larger wineries even tens of thousands) annually by shifting to the optimum rate.


Additional examples:

  • We have found that wineries that turn back their hot water temperature to 120-140° F when higher temperatures of 160-180° F are not needed for tank, barrel and bottling line sanitation typically save thousands of dollars a year on natural gas.
  • Proper machinery maintenance, such as checking scaling on evaporative condensers and proper settings, can both improve efficiency and increase the life of equipment.
  • We have seen many wineries with high nighttime base loads that they weren’t aware of – often there is equipment cycling on and off at night that doesn’t need to be active.
  • Something as simple as putting insulation around a glycol tank provides a notable gain in efficiency.
  • When it does come to installing new equipment there are often opportunities with a rapid return on investment. For instance, installing a Variable Frequency Drive on glycol pumps typically has an ROI of 6-18 months.


Don’t “Solarize” Your Inefficiencies

Installing your own solar array is a serious investment – both in cost and footprint. Energy efficiency and renewable energy often get conflated. In many instances, wineries install a solar array without first maximizing their energy efficiency (a much more affordable investment than solar). It is critical to ensure your operation is as efficient as possible before considering a solar array – this reduces the capacity of array needed to offset energy use, the area that the array has to cover, the amount of machinery that has to be maintained, all of which maximizes the financial investment. As Matthew Crafton, winemaker for Chateau Montelena, has noted, “Solar is glamorous, but it’s pushing the green ‘easy’ button. Real savings come in the details.”


Impressively, nearly half of our certified wineries have their own solar arrays. As we began doing the Resource Audits we were surprised to find how many wineries weren’t monitoring their arrays to make sure they were operating as designed and quickly catch any maintenance issues. Most solar arrays these days are tied to an online monitoring portal. Our first recommendation is that someone login minimum monthly to track performance relative to design projections. The most common issue we have seen are inverter failures – this has happened at probably half of our member’s arrays. If these failures aren’t caught and repaired quickly a winery can lose some or all of their solar production for several months. Here in California businesses with solar only receive a once annual “True-Up” bill for any electricity they use from the grid. We have seen too many of our members receive a True-Up bill for $10-20-30,000 more than they expected because they didn’t catch an inverter failure. Again, awareness and monitoring are essential.


Green Teams & Reinvesting Savings

We require that our Napa Green Wineries have a “Green Team.” For small wineries this may just be two or three people – the winemaker, facility manager, and lead purchaser for instance. There have to be team leads committed to ongoing data tracking, acting on this feedback, and working with the rest of the staff to ensure ongoing implementation of the certification standards and continuing improvement. The operations where we have seen the most success in improving resource efficiency have:

  • Engaged their teams
  • Let them know current performance
  • Shared the targets for reducing energy, water and/or waste
  • Asked for team suggestions and ideas
  • Acted on this input
  • Provided regular feedback on progress toward achieving goals

As one example, you can read about what was achieved at St. Supéry Estate.

Finally, as you realize and track energy savings, we recommend that the money saved be dedicated to reinvestment in ongoing improvement. After all, “Sustainability is a journey, not a destination.”

You can learn more about Napa Green and see our members at

An Article By Anna Brittain

Executive Director, Napa Green

Anna has worked locally, nationally and internationally on environmental management and policy with organizations ranging from the environmental economics think tank Resources for the Future in Washington, DC to the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Hanoi, Vietnam.

She has spent a decade facilitating and growing sustainability in the wine industry, with an expertise in communications and certification standards. She has helped lead the growth of the Napa Green program for over six years, and stepped into the position of Executive Director of the now independent non-profit in fall 2019.

Anna has a Master’s of Environmental Science & Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara and a BA in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Williams College.

Making the commitment to third party certification takes time and effort, but it is worth it to demonstrate our commitment to the community and to protect our watershed, our land and the air we breathe.​

Seeking third party auditors! Email for full details!
36 0
Have you been to Napa Green Certified @boeschenvineyards yet?
51 7
Team Green outing today at the stunning @boeschenvineyards as we celebrate big things that we can’t wait to share with you! 🌿
71 3
One of the main resistances to phasing out glyphosate is increased labor and equipment costs. However, the costs of herbicides and fertilizers have risen dramatically, so increased labor demands can be offset by reduced supply chain purchases. 

In addition, leaders like Grgich Hills Estate have shown that regenerative organic farming can be cost-effective. According to an analysis by Brotemarkle Davis & Co. LLP accounting firm, the average annual per acre cost of vineyard management in the Napa Valley is $14,800, with $3,800 in depreciation. At Grgich, they spend $11,000 per acre, with only $1,300 in depreciation due to the longer life of their vineyards. 

Learn from regional leaders about the practical costs, benefits, and ROI of herbicide-free, organic, and regenerative vineyard management.

Confirmed Speakers:
• Ivo Jeramaz, Grgich Hills
• Phil Coturri, Enterprise Vineyard Management & Winery Sixteen 600
• Brad Kurtz, Gloria Ferrer
• Brenae Royal, St. Supery
• Rebekah Wineburg, Quintessa

Register at the link in our bio.
77 1
“Storytelling is key… and sustainability is the most important topic in wine.”

Thank you @elinmccoy for an incredible and insightful conversation with @napagreen members about the stories most likely to capture journalists attention.
58 6
Thank you to all who attended our Future of Water Workshop yesterday at Napa Green Certified @silveroakcellars! 

Stay tuned for more from our luminary speakers @mimicasteel, @todmostero, @petergleick & our own @abrittain.
57 2
Join us for a special roundtable workshop with award-winning journalist Elin McCoy, global wine critic for Bloomberg News and US editor for the podcast The Wine Conversation, with listeners in 95 countries. 

Elin will sit down with a small group of Napa Green members (max 25 guests) and share her insights on the types of stories and pitches most likely to engage the media. In particular, she’ll focus on stories related to sustainable winegrowing, climate action, and social equity. 

Elin will speak and answer questions for about an hour. Then we’ll break into small groups to develop a story pitch, and come back together to present and get Elin’s feedback and input. This is a rare opportunity to get ideas and inspiration from a leading wine journalist. Register at the link in our profile.
35 2
Climate Action & Regenerative Agriculture! Our sixth pillar that encompasses all that we do at Napa Green. 🌼
47 8
Hear from Winery Program Manager @love.dream.breathe about Energy Efficiency & Savings, one of our pillars of sustainable winegrowing leadership
20 1
We want to sincerely thank everyone who donated either space, time or proceeds of bottles/food sold to Napa Green during Earth Month! We are a small non-profit that greatly relies on donations of these kinds and we’re so grateful for our supportive community. 

Let’s hear it for: 

📖 @karenmacneilco
44 6
Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion. Perhaps our most important pillar of our six pillars of sustainability leadership. 

Thank you for the beautiful description @growresiliently!
52 4
Register now at the link in our profile! 💦

May 23, 2024
Silver Oak Winery, Oakville
9:00 am - 12:15 pm

One of the most critical agricultural concerns with our changing climate, and more frequent & intense weather extremes, is precipitation and water availability. The good news is opportunities abound to optimize irrigation efficiency, and implement regenerative practices that improve soil health, water infiltration, and retention. 

Join us for The Future of Water, with highlights including a keynote from Peter Gleick, one of the world’s leading water experts, and Mimi Casteel, not only a viticulturist and winemaker, but also a forest ecologist with a vision for water resiliency.
26 3
Join us for The Future of Water Workshop, to explore our water future, with highlights including a keynote from Peter Gleick, one of the world’s leading water experts (all guests will receive a copy of Peter’s most recent book, The Three Ages of Water) and Mimi Casteel, not only a viticulturist and winemaker, but also a forest ecologist with a vision for water resiliency.

Wine grape quality is closely tied to the right amount of water, at the right time. One of the most critical agricultural concerns with our changing climate, and more frequent & intense weather extremes, is precipitation and water availability. We’ve swung from historic drought to atmospheric rivers. Our community has huge swaths of unmanaged, unhealthy forests full of non-natives and overrun by firs, amplifying fire risk and undermining one of the most critical systems for groundwater recharge.

The good news is opportunities abound to optimize irrigation efficiency, and implement regenerative practices that improve soil health, water infiltration, and retention. A watershed coalition has also formed in Napa County to pilot and model creek & forest restoration for localized water resiliency and climate cooling. 

Come learn more on Thursday, May 23rd at 9:00am at @silveroakcellars.
33 5
Sustainably sourced ingredients with Chef Sarah Heller 🌱 Purchase your tax deductible ticket to our Opus One x Napa Green dinner at the link in our profile!
54 5
You’re invited.. 

Full details may be found at the link in our profile. Cheers!
64 6
As we wrap up an amazing Earth Month, we want to thank you all for the support & for coming to see us at our events! 

Let’s keep the momentum going and remember that Earth Day is Every Day! 🌎
61 7