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Women's Lifestyle Magazine

Local Brewery Creates Beer to Honor John Ball Zoo's Conservation Efforts

Jul 07, 2020 03:37PM ● By PRESS RELEASE

GRAND RAPIDS MI – John Ball Zoo is teaming up with renowned beer maker Brewery Vivant to create a beer, entitled the "JBZ," highlighting the institution's work on conservation and specifically focusing on shared values of the two organizations around sustainability and conservation. 

Brewery Vivant President Kris Spaulding states, "As a company focused on sustainability, we have been impressed with the initiatives that the John Ball Zoo team has been implementing and we are excited to draw attention to the importance of water quality for our community through our partnership. It was a natural fit to work together.” 

The idea for the beer itself came from casual conversations about what it would look like to have the organizations work together. “When thinking about what kind of beer we wanted to make for this collaboration our minds went immediately to a smooth drinking lager,” says Vivant’s Creative Director Jon Ward. “We also wanted to make it distinct and connected to local agriculture. We decided to dry hop with Michigan grown Chinook hops to make JBZ pop with aromas of summer” Ward adds. “It’s a crisp and easy-drinking summer beer with aromas of swaying pine trees, pineapple, and refreshing citrus.” 

The JBZ beer will be on draft at various locations at the John Ball Zoo as well as at Brewery Vivant, located at 925 Cherry Street SE in Grand Rapids beginning July 9th. The beer will also be packaged in 16oz cans that will be available for takeout through Brewery Vivant and John Ball Zoo retail outlets later this summer. 

“Creating such a partnership with Brewery Vivant made the most sense given our shared values in conservation, sustainability, and community. Creating such a program brings awareness to generations that might not be as knowledgeable about the zoo's conservation efforts,” said John Ball Zoo CEO Peter D’Arienzo. “Together, we hope this partnership brings greater awareness not only to the importance of water quality for wildlife but also for the community.” 

In the past year, the zoo has taken more significant steps to elevate its sustainability efforts even further. 

With a focus on conservation, John Ball Zoo designed and built a habitat that is SITES centered, and has a goal to be certified in the summer of 2020 with SITES’ Gold Certification. This certification will make John Ball Zoo the first zoo in the country to receive this and the first 2.0 v SITES in Michigan! 

The Sustainable SITES Initiative is a comprehensive rating system for developing sustainable landscapes, similar to LEED. By building a meerkat habitat to SITES certification, the zoo is reducing water demand, filtering and reducing stormwater runoff, providing wildlife habitat, reducing energy consumption, improving air quality, improving human health, and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities. John Ball Zoo is achieving these through manual irrigation on an as-needed basis using 100% native plantings. Some of the plants are growing from locally harvested seeds from Plaster Creek Stewards. JBZ is utilizing rain gardens and leaching basins for stormwater. Along with being aesthetically appealing, the zoo has also installed a green roof and solar panels on the canopy to offset outdoor lighting needs. And, whenever possible built with recycled content. Plus, there are no CO2 emissions through the use of an ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilation unit). 

Another major sustainability-based project is the pursuit of the Living Build Challenge (LBC) certification. LBC is the world’s most rigorous green building standard. It is a holistic approach to building that takes into account the life cycle impact of design, construction, and operations. It focuses on regenerative design maximizing the positive impacts to place, community, and culture. For example, the materials from the leveled former guest services building must either be reused, salvaged, or recycled. Not a single drop can end up in a landfill! 

This project at John Ball Zoo is currently the first and only commercially registered Living Building Challenge project in Michigan. One of this project’s major highlights is the ability to manage a 100-year rain event. The goal is to divert stormwater coming from the Zoo where it will be filtered to remove oil, debris, and sediment. This water will then replenish the Zoo’s pond, where in the past city water was used to maintain its level. 

All projects at John Ball Zoo since 2012 have been installed with stormwater leaching basins to recharge the water on site. In fact, all the stormwater from the new expansions in the Upper Realm, along with the Gift Shop, is contained on-site to recharge the groundwater and is kept out of the City’s stormwater system. Since 2002 the John Ball Zoo has saved more than 731 million gallons of water. 

Brewery Vivant is a Certified B Corporation and the world's first LEED-certified commercial microbrewery. Their commitment to water conservation includes capturing all stormwater runoff onsite, reducing water usage through waterless and low flow fixtures, recapturing process water during beer production, as well as training pub and brewery staff members to keep a close eye on opportunities to reduce or eliminate water usage. 

“And beginning with our shared connections to water, which is a focus for the West Michigan region and the entire world, this is a deliberate move to help people realize that what we choose to do in our own backyard right here at home can, in fact, change the world,’ added D’Arienzo. 

The beer will be sold at John Ball Zoo during regular business hours as well as at special events held at the zoo. It can also be purchased by visiting Brewery Vivant or by purchasing cans at the pub or through their online ordering system once the packaged beer is available later this summer. The public can feel good that supporting the beer will also help support a good cause as Brewery Vivant will make a donation to water conservation and sustainability efforts based on the success of the beer.