Monte Creek Is Saving Energy, Saving $, And Creating A Team Committed To Sustainability

Monte Creek is Saving Energy, Saving $, and Creating a Team Committed to Sustainability

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Monte Creek Winery has been engaging in a number of conservation strategies that have led to decreases in both their electricity and their fossil fuel consumption. Not only is this environmentally beneficial, but it has also led to substantial savings on their energy bills. Winemaker Galen Barnhardt notes “We’ve made some good strides towards our goal of reducing our per case energy consumption by 25% by 2025. We know we’ve still got a long way to go, but we just keep chipping away at it. Sustainability seems to be something that all of our departments are quick to band together on, I think it’s something people feel good about. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, we’ve also been saving a few thousand dollars a year in energy costs by making some pretty simple changes.”

Monte Creek began tracking their propane, gas, diesel, and electricity usage through the use of a spreadsheet in 2016. By tracking their usage, they were able to determine which strategies were effective in reducing energy usage. Propane and electricity usage were easily determined through their billing cycle, and gas and diesel usage by vehicles is determined through simple vehicle logs, which are then compiled into the database. This satisfied the SWBC essential criteria (C.1) of establishing an energy consumption baseline.

One of the first steps that Monte Creek took to begin reaching their target was to implement basic standard operating procedures aimed at eliminating wasteful or unnecessary vehicle and equipment usage. Hospitality staff received written instruction regarding under what conditions to utilize patio heaters, rather than leaving them on all day during cooler weather. An SOP required staff to announce whenever they were making trips to the Okanagan or Vancouver, so that other departments could advise if they needed supplies picked up or dropped off, reducing the number of trips made – this step helped to satisfy one of the continuous improvement criteria regarding Climate Action (E.7). Another SOP enforced an anti-idling policy for all equipment – the manufacturer’s guidelines were referenced and the SOP outlined the appropriate warm up time for each individual piece of equipment. No-idling policies and posting no-idle signage in delivery areas is another continuous improvement criteria in the winery SWBC standards (E.6). 

Other opportunities for fossil fuel savings circled around the movement of staff around the farm. The Monte Creek Ranch property is quite sizable at 900 acres, and walking from one end to the other was inefficient and time consuming for workers. Accordingly, vineyard workers were provided with bicycles to move around the property, and when a vehicle was required, workers were encouraged to use ATVs rather than full size vehicles, as they are more fuel efficient.

Monte Creek has also made strides in reducing their electricity usage. Though the winery building is relatively new and was designed with efficiency in mind, opportunities still existed to save money and energy. The tasting room and offices are on programmable thermostats, these thermostats are programmed to 22 C in the summer and 18 C in the winter in order to minimize differences between outdoor and indoor temperatures. “We realized that with the amount of traffic coming and going in the summertime that the tasting room temperature was rising during the day no matter what the AC was set at, and then cooling down at night,” says Galen. “We ended up raising the set temperature so that there was less fluctuation – it’s easier on the wines and saves electricity as well.” Staff use small personal heaters on particularly cold days, which are more efficient than heating the entire office space to more typical indoor temperatures. They also modify the temperature of their case goods storage according to the season, setting it at 18 C in the summer and down to 13 C in the winter.

Article written for SWBC Newsletter, Nov.2020 by Katie Pease, Program Manager SWBC