SUMANI Trendster Blog: Brewing a Sustainable Future: Elysian

Spring 2018 Project


As a team full of people who enjoy beer and are passionate about sustainability, Elysian project members were ready for the SUMA Net Impact project challenge.  Our client, Elysian Brewery, is a Seattle based brewery that is owned by Anheuser-Busch. Elysian wanted to update certain company practices to meet Anheuser-Busch’s new sustainability goals, therefore Elysian asked SUMA Net Impact for input. The scope of our work consisted of 1) providing a solar feasibility study to Elysian, 2) developing a renewable energy target and implementation plan, 3) defining sustainability metric guidelines, and 4) devising recommendations for a sustainability-focused marketing framework.

Team Elysian consists of members from diverse backgrounds where each member was assigned a specific part of the project based on backgrounds and interest.  Jenna Molloy, our team leader, is a SUMA student with a background in literature, and worked on the sustainability metrics with fellow SUMA student Evan Carfagno, who brings ecology expertise.  Majo Gutierrez and Dominic Bell, also SUMA students, bring their technology consulting and environmental science backgrounds to the team. Majo and Dominic are working on assessing the Solar Feasibility portion of the deliverables.  The marketing and communications members made up of SUMA and Climate and Society students Casey Plasker and Anastasia Almerini, both have a background in marketing.

 Casey, Dominic, Evan and Ana had different motivations for joining the team.  As a first semester student, Casey was looking for an opportunity to get to know her classmates and gain consulting experience from a sustainability position.  Dominic was excited to gain experience producing financial models for a real client and enhance his skills from modelling courses. Evan was interested in being more involved in opportunities at school and the ability to gain real client work experience.  As a Climate and Society student, Ana’s studies were very science heavy and her background in marketing was drawing her to more business-friendly projects. She was interested in learning from the SUMA students and gaining skills that a sustainability manager can offer.

Elysian project team had a successful semester with many positive outcomes. After our initial project scope meeting, we immediately got to work on our respective missions.  Majo and Dominic began to research government incentives that could apply to Elysian. These incentives can be considered when making the financial model to provide an estimated cost of solar installation and payback estimates.  Their goal is to map out where solar panels can be installed at Elysian and will create a design of the solar panel system and the financial model. Additionally, the team researched construction costs for solar panels to more accurately create the financial model.   Due to time constraints, only the most important construction considerations were included in the report which was 1) obtaining an electrical permit and 2) conducting a structural feasibility test.

The sustainability metrics and operations members’ were tasked with helping Elysian develop a plan to reach their sustainability performance goals and to effectively report them through sustainability metrics.  This process was initiated by researching industry best practices with regards to sustainability that can be tailored to Elysian. An interesting find was the waste reduction strategies utilized by other breweries such as Alaskan Brewery; Alaskan Brewery has not had to buy CO2, which is used to carbonate beer, for twenty years because of a CO2 recycler on their property.

The marketing team assessed how Elysian can use their unique brand to showcase new sustainability initiatives.  The goal is to combine sustainability messaging seamlessly into already existing marketing strategies. Casey and Ana created an outline of “must-haves” for Elysian such as creating a Sustainability Mission Statement and to enhance internal and external communications.  The largest challenge is that to present suggestions to Elysian, information from the solar feasibility and the sustainability metrics teams must be complete. Upon receiving this information, a suggested timeline and marketing methods were provided to Elysian to utilize in their shift to sustainability and beyond.

Overall there were a few key takeaways from this project. Project members developed a fundamental understanding of how to develop modelling and how to handle data constraints and enhanced client relationship skills important to the workforce.  Project members can apply their new project management skills in interviewing clients to develop a well-organized project scope. Of course, we now all know that we like Elysian beer for taste and positive impacts!


Written in collaboration with Team Elysian

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