Rebecca Waller-Davies finds out how Glenmorangie’s environmentally friendly bottling facility is helping it reposition itself within the whisky market
Companies frequently come under pressure to try harder and perform better when it comes to environmental or corporate social responsibilities and brands often need to reposition themselves within a certain market. When these two ambitions coincide any new environmentally friendly development must work to better a company’s image.
Whisky manufacturer Glenmorangie was purchased by the luxury goods group Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) in 2005. Formerly a family-owned brand specialising in producing supermarket own-brand whisky, the distillery was now part of a luxury empire.
Since then, the manufacturer has been working to align itself with the rest of LVMH. Its heritage headquarters in Tain, a small Highland town north of Inverness, were a permanent fixture but a new bottling facility was decided on. Glenmorangie needed a smaller, more bespoke site which allowed it to change its focus and adjust the brand.
Mark Brunton, environmental engineer at Glenmorangie, says: “We focused on core brands and needed a site that allowed us to react quicker and make a more high quality product - this site definitely allowed us to do that.”
Part of an existing industrial state west of Edinburgh, the Alba Campus in Livingston was the chosen location. The previous site had been constructed for another drinks company in the 60s. Built to cover the whole distilling process from supply to bottling, the land had to be broken and levelled before construction could begin.
Waste was managed out from this point forward. The contractor, Kier Construction, was given the remit to minimise waste to landfill and keep as much material on site as possible. Alasdair McFarlan, senior project manager, says: “We used lime stabilisation so all material could be kept on site.”
Glenmorangie consulted with BRE to come up with criteria for the new building and attempt to achieve an Excellent rating for BREEAM Industry.
The manufacturing sector has specific requirements when constructing a new site that many companies simply do not have to consider.
Mike Horner, managing director at project manager Blyth & Blyth, says: “The biggest challenge is with space planning because from the process point of view the design keeps changing. The client’s requirements change because processes change. But we had done these sorts of facilities before so we knew the industry and were prepared.”
The building’s use also affected how the processes are powered. Despite Glenmorangie’s wish to achieve BREEAM Excellent, three gas boilers capable of running isolated area were installed as opposed to a traditionally more environmentally friendly heat source option such as biomass.
Brunton was keen to further reduce energy once the facility was up and running and so devised a method of isolating costly compressed air (used in production and in heating and cooling systems). He says: “The production at our Alba site generally takes place between Monday to Thursday on a 12 hour day shift pattern. This means that the production halls are not used for around 60% of the working week and 70% of the seven day week.”
Brunton calculated that Glenmorangie was wasting 1,000 kWhs of electricity each week and therefore producing excess unnecessary carbon at a significant cost to the company. He proposed that air isolator valves were installed allowing air to the bottling halls to be switched off, first at weekends and then whenever the halls were not in use.
He adds: “Immediately we consumed far less electricity and the savings were shown to be even greater than had been predicted. I forecast that we have made an annual saving of over 78,000 kWhs of electricity and a CO2 saving of around 27 tonnes.” The payback for the project was a mere 16 weeks.
Glenmorangie state: ‘Our objective is to find a sustainable way to make our whisky.’ This ambitious target may not be fulfilled for some time – as Brunton says: “Distilling whisky is very, very energy intensive… as an industry we’ve still some time to go’ – but Glenmorangie’s pursuit of BREEAM Excellent processes and heritage brand restoration is a heady mix.
This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Greenbuild magazine. For a free subscription, click here.
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