2016 – winter Issue

Crafting Great Collaboration

When New Belgium Brewing Company, headquartered in Fort Collins, CO, chose Interstates as electrical engineer for its brand-new brewery project in Asheville, NC, there were the typical goals of energy efficiency and timely job completion. An extra bonus was how collaboration and teamwork led to better project delivery. ?It?s a continuation of our success together in Fort Collins, and it?s translated well into this new facility in Asheville,? says Gabe Quesinberry, Operations Manager at New Belgium.

New Belgium?s east coast brewery project ? which includes an entirely new campus built on a former brownfield site ? will add capacity to the company?s distribution business on the east coast through producing up to 500,000 barrels of beer annually. Some of the company?s internal project goals were related to energy efficiency, using green materials and practices to achieve LEED certification, and being a good member of the community by utilizing local companies and contractors.

There were typical challenges relating to the type of project and specific equipment involved. ?There are a lot of different design considerations that go into a brewery project,? says Sam Fopma, electrical engineer at Interstates. ?The traditional production facility will need to make beer that is good and consistent and clean, but the brewery is also a destination for the public. Balancing wanting your facility to look really good and run well leads to some design trade-offs.? It was also complicated to coordinate the ?global? nature of the project, with equipment brought in from Germany, construction happening in North Carolina, New Belgium based out of Colorado, and Interstates working from Iowa. ?If you want to have a meeting with the people involved, at a minimum you?ve got to span three time zones,? says Fopma.

The electrical engineering team was focused on constructability and maintainability. ?One aspect we did particularly well on was interfacing energy efficiency metering into the electrical system to measure the client?s energy efficiency goals, which can be challenging when you are making beer,? says Fopma. Beyond the specifics of the engineering, relationships and collaboration amongst the many different teams were particularly important on this job. ?Since we had a preexisting relationship with New Belgium, we were able to convey the New Belgium way to other vendors, consultants, and contractors. It was all about collaboration ? nothing was too rigid, and you never felt like you couldn?t ask questions or talk to someone about a problem,? says Fopma. This openness in communication fostered efficient problem solving and ensured everyone was on the same page.

?The historical relationship between Interstates and New Belgium made the project even better. If design or construction issues arose, the collaboration was key in solving that,? says Quesinberry. New Belgium has high standards for its beer and for its vendors. ?They do a good job of taking advantage of expertise. They do that with their beer and they do that with their design, too,? says Fopma. Quesinberry, who looks forward to his first beer from the new brewery, says, ?We took 25 years of experience and what we learned in Fort Collins and put it into this new facility.? The campus is currently under construction, with a grand opening slated for August 2016.