Lawson’s Finest Liquids is celebrating Earth Day a few days early this year, unveiling plans this week for a 495-module solar canopy at its brewery and taproom in Waitsfield, Vt. Lawson’s Finest has partnered with SunCommon, an industry leader that has been providing solar energy solutions to clients in Vermont and New York since 2012. The fully-permitted project is already underway, and the brewery expects it to be completed this summer.
“We’re constantly looking at ways to reduce our environmental impact, and this exciting solar canopy project represents another important milestone in our sustainability journey,” said Sean Lawson, founder and CEO of Lawson’s Finest Liquids. “Investing in renewable energy is super important to us as a part of our Green is Grand initiative, and we’re proud to continually focus on efficiency, while taking innovative steps to minimize our impact in a resource-intensive manufacturing business. From harnessing the power of the sun to reduce our energy usage, to partnering with other businesses to responsibly recycle spent grain and other brewing byproducts, there are so many creative, eco-friendly solutions available to breweries these days.”
The Waitsfield brewery is already home to one rooftop solar installation, which provides about 10 percent of its electrical needs, but the new parking canopy will be a true gamechanger. Built with 495 solar modules (REC 375w), the solar array on the roof of the parking canopy will deliver over 215kW of power. The covered parking area will feature two long rows with spots for 40 vehicles and 10 charging stations for electric vehicles, adding to the four charging stations that Lawson’s Finest already provides to the public free of charge.
As Earth Day approaches, the Lawson’s Finest team has been hard at work on a variety of environmental initiatives. The brewery is one of the lead sponsors for Green Up Vermont, a nonprofit that runs the annual statewide cleanup event, Green Up Day. In addition to participating in Green Up Day on May 1, Lawson’s Finest will be giving all of its staff three hours of paid time off on April 30 to help pick up litter and debris near the brewery and taproom in Waitsfield.
Lawson’s Finest’s Social Impact Program, appropriately nicknamed “SIP,” features six different community initiatives, including the taproom’s Sunshine Fund. Lawson’s Finest pays its staff living wages with generous benefits that don’t require tips to supplement their income, so instead guests have the option to donate to a designated local non-profit organization. Through the SIP, Lawson’s Finest was able to donate over $307,000 to 77 different organizations in 2020. In January of 2021, they were able to present the Trust for Public Land with a $10,000 Sunshine Fund check, which ultimately helped them purchase land in central Vermont for conservation.
Similarly, through its Good Brews for a Cause initiative (within SIP), Lawson’s Finest was able to present a check of over $6,000 to the Kingdom Trails Association which helped them purchase conservation land in the Northeast Kingdom last year. The funds came from the sales of Lawson’s Finest’s special Kingdom Trails IPA, a beer it plans to bring back for the same cause in 2021.
Prior to teaming up with his wife, Karen, to launch Lawson’s Finest Liquids in 2008, Sean Lawson worked in forestry for 15 years. To this day, when he’s not brewing beer, Sean can be found at Mad River Glen, where he serves as the mountain’s founding naturalist program director.
To join Lawson’s Finest as a participant in this year’s Green Up Day, please visit Lawson’s Finest registration link.