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Carbon Neutral Challenge for Oregon Wineries

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Fourteen wineries accounting for 20% of Oregon wine production complete OEC's carbon neutral program and reduce their carbon footprint.

CNC logoFourteen wineries accounting for 20% of Oregon wine production complete OEC's carbon neutral program and reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2007 the Oregon Environmental Council and the Oregon Wine Board joined together to lead an initiative for Oregon wineries and vineyards to assess and reduce their carbon footprint, with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral. Fourteen Oregon wineries participating in the Carbon Neutral Challenge have completed their first year of the carbon neutral program.

This is a unique effort of businesses working voluntarily to reduce their carbon footprint, and the largest effort within the wine industry in the United States. Oregon wineries and vineyards — many of which have already adopted sustainable agricultural practices into their operations — recognize that climate change will have a significant impact on their ability to grow grapes and produce quality wines.

While the state’s wine industry is not a major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, it is directly impacted by climate change. The wine industry is the “canary in the coal mine” for climate change. By completing the first year of the initiative, these wine industry leaders are demonstrating the important role businesses play in reducing carbon emissions and providing leadership within the wine industry and beyond.

Fourteen wineries and vineyards have completed the carbon neutral program for 2009 and invested in a regional, verifiable offset. These are:

What does the initiative involve?

The Carbon Neutral Challenge Initiative provides tools to enable wineries/vineyards to reach the goal of becoming carbon neutral by first and foremost reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the extent economically feasible, and then incorporating carbon offsets to reach the goal of carbon neutrality.

The first step is to calculate the greenhouse gas (basically carbon/CO2) footprint for the winery and/or vineyard operation using a tool based on The Climate Registry’s requirements. Once the operation’s carbon footprint is established, it is easier to identify the source of the major emissions and develop a plan to reduce emissions.

The second step is to implement a plan to reduce carbon emissions in the winery operations by making smart, cost-effective investments and operational changes. Each winery should consider installing renewable energy systems on site. The Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit, federal tax credits and Energy Trust incentives provide financial assistance for renewable energy and efficiency upgrades. Energy Trust can support small wind, geothermal and hydro electric generating projects. Conversion to biodiesel (B99 or B50) fuel can also reduce emissions. Other investments such as lighting retrofits, tank insulation, and cellar space portioning are highly encouraged.

The final step is to take responsibility for the remaining emissions that cannot be reduced in a cost effective manner by purchasing carbon offsets. Wineries invest in regional and high quality carbon offset projects located in the Pacific Northwest and managed by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. The more the carbon footprint is reduced over time, the fewer offsets are required.

Who is providing support for this initiative?

The Oregon Environmental Council and the Oregon Wine Board welcome and appreciate the participation and support of Ecos Consulting for providing on-going technical assistance to the participating wineries, as well as funding provided by the Bullitt Foundation, Ecoworks Foundation, and Oregon Business Development Department.

For more information or to join the initiative, contact:

The Carbon Neutral Challenge Initiative

Andrea Durbin, Oregon Environmental Council

Hannelore Buckenmeyer, Oregon Wine Board

Hester Yorgey, Ecos Consulting

Mat Elmore, CNC Program Associate

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