Many Canadian vintners and wineries are working to reduce both our carbon footprint and reduce negative environmental impact. They are finding ways to reduce energy consumption, lessen dependency on pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, as well as lessen the need for water.
In the past I have discussed the impacts of climate change on the wine industry but today I will talk about the actual buildings and their design. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, is the most widely-used green building rating system in the world, available for virtually all building, community, and home-project types. In Canada LEED is a proven path to addressing climate change, and to creating buildings that are more resource-efficient, healthy and resilient.
LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health. This includes location and transportation, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
There are two wineries in particular that have been leaders in adapting change.
Stratus Vineyards, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Stratus was the first winery in Canada to earn LEED certification. In order to qualify for LEED certification, the winery had to meet numerous criteria that reduced the negative impact on the environment both during construction and on a permanent, operational basis.
The facility was designed in a way to minimize the amount of equipment needed and where possible it is designed in a way where it can be reconfigured in response to the need. Even the table where the grapes are sorted can be set up in at least 17 different ways.
The winery was built using recycled materials where possible. The building also includes a super-insulated roof and geothermal heating and cooling. There is a resource and energy efficient electrical and plumbing system as well as a toxin-free waste management program.
They also chose native plants and flowers for the landscaping because they can thrive without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Even the pavement for the parking lot was made of stone that reduces light-reflected heat.
Tantalus Vineyards, Kelowna
Tantalus takes great care in everything they do, from farming to winemaking. Riesling is the real focus but their Pinot Noir shines as well.
Being a successful winery and needing to increase production, Tantalus found themselves in a situation where they needed to replace their original building. The new facility earned them the distinction of being British Columbia’s first LEED-certified winery.
The building is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. There are natural sky lights, an unpaved driveway and parking area to avoid heat reflection and a highly efficient dual-exchange heating and cooling system. The wine shop features custom handcrafted wooden cabinetry sourced from native Alder and the landscaping surrounding the winery has been planted with bee-friendly flowers and shrubs.
The wastewater treatment system processes the winery’s effluent and domestic sewage. It is the first of its kind for a British Columbia winery and allowed them to be completely non-reliant on municipal or private waste disposal providers.
LEED certifications is just one way of helping preserve and protect our environment. Both of these wineries, along with many others, are also following sustainability practices and some are even aiming to convert to dry-farming. One thing for certain is that the wine industry is helping to lead the way to improve our environmental health.