Sarah on April 19, 2013 1 Comment With Earth Day just around the corner, images of recycling bins and newly planted trees dance around my head. Earth Day is a time to recognize all that is done to preserve our delicate planet, as well as a time to prepare, generate, and embark on impending initiatives. Wine, perhaps the embodiment of excess, isn’t typically thought of in regards to sustainability, but recent industry advancements in both production and overhead definitely deserve a big green thumbs up. LEED Certified Wineries LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a third-party framework for developing, implementing, and maintaining green building designs. In order to become LEED Certified, a building must earn a minimum of 40 points on a 110-point scale. The main categories in which points are earned are: Sustainable Sites Water Efficiency Energy & Atmosphere Materials & Resources Indoor Environmental Quality A number of U.S. Wineries in the Willamette Valley and Napa Valley wine growing regions have acquired this prestigious certification for their innovative and green designs. Willamette Valley, Oregon Sokol Blosser, the first U.S. winery to receive a LEED Certification, was awarded a Silver Certification in December of 2002. Sokol Blosser keeps its barrels cool without using any air conditioning and receives one-third of its energy from solar panels. Stoller Family Estate was the first U.S. winery to earn a Gold Certification in April of 2006 for their innovative incorporation of gravity, solar energy, nighttime air and water reclamation into the winemaking process. The Torii Mor Winery was awarded its Gold Certification in April of 2010 for its use of solar panels and gravity-flow, as well as less noticeable design innovations such as low-flow water faucets. Napa Valley, California In February of 2007, Frog’s Leap Winery of Napa Valley received a Silver Certification for its geothermal system and avoidance of toxic chemicals in its building materials. HALL St. Helena, awarded a Gold Certification in July 2009, uses solar panels as well as radiant flooring and was able to cut water use by a whopping %40. Cade Winery, where 60% of the property is kept natural and recycled galvanized steel significantly reduces the amount of maintenance needed, received a Gold Certification in April 2010. These wineries represent a much larger community of growers, producers and consumers who are working towards sustainability. With Earth Day around the corner, let’s focus on ways you, the wine lover and consumer, can do your part– one glass of wine at a time. Recycle Whether you recycle in the common sense or the creative sense, it is important not to contribute to the wine industry’s already alarming rate of waste buildup. Use your bottles and corks for decoration! Corkboards and wine trees are a fun and personalized way to turn your wine drinking into gift-worthy art. Drink Kegged Wine Kegged wine is a growing industry trend that completely cuts out waste from bottles and corks. Wine dispensing systems are a great investment, environmentally as well as economically, for small business owners or for those who love to entertain large parties. Use Thermoelectric Wine Refrigerators Wine refrigerators that use thermoelectric cooling rather than compressor-based cooling not only consume less energy but they also use absolutely no ozone-depleting chemicals. Whether you are a wine drinker or producer, join in this Earth Day by visiting a LEED Certified winery, saving your bottles and corks for a craft project, drinking kegged wine, making the decision to purchase a thermoelectric wine refrigerator or simply by placing your used wine bottle in the recycling bin. Enjoy!