A brass mash tun for beer brewing.

There are some interesting fields in water, energy and waste, and David Schneider is standing in its nexus. One of those fields is brewing — of the beer variety.

David is a business development professional with deep expertise in environmental services. With experience in water treatment, smart grid, biofuel and more, he is actively speaking on water reuse, wastewater treatment and clean energy innovation in the food and beverage industry.

Stone Brewing, based in California, has partnered with the city of San Diego on a limited beer run made with recycled water. This sustainable water-saving initiative is a great example of the Water-Energy-Waste Nexus. Here’s how David views this growing field and how cities are increasingly using food waste to create renewable energy that supports the water treatment process.

Why is the ‘Water Energy Waste Nexus’ so important?

David: The “water, energy and waste nexus” is a term that is thrown around a lot, and it really comes down to the fact that, in California, around 20 percent of the state’s energy is consumed by operations that purify and distribute our water resources.

This is a tremendous burden on the electric system and there’s a huge opportunity to reduce that burden with efficiencies across the system. All resources have limitations, and the essential resources of water and energy need an effective systems-level approach to integrate them. Veolia aims to be part of this circular economy by turning what was considered waste into energy, and closing the loop.

David Schneider, Veolia North AmericaWhat are the major opportunities in this nexus?

David: We’re only scratching the surface right now. There are so many concepts out there, between distributed and centralized systems, both in energy and water. Traditional infrastructure is built around a centralized approach, but now, cities like San Diego and Los Angeles are looking at opportunities to create distributed water systems.

You can’t rely on one or the other; there’s an optimal combination of both that can be deployed. We’re just starting to see the integration of water, energy and organics, and this is where we’re going to see really holistic solutions.

Where has the most progress been made? How does beer fit into this nexus?

David: Facilitating this nexus means we need municipal leaders, at the local, state and federal levels. They must all be in alignment so we can achieve these really strategic goals. In California, agencies like the Air and Resources Board, and a functioning cap and trade system, really support the regional initiatives led by large cities like San Diego. Then, large generators of waste, like Stone Brewing, can act as participants and stakeholders in what the vision should be.

San Diego’s Pure Water program is a great example of a resource recovery program with indirect potable water visioning that will rely on renewable power from biogas and landfill gas. It may eventually incorporate an advanced organics recycling program to generate more power as organics are eliminated from the landfill. Having all of these things come together on the regulatory side, as well as industry cooperation for holistic viewing, helps us to arrive at the best solution for ratepayers.

How can businesses get involved or prepare for water-, energy- and waste-constrained economies?

David: It really comes down to regional and municipal governmental leadership to facilitate these strategies. The combination of centralized and decentralized approaches means that participation with all the players connected to the water infrastructure is necessary. To get businesses to participate, the municipality needs to reach out and organize stakeholder groups. Here in San Diego, there are 140 licensed craft breweries, and they really are the leaders in sustainability. As a large customer, Stone already had this relationship with the city which allowed them to interact in a meaningful way. Both parties saw the possibilities and came up with a truly forward-thinking solution.

David’s latest events have been the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Municipal Waste Management Association. See how food and beverage manufacturers can help their communities reduce their carbon footprint and operate more sustainably below:


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