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Zoo Brew! John Ball Zoo teams up with Brewery Vivant to create a beer

The new beer is called "JBZ" and highlights the zoo's work on conversation and sustainability.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Something is brewing at the zoo! 

The John Ball Zoo and Brewery Vivant have teamed up to release a beer on Thursday called "JBZ."

JBZ is meant to highlight the zoo's conservation and sustainability efforts through the years, as well as both organization's shared values. 

"As a company focused on sustainability, we have been impressed with the initiatives that the John Ball Zoo team has been implementing and we are excited to draw attention to the importance of water quality for our community through our partnership," Brewery Vivant President Kris Spaulding said in a press release. "It was a natural fit to work together."

The idea for the beer came from "casual conversations" about what the zoo and Brewery Vivant working together would look like. The JBZ beer will be on draft starting July 9 at various locations at the John Ball Zoo, as well as Brewery Vivant, which is located at 925 Cherry St. SE in Grand Rapids. 

The beer will also be packaged in 16 oz cans that will be available for takeout through Brewery Vivant and John Ball Zoo retail outlets later this summer. 

“Creating such a partnership with Brewery Vivant made the most sense given our shared values in conservation, sustainability, and community. Creating such a program brings awareness to generations that might not be as knowledgeable about the zoo's conservation efforts,” said John Ball Zoo CEO Peter D’Arienzo. “Together, we hope this partnership brings greater awareness not only to the importance of water quality for wildlife but also for the community.”

Based on the success of the beer, Brewery Vivant said it would make a donation to water conservation and sustainability efforts.

Credit: John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo, Brewery Vivant sustainability efforts

In the last year, the zoo has taken significant steps to elevate its sustainability efforts. 

The John Ball Zoo designed and built a habitat that is SITES centered. The Sustainable SITES Inititiative is a rating system for developing sustainable landscapes, similar to LEED. 

The zoo said its goal is to reach SITES' Gold certification by summer 2020. The certification would make John Ball the first zoo in the country to receive it and the first 2.0 v SITES in Michigan. 

RELATED: John Ball Zoo nixing plastic bottles in 2020

The zoo's meerkat habitat was built to SITES certification, and by doing so the zoo is reducing water demand, filtering and reducing stormwater runoff, providing wildlife habitat, reducing energy consumption, improving air quality, improving human health, and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities. John Ball Zoo is achieving these through manual irrigation on an as-needed basis using 100% native plantings. Some of the plants are growing from locally harvested seeds from Plaster Creek Stewards. JBZ is utilizing rain gardens and leaching basins for stormwater. 

The zoo has also installed a green roof and solar panels on the canopy to offset outdoor lighting needs. And, whenever possible built with recycled content. Plus, there are no CO2 emissions through the use a special ventilation unit.

Another major sustainability-based project the zoo has taken on is getting Living Build Challenge (LBC) certification. LBC is the world’s most rigorous green building standard.

The zoo said its working to reuse, salvage or recycle maters from the former guest services building which has been leveled. None of the materials can end up in a landfill. 

This project at John Ball Zoo is currently the first and only commercially registered Living Building Challenge project in Michigan. 

All projects at John Ball Zoo since 2012 have been installed with stormwater leaching basins to recharge the water on site. Since 2002 the John Ball Zoo has saved more than 731 million gallons of water. 

Brewery Vivant is a Certified B Corporation and the world's first LEED-certified commercial microbrewery. Their commitment to water conservation includes capturing all stormwater runoff onsite, reducing water usage through waterless and low flow fixtures, recapturing process water during beer production. Brewery Vivant also said it trains its pub and brewery staff members to reduce or eliminate water usage wherever possible. 



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