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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I recently went to Napa Valley, and everywhere there were people bragging about their winery's sustainable architecture. I get sustainability in the vineyard, with organic or biodynamic farming, etc. But wineries? What makes winery architecture sustainable?

—Sarah K., Portland, Ore.

Dear Sarah,

Actually, sustainable architecture is one of the hottest trends in winery construction.

There are many ways to be more sustainable, but the overall idea is to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, raw material use, waste output and water consumption. Wineries can be built with reclaimed materials, employ skylights for natural light, plant more trees for shade and collect water to filter and reuse. One popular sustainable winery architecture strategy is earth sheltering, in which wineries or cellars are built partially or completely underground, where it’s naturally cooler and easier to moderate temperatures. You've also probably heard of gravity-flow wineries, which allow grapes and wine to be moved more energy-efficiently and gently during the winemaking process.

A few of the most eco-friendly LEED-certified wineries in Napa include Silver Oak; Cade and its sister winery, Odette; Hall; and Frog's Leap. Some of the green tactics they employ include solar power, recycled building materials, living soil roofs, natural ventilation, geothermal heating and cooling systems, drought-tolerant landscaping and even insulation made of blue-jean scraps. And it’s not just happening in Napa: Sustainable winery architecture is a global trend, and a great one!

—Dr. Vinny

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