Blog : Green Collar Careers: Tietjen Hynes, Water Quality Engineer, Redhook Brewery

By Anna | Oct 9, 2014 | in

A Dartmouth graduate, Tietjen Hynes helps to lead Redhook Brewery’s Portsmouth facility on a sustainable path to better business growth, profitability, operations, food and of course, great beer. The 30 year-old Water Quality Engineer enjoys working with her colleagues to come up with innovative ways to make Redhook Brewery a greener business.

Redhook opened their Portsmouth brewing facility and restaurant in 1996 in order to provide the east coast with fresh, high quality beer. Since then, Redhook has made great strides towards greener brewing, such as composting spent hops and reclaiming heat at the end of the brewing process to use towards brewing the next batch. Tietjen has helped Redhook cut down on their electric usage by installing motion sensors in the bathrooms and storerooms, and through the use of low energy LEDs and CFL light bulbs. Recently, the company began offsetting every kilowatt of energy used with wind power credits.

Located at Portsmouth’s Pease Tradeport, Redhook Brewery is known both for its food as well as its beer. The menu shows a commitment to sustainability through locally sourced food, healthy options and an extensive composting program for food waste.

Nothing goes to waste here; all hops, grain and yeast are used to feed livestock at local farms. Working with Poly Recovery, Redhook has diverted all packaging waste such as glass, plastic and cardboard to a local 100-mile recycling and reuse cycle. The brewery partnered with Mr. Fox Composting to create a top-to-bottom composting program in which food scraps are transformed into plant-ready soil. Even the fryer grease gets recycled into local biofuels. Want to take some food for the road? The plastic cups, straws and to-go containers are all made out of recycled, compostable materials.

Hoping to share their commitment to sustainability with the Seacoast area and boost the viability of sustainable transportation, Redhook Brewery recently installed a free EV charging station. It’s the only electric car charging station of its type on the Seacoast and allows electric car owners to charge up for free while enjoying sustainable eats and locally-brewed beers.

Anna Murphy (AM): What do you like most about your job?
Tietjen Hynes (TH): I know I’m supposed to say the free beer, which is a great perk, but my favorite thing about working at Redhook is the people. My colleagues take an interest in things beyond their job description. We take a lot of pride in the product that we make and the way that we make it. Making a business sustainable does involve the big ticket items, like upgrading major equipment and selecting the most efficient replacement parts, but a lot of ground can be covered by employees who care. One great example of this is our recycling program. The company committed to recycling efficiently by getting new dumpsters and equipment for baling plastic. But it’s up to the employees to take the extra time to sort their waste for recycling and not take the shortcut of dumping everything into the trash. Because of the commitment of our team, we’ve reached a 98 percent diversion rate for our solid waste. That means only two percent of our waste goes to a landfill. Whether it’s saving water, or heat energy, or raw materials, we are always thinking of ways to go further.

AM: Where did you go to college? Does your college education help with your current job? What skills from college most prepared you for the work you do now?
TH: I went to Dartmouth College and got my degree in Mechanical Engineering. College definitely prepared me for my future, but not in the ways I expected it to. I rarely pull up the equations I memorized back then and I haven’t done calculus since I picked up the diploma, but my engineering education taught me a different way to solve problems which has been essential to my career so far. Particularly, I learned to spend as much effort defining the parameters of the problem as I spend finding the solution. Plus, it taught me how to use all the tools available. Advances in computing have revolutionized the engineering profession with modeling software, and the ability to search for equations and solutions that other people developed for similar applications. But sorting through the information for accuracy and relevance can be the hardest part, and that’s something college really prepared me to do. The other great skill I developed at Dartmouth was teamwork. We always collaborated on projects and problem sets, and those soft skills are a real asset.

AM: What do you look for in an employee in this field?
TH: Communication skills are critical. Nobody in the manufacturing industry works in a vacuum. It’s essential to be able to communicate well, both verbally and in writing. It’s important to be able to interact appropriately with people on all levels of the management food chain. You will need to defend your ideas if you want to make an impact at your company, but you’ll have to do it in a respectful way. Problem solving skills are also important. For every great plan there’s always an unexpected hurdle and it’s important to be able to adjust to meet the field conditions.

AM: What made you integrate sustainability into your business/go into a green industry?
TH: The biggest driver of sustainability in the private sector is financial. As utility costs increase, so does pressure to reduce utility use. Sustainable initiatives are always the most successful when they can produce a measurable savings and funding is allocated largely based on how quickly the improvement will pay for itself. This may sound a little cynical. Fortunately, companies who are looking for the biggest bang for their buck are also saving the most resources for the planet.

The other major driver for sustainable initiatives in a retail business is the rising tide of consumers who are willing to put their money where their ethics are. There is a lot of power here, and companies which are perceived as environmentally-friendly can bring in a network of consumers that will go out of their way to choose a more sustainable option. Innovations in our on-site restaurant are directed towards this growing niche, such as using sustainably produce and local ingredients. In this case, the “return on investment” is more complicated, but it is still a winning strategy.

AM: What are you most proud of in your business as relates to sustainability?
TH: The brewing industry depends on our natural resources—water, barley, hops—to produce the great-tasting beer that consumers want to drink. We’re very dependent on a stable environment to keep our costs level and make a high quality product. I think our recent change to wind power really shows our commitment to the planet. We now purchase wind power offsets for every kWh we use in the brewery and in our pub. Unlike our conservation measures (which are very important too!), this one doesn’t have a financial payback. I’m proud of our commitment to sustainability even when it isn’t the most convenient or least expensive option.

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