Stakeholder Spotlight: Rachel NallyOctober 21, 2021 | BIER
Company: Heaven Hill Brands
Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn
Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.
Briefly describe your role and responsibilities and how long you have worked with your organization.
I joined Heaven Hill in December 2019, so I’m coming up on two years with the company. My role as Environmental and Sustainability Manager with Heaven Hill requires me to ensure compliance with all of the federal, state, and local environmental regulations that are pertinent to each of our facilities, as well as provide technical and administrative direction on all sustainability programs and initiatives for Heaven Hill. My team and I are responsible for driving performance and measuring progress against our 2030 Environmental Sustainability Strategy goals.
Other key parts of my role are developing and coordinating training programs related to environmental awareness, conducting site audits to assess and address environmental concerns, and participating in capital project reviews to ensure proper environmental consideration and design.
How has the organization’s sustainability initiatives evolved over the years and what are your priorities for 2021?
As a leader in the industry since 1935, Heaven Hill has always strived to be a good steward of the natural resources used to create our products, like grains and water for our spirits, fuel and energy to run our facilities, and wood for our aging barrels.
To protect these resources, Heaven Hill has implemented a variety of projects over the last several years, including replacing light fixtures with more energy-efficient LED bulbs, implementing recycling programs within our operations, completing multiple boiler efficiency projects to reduce energy needs, and tree plantings around our Bernheim Distillery.
However, our world is now being faced with some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time, and it became obvious that we needed a cohesive strategy with a long-term outlook to guide this work. In early 2021, Heaven Hill finalized our first Environmental Sustainability Strategy, with robust long-term goals to achieve by 2030. The strategy focuses on four areas– use water more efficiently, drive toward zero carbon emissions, reduce waste, and conserve the ecosystems that support our business.
What are your impressions of BIER and what do you feel has been the group’s impact on private sector environmental sustainability?
I was involved with BIER in a former role at Brown-Forman Corporation and had a great experience at one of the BIER Member Meetings. I was able to meet many of my peers from other beverage companies and engage with them on pressing environmental issues.
Having this group of environmental professionals engage in a non-competitive space to explore new ideas and work through challenges is an asset to the beverage industry.
What is one specific area (e.g., topic, work product, etc…) where BIER got your attention and why?
BIER’s guides and toolkits, which are publicly available, have been very helpful in my work. I used the Benchmarking Studies and carbon footprint research as a piece of the background information behind our 2030 carbon emissions reduction goal.
Now, as we are putting together our Climate Action Plan, which will guide our work on the carbon emission reduction goal over the next ten years, BIER’s recent Facility Decarbonization Playbook has provided valuable insight, as it outlines the predominate methods of reducing carbon emissions from facilities.
Share a recent accomplishment of your organization’s sustainability initiatives/achievements you are most proud of and why.
In the distillery industry, we often think about what we do after we use a barrel—how we send it on to scotch and beer companies to continue its life—but it’s sustainable forest management that enables us to start that lifecycle.
While there is no required certification process to become a logger, there are state associations offering voluntary training programs, such as the Master Logger program. These programs focus on teaching loggers how to harvest trees in a way that fosters future regrowth, chainsaw safety, and protection of soil and water quality during logging.
Heaven Hill and Independent Stave Company recently began a sponsorship program to support loggers in completing logger certification through their state association logging programs, resulting in over 100 loggers certified to date.
We believe that education is a core tenet for everything we do at Heaven Hill, and we knew that by investing in loggers’ education, we could have a positive impact on not only their family-owned businesses but on the health of the forest.
If you had one superpower that could be used to radically accelerate and scale sustainable best practices, which one would it be and how would you use it?
The American whiskey industry has been growing rapidly for the past 15 years, and at Heaven Hill, we see this growth in demand as the new normal. When you are constantly growing and expanding your operation, it can be difficult to implement large efficiency projects– it can feel like pulling the wheels off of a moving train.
I would choose the superpower of pausing time. This would allow us to execute significant sustainable projects without disrupting the operation. It would also allow us more time to better engage our employees and consumers in sustainability practices.
The reality, though, is that climate change is a profound problem for our planet and we don’t have a pause button. We have limited time to make radical changes to ensure we do our part to keep global temperature increase below 1.5°C.
BIER Publications referenced in this interview
Facility Decarbonization Playbook
Carbon Footprint Research: Beer, Bottled Water, Carbonated Soft Drinks, Spirits, Wine
2018 Water and Energy Use Benchmarking Study
The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector.
By BIER [crp]