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She’s not just making vodka, she’s distilling change

What does it take to build one of the world’s most sustainable distilleries? Ask Carbondale’s Connie Baker.

On a whim, the former contractor went to distilling school where she fell in love with making vodka, discovering that, “it can be made from almost anything.” She spent the next four years creating mashes and developing recipes that would become the cornerstone of Marble Distilling Co. & The Distillery Inn (MDC), a Carbondale, Colorado-based business, and world’s first net-zero distillery, that she co-founded with friends and family in 2015.

Along the way, she also unearthed a dirty secret about the industry: most distilleries flush unthinkable amounts of resources — hot water and compostable mash — down the drain. She knew there had to be a better way.

This curiosity of how things are made — and made better — has served her team well in developing their unique approach. The sustainability pioneer is the world’s only net-zero distillery recapturing 100% of the process water and harvesting the energy off of this process. Working with a team of twenty local engineers and energy gurus, MDC created an award-winning Water and Energy Thermal System (WETS) that reclaims and reuses the water from the distilling process to heat the building. This innovative closed-loop system saves four million gallons of water and 75 metric tons of carbon each year.

Leading-edge technology like this comes at a cost. Without external funding, the vision would have remained a cocktail napkin dream. Partnering with the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) — a trailblazing clean-energy nonprofit behind the nation’s first carbon mitigation fee and Colorado’s first wind power program — was a key to lift-off. CORE awarded the net-zero distillery $33,875 in grant funding, supported the team with technical and financial advising, and encouraged them to apply for a USDA Rural Energy grant that reimbursed 25% of the upfront costs of the WETS system. CORE and MDC hope their unique private-public partnership will be a model for others.  Operating from an open-source mentality, MDC invites other distilleries, nonprofits and municipalities to glean from their experiences and program designs.

“Innovative thinking and community partnerships like this one will create the unexpected solutions and new technologies that are the key to our future,” said Mona Newton, executive director of CORE. “We are proud to step up to the challenge with Marble Distilling Co., a company that is an inspiration to us all.”

Got questions? I am here to help. 

We are proud to step up to the challenge with Marble Distilling Co., a company that is an inspiration to us all.
Mona Newton

Connie is the co-owner of one of the most sustainable distilleries in the country. She got there with big dreams, innnovation, cutting-edge technology, hard work, and a grant from CORE.

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Written by: Mac Scott

Mac grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, where energy, water and the environment were frequently the topic of dinner table conversations. His understanding of energy and the environment were put to the test at an early age in the unforgiving arena of elementary school debate club. From the first time writing a speech on renewable energy, Mac has recognized the importance of environmental issues and formed a belief that education is the first step toward having a meaningful impact. Volunteering on local political campaigns led to studying Strategic Communications and Political Science, earning B.S. degrees in both from the University of Utah. After graduation, he spent the next eight years working to promote energy literacy among kindergarten through 12th grade students. Mac is thrilled to bring his passion for energy efficiency and community engagement to his role with CORE. Mac enjoys taking part in all of the incredible outdoor opportunities the Roaring Fork Valley has to offer. Backpacking, hiking, skiing, disc golf and playing soccer are just a few of the ways he might to spend a nice day. On the not so nice days, you will find him listening to new music and working on his latest knitting project.

CORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to leading the Roaring Fork Valley to a carbon-free, net zero energy future.