Green Building in Louisville Really Is Green,
Now LEED Platinum

Dec 14 2010
by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

green building louisville leed photo top
Images courtesy (fer) studio

One post on TreeHugger says The Greenest Brick is the One That's Already in the Wall; another that LEED stands for "Lunatic Environmentalists Enthusiastically Demolishing". But now we are beginning to see the best of both worlds, with very green renovations and restorations, like the eponymously named Green Building in Louisville, Kentucky; it has just been certified LEED Platinum.

green building louisville leed photo front

It's the first LEED Platinum project in Louisville and the first LEED certified adaptive reuse project in the entire state. But it is also part of a larger context; it was in "a federally classified distressed area at the time of purchase and construction," but became the catalyst to the reinvigoration of the district, now the hip city center for the arts and sustainability, coined NuLu, or 'New Louisville.'

green building louisville leed photo outside

The principals of the firm, Form Environment Research Studio (fer) worked for Gehry and Libeskind, not a great training ground for green architecture. But the Green Building has a lot of green gizmos:

Energy-efficiency - The Green Building saves 30,000 pounds of CO2 a month, more than enough to offset the carbon footprint of all its employees' vehicles. Thanks to 81 solar panels, a 1,100 gallon ice storage system, and twelve geothermal wells 225 feet underneath the building, The Green Building's total off-grid energy efficiency is up to 68% and it outperforms Kentucky energy codes by up to 65%

(see TreeHugger on Ice Storage and Geothermal )

green building louisville leed photo inside

However it also gets a lot of points for its reuse and restoration of the existing building.

Re-used Material - In addition to saving the original mortar shell of the structure, The Green Building team re-used much of the material from the original building. For example, structural wood from the original building was re-milled into finished flooring and furniture. Bricks from the original building were carefully disassembled and re-used in other areas of the remodel.

green building louisville leed photo gallery

Recycled Material - The Green Building includes a high percentage of recycled materials, including 100% of the flooring, 70% of the windows, and 80% of the insulation, made from recycled blue jeans. The team diverted 551 cubic yards (³cy²) of demo material from the landfill by donating to local salvage yards, construction companies, a nearby farm, and Habitat Restore for Habitat.

green building louisville leed photo public space

I am not certain that one can call this historic preservation in the traditional sense, given the interior changes. " Architectural Record summarized the interior work:

Opting to keep the store's original masonry shell and mortar joint facade, (fer) studio opened up the space to light by raising the lobby ceiling up to 40 feet high and adding a glass spine that ascends through all three floors. To combat the narrowness of the building, the design team set up a contrast between open spaces and cramped ones, leading visitors through open spaces that compress down only to open up even larger. Throughout the building they left original brick walls and wood beams exposed and repurposed leftover wood into custom furniture and floor materials.

It is, however, a fabulous example of adaptive reuse, revitalizing not only a building but a whole neighbourhood.

More at the Green Building


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