We designed the first LEED Platinum building in the downtown Louisville, Kentucky, area known as The Green Building. It opened in 2008. Little did we know that 10 years later, we would be commissioned to design the new Rabbit Hole Distilling campus right next door. We completed the main distilling building earlier this year.
Subsequent to The Green Building, the Nulu neighborhood received an EPA grant for LEED Neighborhoods, one of only a few across the country. Now the two projects form bookends that set up Nulu’s exemplary core.
Though the new Rabbit Hole campus is not LEED Certified, it is in keeping with pod architecture + design‘s mantra. Which means there are a lot of interesting sustainable bits quietly woven into the project’s design fabric. I call it “subversive sustainability” — subtle aspects of the project that form a powerful narrative in the overall design concept.
Consider the following “subtle aspects” at Rabbit Hole and visit our website at www.podand.com to see a full gallery of images:
- Adaptive reuse: We repurposed an 11,000-square-foot former tire warehouse on the property. One of the “greenest” things you can do in construction is not to build but, instead, to re-use and improve a structure that is already there. We fought to keep the 60-year-old building and work around it because we thought it was the right thing to do. And we re-used the steel framing removed from the warehouse as our trellis at the front entry. As a result, we were able to sustain the memory of the old neighborhood, tell a story through the architecture about adaptive re-use, and upgrade the experience of occupying a unique space both in the neighborhood and in the building.
- Locally sourced our metal panels from Metal Sales in Louisville: Developed through R&D, we set up a new product with Rabbit Hole as the flagship project.
- Local materials, suppliers, and contractors to reduce the building’s carbon footprint.
- Dual-purpose chillers and hot water tanks for both bourbon production and building use — which may be a first in distilleries
- Production design efficiency: Most of the processing occurs is gravity flow, which meant fewer pumps were needed and less energy is consumed. The idea: to apply “old school” methods to “new school” technology.
- Outdoor air mixing and in production spaces.
- Big Ass Fans® in warehouses and back-of-house spaces instead of high-energy mechanical systems.
- Tiered comfort zone designs to ensure minimal energy use in a usually maximal energy use industry.
- Processing re-use of fermented grain (stillage) as a bio-source of heat for cooker equipment (which also adds complexity and depth to the bourbon taste).
- Exterior wood louvers that eliminate heat gain before it gets trapped in the building.
- Thermal mass concrete floors.
- Quality of life considerations: abundant views of downtown, the Nulu neighborhood, and the bridges over the Ohio River
- We also like to think that this distillery is a really cool design that integrates all systems into one coherent sense of place.