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We’ve known for a while that Louisville struggles with its urban heat island effect—spurred on by swaths of parking lots and other hard surfaces and exacerbated by staggering losses of trees. In fact, Louisville is the fastest warming city in the country, generating national headlines.

But many in the city are taking the heat island issue seriously, and we’re happy to see Louisville’s construction and design groups step up to help. On Friday, September 18, the Central Kentucky Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-CKC) and other related groups are hosting the 2015 Design Build Bourbon Blast, a bourbon tasting in support of fixing the problem. The event isn’t so much a toast as much as a call to action.

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“The design and construction industry can help to steer our community in a direction, one project at a time, to begin changing this trend,” Mathew Triplett, director at the AIA-CKC and the group’s immediate past president, told Broken Sidewalk in an email. He said there’s a lot architects can do to help. “We can plan smartly to reduce our use of roads. We can choose materials and building systems that minimize the absorption of the sun’s heat—reflective roofing materials, vegetative roofing systems, and thoughtfully placing new trees so that they provide shading over our necessary hardscapes.”

This isn’t just architects getting together to sip bourbon either. It’s the entire industry looking for change. Besides the AIA-CKC, other groups organizing the Bourbon Blast include the Louisville chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), the Louisville chapter of the National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC), the Kentucky chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), and the Kentucky U.S. Green Building Council (Kentucky USGBC). The event’s beneficiary is Louisville Grows.

An entire block of surface level parking. (Broken Sidewalk)
An entire block of surface level parking. (Broken Sidewalk)

“Louisville has been especially hard hit over the last few years on the tree removal side of the equation,” Triplett said. “Outside of the usual suspect—tree removal for development—we have also been hit by the emerald ash borer and several significant weather events that have all added up to an average loss over the last decade in Jefferson County of 150 trees a day or about 54,000 trees a year. We should infill those places where trees have been lost.”

Proceeds will fund the planting of 150 new trees in the Russell neighborhood and ensure their maintenance for two years through Louisville Grows.

The Bourbon Blast takes place tomorrow, Friday, September 18 at the Woodhaven Country Club, 7200 Woodhaven Road. The event runs from 6:00 through 10:00p.m. and includes a bourbon tasting, dinner, silent auction, raffles, and live music. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the event’s website.

“The Urban Heat Island Effect isn’t just about heat,” Triplett added. “It’s really a measure of the expense and health of a community, and with Louisville having been recognized as the U.S. city with the fastest growing Heat Island Effect, we can expect our city to become a more expensive and less healthy place to live unless we make the necessary changes to ensure Louisville is a leader in fighting the problem.”

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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

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