West Louisville Ky to receive $5 million in community benefits from biodigester project

Historic building, land near Bernheim Distillery to serve as education campus;

Grant fund to support education, job training, entrepreneurship


LOUISVILLE (Nov. 5, 2015) – STAR BioEnergy and Heaven Hill Brands plan to invest $5 million in community-building efforts in west Louisville, as part of an energy-producing, waste-reducing project at 17th and Maple streets.

“After months of community discussions, we now have a project that does two things: First, it creates an environmental win for all of Louisville, and second, it addresses specific needs in the west Louisville community where it will be based,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

Fischer, Metro Council members and neighborhood leaders praised the community benefits commitment as a symbol of cooperation and investment.

Photo from www.starbioenergy.com
Photo from www.starbioenergy.com

The $32 million project will generate revenue for STAR BioEnergy through the production of green energy biogas – the product of a biodigester that will recycle the spent grains from bourbon production at the neighboring Bernheim Distillery. The process will save money for Heaven Hill and reduce impacts on the environment.

The key elements of the commitment to the community include:

West Louisville Education Campus

The historic Schenley Distillery Building, along with about four acres of adjacent land, will be donated to the community for educational purposes. The $1.5 million gift will benefit Simmons College and Kentucky State University. The campus may be used for one or more of the following:

  • job training,
  • college instruction
  • community center office space
  • urban gardening and hydroponics programs


The 1937 Art Deco building at 822 S. 15th St., which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was used for bottling and other distillery-related work.athletic facilities

West Louisville Community Benefits Fund

The companies pledge to invest $3.5 million to create a West Louisville Community Benefits Fund – with $1 million in the first year, and annual contributions of $250,000 over the next 10 years. The Community Foundation of Louisville would oversee the fund, and a committee of community leaders would award grants focused on increasing educational attainment, advancing job training, fostering entrepreneurship and economic development and improving healthy living.

Other Community Benefits and Commitments

  •  Jobs – The investment will create an estimated 100 construction jobs and STAR BioEnergy has committed to reach 30 percent minority hiring. The company will also collaborate with Kentuckiana Works and the Louisville Urban League to find as many community candidates as possible to fill the operating jobs created by the project.


  • Healthy Living – The facility will include on-site air monitoring, and data will be shared with the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District. The company will provide free fertilizer, a product of the biodigester, for community gardens.


  • Local Sourcing — At least 85 percent of the organic feedstock will come from Heaven Hill and other west Louisville sources, such as food processing companies. The spent grains from Heaven Hill will be delivered through underground pipes to the STAR BioEnergy facility, and other material will be shipped in tanker trucks. The company will limit incoming tanker trucks of feedstock to 10 each day, a 65 percent reduction in the current volume of trucks hauling spent grains from the distillery.


  • Communications – Residents within a three (3) block radius will receive status updates on at least a quarterly basis, including: construction progress, hiring opportunities, operational matters, and other relevant news.

Next Steps in Project’s Development

STAR BioEnergy will seek formal approval of the facility at 17th and Maple streets from the Louisville Board of Zoning Adjustments. The company has already been approved for state incentives for the project through the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.

If approved by the local board, construction of the facility could begin in spring 2016, and the facility could begin operations by the end of 2016, said Steven Estes, CEO of STAR BioEnergy.

“We are proud to partner with the leadership of the city, Heaven Hill Brands and the west Louisville community in bringing the latest in green-energy technology to Kentucky,” Estes said. “This project is a long-term investment that will benefit generations to come.”

“We at Heaven Hill Brands are very pleased to see this project moving forward,” said Max L. Shapira, President, Heaven Hill Brands. “Environmental sustainability is a core value we share with the city, and we feel this project brings tremendous benefits to the company, the environment and our community neighbors.”