Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine Building Achieves LEED Platinum Designation

SCNM Interior 607 PS no logo

Green IdeasBy Charlie Popeck

Certified as a LEED Platinum level facility in October 2016, the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine’s Broadway Academic Building is a 47,832-squarefoot education facility located on SCNM’s main campus in Tempe, Arizona. The state-of-the-art building includes a medicinary, treatment rooms, cafe and kitchen, fitness center, library and, of course, classrooms.

Sustainable strategies employed during the design phase of the project by Cawley Architects include low-flow plumbing fixtures, reflective roofing surfaces, and a photovoltaic (PV) solar system that provides 30 percent of the building’s energy needs. The PV panels also provide shaded parking for much of the campus, demonstrating SCNM’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection by reducing the “urban heat island” effect that is prevalent in the region.

During the construction phase, general contractor LGE Design-Build developed a detailed construction waste management program that resulted in the project’s diversion of more than 2,100 tons of debris from local landfills. SCNM also utilized materials with high recycled content and sourced many of the building elements locally, saving fuel and transportation costs.

Green Ideas Building Science Consultants of Tempe was honored to serve as Sustainability Strategist and LEED Consultant for the project, which earned an impressive 80 of the possible 110 LEED points to earn the coveted LEED Platinum distinction. This was Green Ideas’ 13th LEED Platinum project.

One of the primary project goals for SCNM was focusing the project team on healthy indoor learning environments. These environments were accomplished through specification and installation of materials with low volatile organic compound (VOC) content and no added urea formaldehyde. In addition to building with low-impact materials, SCNM also implemented a green janitorial program that utilizes non-toxic cleaning solutions.

Sustainable Strategies

  • High-performance reflective roofing system reduces the urban heat island effect.
  • Green Cleaning Program reduces occupants’ exposure to toxic chemicals and airborne particles.
  • Enhanced HVAC system reduces environmental and economic impacts of excessive energy use.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures reduce domestic potable water use.
  • Green Building Education Program educates the community about sustainable features of the building.
  • Comprehensive recycling program diverts occupant waste from the landfill.
  • Onsite PV system reduces CO2 emissions while providing 30 percent of the building’s energy.

Project Results

  • LEED for New Construction PLATINUM level achieved.
  • 77 percent reduction of potable water for irrigation.
  • 65 percent energy cost savings above ASHRAE 90.1-2007 standard.
  • 47 percent reduction of potable water for domestic use.
  • 100 percent of roofing materials do not contribute to the urban heat island effect.

For more on SCNM’s LEED Platinum certified building, visit

For more on Green Ideas Building Science Consultants, visit

Charlie Popeck is the founder and former chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council Arizona Chapter, and the President of Green Ideas Building Science Consultants. Green Ideas is a full-service building science consulting firm offering 3D energy and daylight modeling, energy management and world-class green building consulting services. With a vision as bold as the results they achieve, Green Ideas is dedicated to transforming the market by promoting sustainability through a “triple bottom line” approach to business operations.

Photo by Cawley Architects.

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