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Thunderbird Tower Earns Certification in Energy and Environmental Design

Historical Building Renovated With School’s Mission of Sustainability in Mind

On May 26, 2012, the renovated World War II-era Tower at Thunderbird School of Global Management achieved Silver certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The Thunderbird Tower was built in 1941 and served as the air traffic control tower and officers’ quarters during the operation of the Thunderbird 1 Army Air Field during WWII. Thunderbird closed the building in 2006 due to structural issues. In the fall of 2007, a student-led task force initiated a grassroots campaign to restore the Tower using green building techniques.

“LEED certification was very important to the project,” said Tower Restoration Project Director Will Counts, a 2009 Thunderbird graduate. “Restoring the Tower was always about more than just a building. Restoring to LEED standards was also an important part of being a Thunderbird because we wanted to create a better environment for the future.”

LEED certified buildings must achieve high performance in key areas of human and environmental health, such as sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Some of the Tower’s features that contribute to the LEED Silver certification are:

• Energy-efficient roof and windows
• Water efficient plumbing fixtures
• Indoor air quality
• Maximized daylight and views
• Minimized construction waste

Some other features of the restored Tower may not have contributed to earning LEED certification, but were inspired by the overall greening effort and intent of the LEED system.

“The ceilings are constructed from framing materials salvaged during demolition, select furniture pieces are made from recycled or reclaimed materials, and special attention was paid to durable detailing at high traffic areas,” said Kenneth Miller, an architect at Steven Brenden Architect, the firm that designed the restored Tower.

The LEED rating systems were developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000. The Thunderbird Tower was certified under the ratings system for New Construction and Major Renovations.

For more information or to schedule an interview, members of the media should contact Virginia Mungovan, Communications Specialist, at 602-798-7081.

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