The newly renovated chemistry building at the University of Arizona

Green Ideas Building Science Consultants

Integrated team transforms historic education building into a 21st century collaborative teaching and learning space and model of sustainability

TUCSON, ARIZONA, USA, March 7, 2024 / — The University of Arizona in Tucson recently completed an innovative and award-winning renovation of their historic Chemistry Building that demonstrates how new, sustainable design and building strategies can be applied to a historic building to create a 21st century collaborative teaching and learning space.

The $42 million project received a LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations SILVER level certification in February 2024 for this National Historic Register Building, which is the first for the U of A campus. The Chemistry Building also won the Engineering New Record (ENR) Southwest Best Renovation/Restoration Project and the AIA Arizona Kemper Goodwin Collaboration Awards.

Interestingly, the project team did not initially target LEED certification due to the historic nature of the building and the challenges that would undoubtedly be encountered while transforming the 85-year-old lab building. According to Pete Rasmussen, Shepley-Bulfinch’s lead Architect for the project, if not located in a historic district the building would have been demolished.

The University of Arizona’s commitment to sustainability and LEED certification, along with Shepley-Bulfinch Architects’ dedication to sustainable, high-performance design and construction methods created an opportunity to do something extraordinary.

Shepley Bulfinch brought in Green Ideas Building Science Consultants to manage the LEED certification process and complete the required energy modeling for this unique and complex project. Once onboard, Green Ideas began the project by reviewing all project details and developing a viable LEED credit strategy to achieve LEED certification in the most streamlined manner possible.

Luckily, the project team had been implementing an integrative design process from the start. Although the LEED Integrative Design Process credit was not targeted, the requirements for developing detailed energy and water use budgets were followed, and the project team still focused on design strategies that would deliver the most efficient energy and water savings possible. The team determined that LEED SILVER level certification was feasible and went for it. So, in addition to energy and water savings the team also targeted healthy indoor environment strategies for building occupants by specifying no Red List materials throughout and implementing onsite construction strategies to earn additional LEED credits.

Visit Green Ideas Building Science Consultants website ( for a complete project profile that details the Chemistry Building’s results. While you’re there, you can read Charlie Popeck’s comprehensive article about which points were achieved in each LEED category and explore how Green Ideas can help you to turn your green ideas into reality!

About Green Ideas® Building Science Consultants
Charlie Popeck is President and CEO of Green Ideas, a full-service building science consulting firm offering 3D energy and daylight modeling, building commissioning, and world-class LEED certification services. The firm is designated as a LEED Proven Provider by Green Business Certification Inc. Its clients are building owners, architects, engineers, contractors, real estate developers, facility managers, and corporate entities wishing to establish business advantages through high-performance building practices. With a vision as bold as the results they achieve, Green Ideas is dedicated to transforming the market by promoting building science through a “triple bottom line” approach to business operations.

Charles S Popeck
Green Ideas Building Science Consultants
+1 4802204330
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