Western Spirit: SMoW Shares Key Details of its Celebrated LEED Gold Certified Museum Building

During the celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, 2019, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West (SMoW) revealed important details of its renowned LEED® Gold certified museum building.

In celebration of Earth Day today, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West (SMoW) shared key details of its celebrated LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified museum building. SMoW opened its doors in January 2015 and in 2016, the museum achieved LEED Gold certification (60-79 points earned) for practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in energy efficiency, water savings, and materials selection, among other areas. One key feature: the condensation from the HVAC system waters low-water-use desert plants on the campus. (Image credit: Bill Timmerman, courtesy Studio Ma)

LEED is the abbreviated form of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which was designed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is the world’s most extensively used rating system and an international symbol of excellence in “green” building.

SMoW was awarded this esteemed certification in 2016 and the building’s sustainability features are a key component in the museum’s distinctive status as an institution devoted to describing stories of the West through Native American and Western arts, artifacts, and living cultures to “illuminate the past to enlighten the future.”

We are best known for telling authentic and compelling stories of the West to help our guests ‘See the West from a whole new perspective,’ and we are tremendously proud of our permanent and rotating exhibitions and collections that help us do just that. We are especially proud of our LEED Gold certified building and we thank the City of Scottsdale for this tremendous gift and the purposeful design spearheaded by the local design team. This building helps us every day in so many ways as we continue our important mission to bridge the old to the new West. It not only houses our collections, but it, too, is a work of art and tells a modern Western story.

Mike Fox, CEO and Museum Director, SMoW

The 43,000 square feet, two-story museum building was constructed and possessed by the City of Scottsdale and is supervised and run by Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

LEED certification guarantees electricity cost savings, lower carbon emissions, and healthier environments for the areas where people work, play, learn, worship, and live. The museum obtained LEED Gold certification (60-79 points earned) for executing practical and measurable approaches and solutions aimed at realizing high performance in water savings, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, and sustainable site development.

The building’s design promotes the following:

Optimal Energy Efficiency

  • Due to improved performance of systems and green design strategies such as desert-appropriate building orientation and self-shading, the building attains a 38% decrease in energy use over the baseline energy code requirement.
  • Imitating the ribs of the saguaro cactus, concrete ribbing on the museum’s facade offers “passive” vertical shade across the building’s exterior.
  • A “woven” metal extending from the second level offers self-shading for the building.

Water Savings

  • The building’s groundbreaking systems decrease water use by at least 40%.
  • The “weeping wall” of the sculpture courtyard gathers rainwater from the roof and 100% of the condensation from the HVAC system.
  • Harvested water moves from a bioswale (recessed planter) in the museum’s courtyard to a separate bioswale on the museum’s south plaza that supplies water to the building’s landscaping.
  • The museum campus incorporates low-water-use desert plants.

Materials Selection

  • Over 75% of nonhazardous debris from the building’s construction was recycled or recovered.
  • The sound attenuation blankets of the theater are made up of regionally sourced cotton.
  • Materials employed throughout the building’s design are sourced locally and sustainably.

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • The museum characterizes high-level lighting systems that are separately controlled.
  • Low-emitting paints and coatings are used all through the building to minimize the amount of indoor air contaminants.
  • The design and performance of the building offer a comfortable thermal environment.

Sustainable Site Development

  • The museum location features outstanding public transportation access, community connectivity, and development density.

The City of Scottsdale’s museum development project was headed by architectural firm Studio Ma of Phoenix, Christiana Moss and Christopher Alt, principals; landscape architect Colwell Shelor of Phoenix; and contractors Core Construction Company and LGE Design Build Company, both of Phoenix, all under the daily direction and oversight of City of Scottsdale Project Manager Gary Meyer.

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