Skip to main content

Cronkite building gets green certification

November 10, 2009

The new downtown Phoenix building that houses the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University has earned a citation for sustainability from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification will be awarded during the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Phoenix this week. The gathering draws building industry professionals from around the country and others interested in sustainable building practices. This year’s conference features former Vice President Al Gore and singer Sheryl Crow for Wednesday night’s opening keynote and celebration at Chase Field. 

ASU President Michael Crow, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan will receive the LEED award Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the Cronkite School’s First Amendment Forum, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. U.S. Green Building Council President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi will present the award. The event is open to the public. 

Callahan said the award, which comes more than a year after the new building opened, is a reminder of how special the Cronkite building is. “It’s a place that epitomizes not just the highest standards of journalism but the highest standards of sustainability,” he said. “We’re extremely proud to receive this award.”

The Cronkite building was constructed with numerous sustainable features, including an east-west orientation for solar control, exterior overhangs and sunscreens for shading windows, energy-saving materials to help optimize building-energy performance, low or no-water landscaping, low-flow plumbing fixtures, building materials that meet LEED low-emitting product requirements and occupancy sensors for lighting control. 

In addition, more than 10 percent of the total building material content was manufactured using recycled materials, said Howard Shugar, vice president and senior project manager for HDR, the architectural firm for the building.  

In its report, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the project 37 points out of 37 submitted for sustainable features, such as being served by 12 bus lines within a quarter-mile of the site, diverting 79.8 percent of construction waste generated on-site from a landfill, and development and implementation of a green housekeeping program.

The Cronkite building, which also houses KAET/Eight, is the result of an innovative partnership between Arizona State University and the city of Phoenix. It was built with revenue from a $223 million bond approved overwhelmingly by Phoenix voters in 2006. The Cronkite building represents the largest single portion of that investment at $71 million.

The building, located at the corner of Central Avenue and Taylor Mall, is a six-story structure of glass, steel and concrete built by Sundt Construction Inc. and designed by Steven Ehrlich Associates in partnership with HDR.

Features include the First Amendment Forum, a multi-tiered public space designed for informal daytime gatherings of students and faculty as well as nightly public events; the Cronkite Theater, a 144-seat venue that, along with the Forum, is equipped with ready-for-broadcast high-definition TV cameras; and the Marguerite and Jack Clifford Gallery, a museum-inspired space that displays media artifacts, including several items from Walter Cronkite, the school’s namesake and legendary CBS News anchor, who passed away earlier this year.

Other building features include seven state-of-the-art professional newsrooms and media incubators, seven other digital computer labs, the Sony TV Studio, the Cronkite NewsWatch Studio, two KAET/Eight TV studios, KBAQ radio studio, 17 fully mediated classrooms, nearly 1,000 classroom seats and 280 digital workstations for students. The space is about five times the size of the school’s previous home, Stauffer Hall, which is on ASU's Tempe campus.

LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. The rating system, created by the U.S. Green Building Council, grades project sustainability based on points awarded for water conservation, energy efficiency and environmental quality, among other things. The more points, the higher the rating, which goes from basic certification up to Silver, Gold and Platinum.