Gold LEED-Certified A.M. Burton Health Sciences Center


The A.M. Burton Health Sciences Building, home of Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy, School of Nursing and Institute for Sustainable Practice, received Gold-level LEED certification in spring 2009.

At its completion in March 2008, the Burton Building was one of only a handful in Tennessee and one of only hundreds across the nation to achieve the LEED-NC Green Building Rating (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction).

According to the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Tennessee was home to only eight LEED certified buildings, including two at silver level and one at gold level, at the time Burton was completed.

“I hope Lipscomb’s proactive approach to environmental building will serve as a model for others in our state,” said Lynelle Jensen, DF Chase Construction project manager for the Burton Building renovation. She has worked on several other LEED building projects, including a platinum-level project in Texas. “LEED goes far above and beyond standard construction practices. It is very good for our environment and shows a commitment to being good stewards of nature.”

Construction on the $10.1 million renovation of Burton, the addition of new music facilities and a renovated auditorium, officially began in 2006. The 44,000-square-foot Burton Building, completed in 1947, is one of Lipscomb’s oldest and most prominent structures.

“As a Christian university striving to serve and enhance our community, Lipscomb administration were quick to see that supporting sustainable practices is not only a benefit to our neighborhood and the state, but is fully in keeping with Christian principles to honor and care for the world’s resources,” said Danny Taylor, senior vice president for finance and administration.

Tuck Hinton Architects were the architects for the Burton project.

Lipscomb's Green Building

In order to achieve LEED certification, Lipscomb and DF Chase earned points for various green building methods such as recycling materials, using energy-efficient equipment and improving indoor air quality.

Project administrators earned LEED points by:

  • Recycling the materials removed from the existing structure. Points were awarded for diverting from a landfill at least 50 percent of the materials removed from the building. Tennessee Waste was hired by DF Chase to salvage the various materials such as doors, bricks, steel, glass and concrete.
  • Installing a geothermal heat pump. This environmentally friendly temperature control system uses the constant sub-surface ground temperature to provide heating and cooling. The system reduces greenhouse gas emissions and uses 40-60 percent less energy than a standard heat pump. In summer 2006, Lipscomb was the only college in Nashville proper to have a geothermal heat pump, according to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
  • Using native plants for landscaping. Lipscomb also earned points for not installing a new irrigation system with the renovation.
  • Creating an energy-efficient envelope. Lipscomb installed insulation with high R-values to prevent heat escaping the building; double-paned energy-efficient windows; and carbon dioxide censors, which allow air conditioning units to bring in more fresh air.
  • Using building materials with a recycled content. Carpet, vinyl tile, structural steel, drywall and roofing are all examples of building materials that can contain recycled content. In addition, Lipscomb worked to purchase building materials from vendors less than 500 miles away, to reduce the energy expenditure in transportation. And re-using the existing Burton Building shell was the biggest recycled product of all.

How LEED Works

LEED certification for new construction and major renovations was introduced in 2000 and is a swiftly growing program, according to the USGBC. Organizations notify the USGBC of their intent to comply with LEED certification by registering a building. The status of registered buildings can be anything from under construction to inclusion on a master plan for the future. There are thousands of registered projects nationwide.

A building becomes certified when it is completed and its certification documents are approved by the USGBC. There are more than 700 certified buildings nationwide in a number of categories including new construction, commercial interiors, existing buildings and multiple building projects, he said.

LEED Statistics At A Glance

  • Upon receiving LEED certification, the 61-year-old Burton was one of the first LEED-certified pharmacy education buildings in the nation, making it one of the healthiest health sciences buildings in the Southeast.
  • Upon receiving LEED certification, Burton was Tennessee’s first LEED-certified higher education classroom building.
  • To obtain LEED certification in the new construction or major renovation category, Lipscomb University must earn at least 26 points out of a possible 69 for various green building methods.?
    (Statistics as of May 2008)

New Future for Burton

The Burton Building was completely gutted and renovated to include a pharmaceutical science research lab, a pharmaceutical preparations lab, a patient physical assessment lab, a computer/dispensing simulation lab, five lecture halls, administrative and faculty offices, a museum, and a series of small group critical thinking discussion rooms, student lounges and student pharmacist organization offices.

The Burton Building was first called College Hall by students after it was constructed as part of the Lipscomb Expansion Program of 1944. For years Burton served as “the center of student life” as it housed the post office, bookstore, soda fountain, sandwich counter, recreation room and the Bison Lounge.

In 1966 the building was renamed the A.M. Burton Building, and in 1995 it became the home of Lipscomb’s Bible department, and became known as the Burton Bible Building. When the Ezell Center opened on campus in 2006, most of the academic departments and administrative offices moved out of Burton, leaving a significant portion of the facility open for growth of new academic programs.

The interior of Burton changed from a closed-off mid-century floor plan to an open, airy floor plan with lots of glass walls, wide corridors and gathering spots. Furniture in the classrooms is lightweight and portable, allowing for lots of small group interaction.