When a city values sustainable design, how do you leave the smallest carbon footprint?
When a city values sustainable design, how do you leave the smallest carbon footprint?

Portola Valley Town Center

This five-building town center located near the San Andreas Fault employed sustainable design practices wherever possible, achieving LEED Platinum Certification.
Customized Solution
  • As the sustainable design was essential to the project, Forell | Elsesser worked closely with the architect to creatively blend structural and architectural elements for the most efficient, expressive design possible. PV solar paneling, reclaimed materials from the previous Town Hall, reused timber from the site, FSC approved lumber, and recycled (slag) concrete was among the sustainable design elements used throughout the project.
  • Forell | Elsesser worked diligently with the contractor, ensuring that both sustainability goals and construction schedule requirements would be met.
  • Due to the close proximity of the San Andreas Fault, the structural materials used throughout the center are proven to increase seismic safety. The multiple-sloped roof profiles also required special attention and were designed to withstand large seismic events.
  • The center includes a Library, Town Hall, Community Hall with kitchen, activity rooms, and an assembly area. The Town Hall seismic system was designed to provide better performance than required by code standards with the intention that it could potentially serve as an Emergency Operations Center after a major earthquake.


  • Architect: Siegel & Strain Architects/Goring & Straja Architects
  • Owner: Town of Portola Valley
  • Wood framed with wood shear walls (FSC Lumber as well as reused wood from former Town Hall and surrounding site)
  • First LEED Platinum Certified Town Hall Complex in the nation