Sustainable Design

Making the built world green

Portola Valley Town Center_Thumbnail

Portola Valley Town Center

Forell | Elsesser is committed to helping our clients succeed in achieving their sustainable design endeavors, and minimizing the impact on our built environment. Reasons for “green building” are numerous, from an overall commitment to the environment to using green building strategies to lower the “first-cost” of construction and operational energy.

Forell | Elsesser is a proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is at the forefront in providing structural engineering services that promote the design, construction, and operation of buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work.

Sustainability Innovation

Forell | Elsesser is continually developing new and innovative sustainable design solutions. Recently, Forell | Elsesser was instrumental in obtaining the first LEED Innovation and Design credit for an innovative seismic system on UCSF’s Ray & Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building project. Through innovative seismic design as well as collaboration with the architect, contractor, and owner, Forell | Elsesser was able to achieve over a 40% reduction in the embodied energy of the structural materials of the building when compared to a baseline building.

In high seismic regions like California, the life-cycle of a building can be severely disrupted by a seismic event. When a building is damaged or destroyed by an earthquake, it has a direct effect on the environment and the community. Repair of structures requires additional materials resulting in energy consumption and demolition waste. By designing more resilient structures, Forell | Elsesser is committed to providing “seismic sustainability” for communities and reducing the environmental impact after an event. Forell | Elsesser is a leader in the design of seismic strengthening mechanisms such as base isolation, buckling restrained braced frames, rocking walls, and passive dampers. Projects utilizing these strategies include San Francisco City Hall, UC Berkeley’s California Memorial Stadium, and San Francisco’s Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building.

UC Berkeley California Memorial Stadium Seismic Upgrade

UC Berkeley California Memorial Stadium Seismic Upgrade

LEED Support

With many LEED Accredited Professionals on staff, including three past chairs of the SEAONC Sustainable Design Committee, Forell/Elsesser strives for sustainability both on our projects and in our office.

Forell | Elsesser assists the entire design team to meet LEED, CALGreen, and International Green Construction Code (IGCC) goals and criteria. As structural engineers, we collaborate and support the building owner and design team to fulfill these goals in the following ways:

  • Using recycled materials in design
  • Utilizing innovative seismic systems to extend building life and reduce the materials required for the building seismic system
  • Designing high cement replacement concrete mixes
  • Using concrete for thermal mass
  • Providing open and flexible floor plans
  • Designing modular and repetitive systems that cut down on material use and reduce waste
  • Optimizing design to provide light-weight materials efficient structures
  • Providing shallower perimeter beams and columns to allow for more natural light
  • Providing design support for nonstructural items such as sunshades and solar paneling