AIA Honors Two Sustainable Projects with Top Ten Awards

Thornton Tomasetti, the international engineering firm, announces that The Matarozzi/Pelsinger Multi-Use Building, an adaptive reuse of a historic former industrial building in San Francisco, Calif., has been awarded the prestigious Top Ten Plus Project Inaugural Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE).  Top Ten Plus recognizes projects that show quantifiable metrics that demonstrate the true impact the sustainable design has achieved.  

In addition, the new administrative building for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) in San Francisco was honored as a COTE Top Ten Project. Simon & Associates (S&A), the green building consulting company acquired by Thornton Tomasetti in 2012, served as the green building consultant for both projects. 

Matarozzi/Pelsinger Multi-Use Building

  • The project is a LEED-NC Gold certified adaptive reuse of a historic and previously derelict turn-of the-century industrial building at 355 11th Street  in San Francisco, which includes a LEED-CI Platinum restaurant (S&A was the green building consultant on this project as well) on the ground floor. The building’s former parking lot has been transformed into an outdoor dining courtyard and organic garden where herbs are grown for use within the restaurant. The heat generated from the kitchen on the ground floor results in the office spaces not requiring additional heating on all but a handful of cold days.

  • While solar energy harvesting, a green roof, and natural ventilation make the largest quantitative impact on the building’s overall sustainability, it is the new exterior skin that provided the most fertile territory to merge sustainability with architectural design. The building’s new metal skin is perforated with fields of small holes that allow light and air to pass through new operable windows hidden beyond. The perforated outer skin mitigates solar heat gain while enabling cross-ventilation of the interior.

  • The non-irrigated living roof, planted with drought-resistant native/adapted plant species, serves to filter storm water, insulate the building, and decrease the urban heat-island effect which has resulted in 57% of precipitation being managed on site. Pervious surfaces, including landscaping, pervious pavers and drivable grass pavers, account for over 85% of the non-building site area.
  • The generous daylight and passive cooling of the building has resulted in less than expected energy use. For 2011, the office spaces utilized 25,440 kWh of electricity against the produced energy of 26,267 kWh for the two spaces, resulting in 103.3% of the energy being produced on site. This is greater than the expected/projected savings of 79%, even with a 40% increase in occupancy.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters Building

  • The new 277,500-square foot, 13-story Class A office building for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) at 525 Golden Gate Avenue was designed to achieve a long-term cost savings to the City by accommodating the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which previously occupied private sector leased space.
  • Of paramount importance from the onset of the project was the impact that the building would have on employee comfort by utilizing daylight and natural ventilation strategies.
  • The City and the SFPUC challenged the design team to create the “greenest urban building in the United States.” This was further defined as “an urban building close to mass transit that minimizes the consumption of natural resources to a high level and generates on-site a significant amount of renewable energy.” The consumption of natural resources was minimized through a number of innovative approaches.
  • On-site black water treatment meets all of the project’s non-potable water needs, and provides the opportunity for a district-scaled solution for future Civic Center irrigation use. The building is designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification and will exceed ASHRAE 90.1 2007 by over 27%. The building will produce up to 6.6% of its own power needs from renewable photovoltaic and wind sources; will provide $118 million in energy cost savings over 75 years; and will require 45% less energy to illuminate the interior through daylight-harvesting and advanced lighting design, compared to typical Class A office buildings.

About The American Institute of Architects

Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well-being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit

About Thornton Tomasetti

Thornton Tomasetti is a leader in engineering design, investigation and analysis serving clients worldwide on projects of all sizes and complexity. With practices in building structure, building skin, building performance, construction support services, property loss consulting and building sustainability, Thornton Tomasetti addresses the full life cycle of a structure. We have supported clients working in more than 50 countries, with projects that include the tallest buildings and longest spans to the restoration of prized historic properties. Founded in 1956, today Thornton Tomasetti comprises more than 700 engineering, architectural and support professionals who collaborate from offices across the United States and in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.