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Sustainable Design Features of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Forensic Laboratory and Coroner's Office

Bill Odell, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK)

This will display the spectacular sustainable design features utilized in the San Mateo County Sheriff's Forensic Laboratory and Coroner's Office. This technologically innovative laboratory is highly flexible and incorporates energy-efficient fume hoods and HVAC systems. The facility also meets strict security requirements within a bright, open, and calming work environment.

The facility was designed with a plethora of sustainable features and will achieve approximately $44,000 per year energy cost savings with a simple payback of approximately 10 years. The facility is also estimated to save save 1,691 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, (the equivalent to 477 acres of trees and removing 340 cars from California highways) over 25 years.


The success of the facility proves that green building strategies are appropriate even in the context of a highly secure and technologically-complex building program.

This project has won a number of awards, including:

  • 2003 American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Green Project
  • 2003 American Institute of Architects San Mateo County Chapter Honor Award
  • 2003 R&D Magazine: Lab of the Year Award (Special Mention)
  • 2004 LEED™ Silver certification - Pending

Labs21 Connection:

The lab was the first building completed in San Mateo in the 21st Century, and a primary goal was to promote modern thought and based on the building's success, San Mateo County now requires design toward LEED™ certification for all new facilities.

With a focus on sustainability, this project is a great reflection on the Labs21 Approach to lab design. Through energy saving design methods (including the use of photovoltaics which return surplus power generated back to the grid), water saving methods (including landscaping with native grasses and wildflowers, as well as waterless urinals, low-flow showerheads and toilets), and renewable building materials and finishes, this project has inspired an entire region to rethink its entire building philosophy.

By explaining the process and methods used in a sustainable approach to laboratory design—and in particular, the design of an advanced computer lab—the poster illustrates how these strategies lead to added efficiency and continued improvement throughout the life of the building.


Not available at this time.


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