"The HOK team has embraced the fast-paced evolution of technology, helped us leverage it to deliver construction faster and to an extreme degree of accuracy," Russell says. The hospital is expected to achieve LEED-Silver certification upon completion in December.

HOK encourages its employees to acquire LEED accreditation and embraces AIA's 2030 goal of addressing climate change and eliminating global greenhouse emissions through sustainable building design. HOK ranks fourth in revenue generated from sustainable projects in California during 2013.

"It's not good enough to just apply sustainable rules," says Ernest Cirangle, design director for HOK's Los Angeles office. "You have to ingrain sustainable thinking into the design process, making it an essential part of your process and culture."

Biology Inspires Design

HOK's design for the San Francisco Museum, for instance, adapts an 1874 federal landmark and a rare survivor of the 1906 earthquake into a net-zero building. The 102,000-sq-ft museum will be housed inside the four-story former Mint building, nicknamed the Granite Lady, which has stood vacant at Mission and Fifth streets since 1995. The project, expected to achieve LEED-Platinum status, is currently awaiting a second round of funding following a $13-million initial pre-planning phase.

"HOK listened intently to our group of stakeholders and fashioned a design that embodied and enlarged upon our vision," says Jeff Sosnaud, interim executive director of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. "Their team is both creative and collaborative —an all too rare combination."

The Mint's 5-ft-thick heat-efficient walls, natural ventilation and radiant floor-slab heating make for an operationally carbon-neutral project. A new glass-and-steel canopy floats over the existing courtyard and maximizes ventilation and temperature control.

A ceramic dot screen raised above the glass surface diffuses sunlight while providing more surface area for collecting water from fog and condensation.

"We investigated how native Bay Area plant life captures precipitation," says Woolford. "We discovered that, to collect this water, many [plants] are covered in tiny nodules that give them more area to capture water."

When the water drains off the glass, it is captured by rooftop cisterns. This water is combined with reuse wastewater from the building, which is then filtered through a wetland ecology of plants and beneficial bacteria on the roof to create clean potable water, resulting in a net-zero water building with no consumption from city supplies. The approach uses natural world efficiency to solve design problems.