2011 40 Under 40: Cole Roberts, PE, LEED AP, 34

Energy and Resources Leader, Arup, San Francisco


Cole Roberts, PE, LEED AP, 34

Energy and Resources Leader, Arup, San Francisco

University of New Mexico, BS Mechanical Engineering

If you’re a sustainability enthusiast, chances are you have heard Roberts speak or met someone from his team. As the head of Arup San Francisco’s Energy and Resource sustainability group, he leads a team committed to improving new and existing built environments. He is a frequent speaker at universities, government organizations, and engineering associations. Roberts’ passion has always been sustainable design, in the broadest sense of the phrase. His team has been at the forefront of many notable projects, including the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. He contributed to the Resource Guide for Sustainable Development in an Urban Environment, which was published by the Urban Environmental Institute, and he is currently cowriting a book on climate change, sustainability, and the built environment. He is also leading Arup-sponsored research projects on community-level energy systems, behavior change, and embodied carbon. His work on integrated design, carbon neutral communities, life cycle analysis, and renewable energy has led to successes that have changed practices in and outside of Arup. In the LEED Platinum-equivalent Y2E2 project at Stanford University, his team used the atria for daylighting, natural ventilation, and fire smoke control. The building achieved a 20% return on investment, which led to increased interest and awareness in sustainability goals throughout the campus and broader community. Roberts shares with other industry professionals by co-writing articles for the ASHRAE Journal, ASME Energy and Sustainability publication, Passive and Low Energy Architecture journal, and various industry conferences. He sits on the board of the nonprofit Groundwork Institute, which provides high-quality living environments for low-income populations. He has done pro-bono work for the Groundwork’s efforts supporting rural villages in China and Liberia. Outside of his many commitments to a sustainable future, Roberts spends time studying all styles of dance, from waltzes to swing to Argentine tango, a hobby that he shares with his wife and friends.

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