2016 40 Under 40: Sara Lappano, PE, LC, LEED AP BD+C, 36
Principal, Electrical Engineer, SmithGroupJJR, Washington, D.C. BS and MS Architectural Engineering, Penn State University
Sara Lappano, PE, LC, LEED AP BD+C, 36
Principal, Electrical Engineer, SmithGroupJJR, Washington, D.C.
BS and MS Architectural Engineering, Penn State University
Lappano joined the Washington, D.C., office of SmithGroupJJR in 2004 after earning her BS and MS degrees in architectural engineering, with an emphasis on lighting and electrical design. Since then, she has risen to lead the electrical design on some of the firm’s largest and most challenging projects. In her role of lead electrical engineer, she recently completed the design of the widely reported Museum of the Bible, a $400 million, 430,000-sq-ft building renovation. For the museum, she designed an innovative backup power system composed of eight paralleled natural gas generators. Lappano is a strong advocate of sustainable design and has designed electrical and renewable energy systems for several of the firm’s net zero energy buildings. She played an integral role in SmithGroupJJR’s design of the renewable energy systems for the Brock Environmental Center, which recently reached the 1-year milestone for net zero energy performance. The photovoltaic and wind turbine systems she designed have generated 86% more energy to date than the building has consumed, making it a great success story and a model of net zero energy design. For the past 2 years, she has served as the engineering discipline leader for SmithGroupJJR’s 120 engineers. Her regular interaction with this multidisciplinary engineering group helps ensure consistency and cohesion across the firm. Lappano volunteers at a large urban community garden and has served on its management committee. She is also an avid cyclist and endurance race specialist. She competes in a variety of endurance races, particularly triathlons. In 2015, she competed in five triathlons, including a 70.3-mile half-distance Ironman race. She is currently training for her first 140.6-mile Ironman race.