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Belzberg Architects | LEED-Certified Santa Monica Offices

A frequent partner on our projects, Belzberg Architects—see Kaplan Pavilion portfolio page—set out to revolutionize sustainable, green-building with the design of their very own Santa Monica offices. Officially certified with a LEED-NC Gold rating, the 20th St. office facility provided 7,000 sq. ft. of studio space in a stunning facility that is a testament to the true capabilities of architectural & engineering prowess. The unique office space designed and built by the very firm that would later inhabit it, Belzberg Architects, showcased energy-efficient ingenuity in every facet; our consulting engineering team at California Energy Designs provided both mechanical engineering and plumbing designs for the facility’s HVAC, Air Quality Control, and water/irrigation systems.

The facility’s energy and resource systems included high-efficiency HVAC that utilized the inherent benefits of the surrounding environment—including the natural ventilation designs that channeled prevailing coastal winds into usable, conditioned air—and drip irrigation systems with 90% efficiency, through the control of evapotranspiration sensors that limit water usage according to current and anticipatory weather conditions in the microclimates.

Belzberg Architects also set out to provide world-class Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) by coordinating a comprehensive building plan with all contractors involved, ensuring each stage from Air Quality Control system design to physical construction would abide by the highest in clean air standards. This plan included the requirement that all on-site products used were zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) or low-emitting in every material. The facility included other impressive energy-saving measures, including the usage of rooftop PV panels for solar power generation, the collection of rain & water runoff in an infiltration pit and aquifer, and extensive use of recycled materials.

The impressive results of this environmentally-conscious approach to engineering were no less remarkable than the gorgeous facade of the structure itself. Not only did the LEED-Certified facility promote top-tier clean air quality and wellness-design initiatives, it did such while also achieving incredible energy-savings: generating 12.5% of its annual power usage from rooftop solar and earning 31% savings in the overall annual energy needs of the building. The green building design was also able to achieve a 47.3% water-use reduction through its unique irrigation system and water-efficient plumbing designs.

The usage of natural ventilation from prevailing winds allowed the facility to achieve 100% passive ventilation, improving sustainability measures by reducing reliance on external power and overall resource consumption. In order to engineer such a solution, designs required the capture of natural airflow in large wind tunnels which then compressed the air, forcing an increase in the wind’s velocity. Smaller openings then moderate the wind tunnel effect, allowing the production of a more comfortable air flow for facility occupants.

In many ways, the office project’s utilization of its surrounding coastal environment in Santa Monica—from the prevailing sea breeze to the rain-based irrigation systems and solar—represents a broader evolution in energy engineering that mirrors a movement that architects have labeled “Contextualism.” The equivalent for architects, Contextualism is a principle that a structure is to be designed in response to its specific urban or natural environment, often resulting in a facility that “works with” rather than “against” its natural surroundings.

This creative ingenuity in facility energy systems is precisely the kind of innovative approach to engineering that we love, here at California Energy Designs. With uncompromised vision and a problem-solving framework, we believe that anything capable of being imagined is also capable of being built.

For a more in-depth analysis of the energy-efficient, green building measures of the facility, please refer to this Belzberg Architects’ website and our extended gallery page on the office’s design features.

Photographs and design images courtsey of Belzberg Architects. For more about Belzberg Architects’ unique approach and projects, see further video coverage.


Notable Features:

  • 100% Passive Ventilation
  • Renewable Energy Systems (Including Rooftop PV Solar)
  • Water-Saving Plumbing Features & Irrigation System
  • Air Quality Control Plan (Zero VOC Materials for IAQ)

See additional coverage on this development on the Belzberg Architects project overview and LEED-Consultant Green Dinosaur’s website. Project LEED-NC Gold rating is viewable here.

Date Completed:
Belzberg Architects
Lead Architect:
Belzberg Architects
Mechanical Engineer:
California Energy Designs
General Contractor:
Belzberg Architects
Electrical Engineer:
Ballesteros & Associates
Plumbing Engineer:
California Energy Designs
Landscape Architect:
Belzberg Architects
Green Dinosaur and Eco-Consulting LA
Project Type:
Commercial Office
Project Size:
7,000 Sq. Ft.
Santa Monica, CA