hi. we’re Schaefer’s sustainability team.

Lara Stroup Project Managerlara stroup, pe, leed ap bd+c


columbus office

With post-graduate degrees in both structural engineering + architecture, Lara has a unique perspective when it comes to marrying necessary structural elements + desired facility aesthetics.

Lara has 14 years of industry experience and has spent about half of her career at Schaefer. She works on diverse projects with differing size, geography + purpose. Lara is passionate about sustainability and making an impact on the world around her, and began leading Schaefer’s sustainability initiative in 2021. As initiative champion, she’s contributed thought leadership + provides resources to those designing according to sustainability goals and/or interested in expanding their knowledge in the area. Lara is a member of the National Council of Structural Engineers Association’s (NCSEA) Sustainable Design Committee and founded the Structural Engineers Association of Ohio (SEAoO) Sustainable Design Committee.

aaron pajestka


columbus office

focus: research + development of sustainable steel strategies


jacquelyn miller



focus: documentation + approaches to sustainable wood design


john thesing


cincinnati office

focus: embodied carbon calculations + reporting


education | how we’re leading the field.

internal inclusion

It’s important that everyone has the opportunity + access to be involved in our sustainability initiative. Our sustainability team stretches across our firm’s geography with team members present at two of our three offices, and one as a remote representative. The sustainability team is available for advice on how to address sustainability concerns.

We regularly shine a light on our efforts by providing updates + educational opportunities at firm-wide staff meetings. In addition, we post about an article per month to our firm knowledge management tool, ranging in content + knowledge level from a glossary of sustainability terms to an article from a structural magazine to a short video on life cycle analysis.

SMART conference


Each year, Schaefer hosts a conference for all team members to engage in an educational, social + collaborative two-day experience. In 2022, our sustainability initiative team hosted three keynote speakers from MA Design to discuss the importance + relevance of sustainability in today’s market. They presented:

  • Types of sustainability certifications
  • Measurements of a building’s sustainability
  • New technologies
  • Ways we can implement sustainability into our everyday lives


We built on 2022’s foundation by hosting another educational session presented by two of our own sustainability team members, Aaron + John. This session focused on:

  • Life cycle analysis
  • Environmental product declarations (EPDs)

It educated our team members on what to look for within an EPD and how this data can be used to make sustainable design decisions. The session was available to all Schaefer team members, and a recording was provided for any who could not be in attendance.

2024 + BEYOND

Our team is preparing an embodied carbon 101 presentation to be delivered firm-wide and included in the new engineer onboarding process moving forward. This presentation will:

  • Explain embodied carbon + the impact it has on our society
  • Reiterate our SE 2050 commitment + why Schaefer joined
  • Discuss how to approach sustainability with our clients
  • Provide a base knowledge + information on where to find appropriate resources for client discussions

In order to fuel that discussion, we conducted an internal survey to collect client perception of sustainability. The results found that 32% of Schaefer respondents had previously discussed sustainability goals with a client!

knowledge sharing initiative

We met with some of our clients that have expressed sustainability goals to discuss potential collaboration in the years to come. Our clients told us that they want:

  • Earlier collaboration on sustainability goals
  • Innovative solutions
  • Assistance on embodied carbon calculations and life cycle assessments (a service we’re developing)

In 2024, we plan to connect with all of our clients on our SE 2050 initiative and what it could mean for them. We decided a long-form presentation would provide us the space to have a nuanced discussion. It was important to our team that our clients know they are our priority, and they can be as involved (or not) as they want.

We believe in knowledge sharing amongst other structural engineers as well. Our initiative champion, Lara, is a member of the National Council of Structural Engineers Association’s (NCSEA) Sustainable Design Committee and founded the Structural Engineers Association of Ohio (SEAoO) Sustainable Design Committee.

strategy | let’s get to work.

one-year reduction strategy

We’re starting with high benefit/low energy solutions; we feel it’s important to make our solutions practical.

  • Some existing technologies can be applied to a project simply by discussing with the client + changing the specifications. Ideas like this will build early confidence internally and start conversations with our clients.
  • We’ll start to include alternative, sustainable choices in our general notes. We’ll provide guidance for the master specifications and how to include sustainability within those.
  • We’ll review + update typical details used on projects to eliminate waste + maximize adaptability. From this, Schaefer structural engineers will discern the appropriate detail for their situation.
  • We’ll perform an embodied carbon study on five projects, creating our internal library. By creating a library of past projects, we’ll have data to support our clients + provide recommendations on the best choices for their specific projects.

five-year reduction strategy

Over a five-year period, our sustainability team hopes to impact multiple aspects of our firm, from the work we do to our own offices.

  • The work depends largely on our clients and aligning with their goals. For this reason, a member of our firm will meet with clients annually to discuss their sustainability goals. We’ll learn what’s most important to them and amplify the sustainability conversation as a whole.
  • Our team will perform embodied carbon studies on at least five projects every year. Our goal will be to increase the number of projects per year to eight by 2029. Projects will be chosen from diverse markets + locations to maximize our inclusion + create comprehensive data.
  • We’ll complete embodied carbon calculations at three times: early design, end of design + during construction. This will help us track how changes made to the project impacted the overall embodied carbon.

reporting | how we’ll continuously improve.

life cycle assessment tools + reporting

Over the last two years, we have investigated multiple life cycle assessment tools – we decided TallyCAT and EC3 were best for our workflow.

  • We’ll complete life cycle analyses for stages A1-A3. Our plan is to use nationwide data for the first two projects, and then use more specific data as available in subsequent projects.
  • We’ll prioritize calling manufacturers for EPDs when unknown. When unavailable, we’ll utilize industry + regional data.
  • We’ll complete an embodied carbon calculation once at the end of the design phase and before the construction administration phase. To determine quantities, we’ll utilize Revit, as we do on most projects. This will easily show quantities, but in some project types, will require a higher level of detailing than we normally draft.



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