2011 40 Under 40: Rick Russell, PE, LEED AP, 37

Principal, Interface Engineering, San Francisco


Rick Russell, PE, LEED AP, 37

Principal, Interface Engineering, San Francisco

California Maritime Academy, BS Marine Engineering Technology; California State University-Sacramento, MS Mechanical Engineering

Russell is a natural leader who has served in leadership roles ever since he was a Cub Scout in elementary school. From those humble beginnings, he rose to become a platoon commander in charge of 40 others at the California Maritime Academy, engineering officer on a ship of 30 people, and lieutenant commander in the United States Navy. He returned to school to acquire a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, where he wrote his thesis paper on a double-effect absorption chiller, then quickly rose through the ranks in the construction and consulting industry to become a principal at Interface Engineering —all before the relatively tender age of 37. Russell is both innovative and versatile, and he has engineered projects ranging from a preschool with a low construction budget to a laboratory with nuclear magnetic resonance equipment, vivariums, and hazardous exhaust systems. He has worked on high-profile projects like energy modeling for University of California-David Viticulture & Enology Research Building (LEED Platinum goal), and the Facebook Dining Facility in Palo Alto, Calif. He developed a novel approach for the oxygen system replacement project at a hospital, where he installed an entire temporary oxygen system prior to commencing the replacement in order to eliminate downtime. He also contributes as a presenter for Interface Engineering University, an AIA-certified continuing education provider, about sustainable design, chilled beams, mechanical design for labs, and LEED v3. Russell has donated his time to the Leap Sandcastle Classic for Bay Area kids and has participated on several Habitat for Humanity builds. In his free time, Russell returns to his maritime roots as a sailor. He finished third in the Pacific Cup sailboat race from San Francisco to Hawaii, and he’s passing on his love of the sea to his wife and two sons by sailing around San Francisco Bay with them.

Return to the complete list of 2011 40 Under 40 Winners

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