> home > about > sustainability

Our Sustainable Design Philosophy & History

Miller Hull has been designing environmentally sensitive buildings for the entire history of the firm, beginning with many award winning earth sheltered and solar designs in the early 1980’s.

Sustainable development solutions create both economic and environmental value. In this sense we are similar to the ‘total quality’ movement which proved that it is possible to improve quality and reduce costs, in other words, achieve the seemingly impossible. Sustainable development solutions extend our definition of quality to include social and environmental value and capitalize on increased efficiency and productivity.

Green buildings are a good example of sustainable development practices at work. Through careful design of its systems, a building’s material use, waste stream and energy consumption will be minimized, as will its affect on the environment. Many green buildings cost significantly less to operate and maintain than conventional buildings, allowing financial resources to be reallocated.

The Miller Hull Partnership has completed several facilities which demonstrate how this economic and environmental value is created through thoughtful design, planning and engineering. These green buildings are also an example of how enlightened clients can practice environmental stewardship and good business at the same time, and, in the best cases, use the project as an educational tool.

Product Transparency

In the interest of better understanding the health-related impacts of the products we use in our built work, Miller Hull has begun asking manufacturers to join in this effort by developing Health Product Declarations (HPDs) for their building products. See our standard request here (66kb PDF).


Sustainable principles are inherent in everything that Miller Hull produces, but the degree that we design to is determined by the client. We work with our clients to determine how environmentally beneficial design can enhance their particular project and integrate with their priorities. We have completed several projects which have achieved, or are in the process of achieving LEED Certification. However, the LEED certification process is expensive and many clients choose not to pursue certification. That does not mean, however, that client and architect cannot design with sustainability in mind. Green design is good design and the benefits of a sustainable approach are well known as these design principles become a requirement of public agencies. It should be noted that although we support the LEED process wholeheartedly, we understand the decision to pursue it is not ours. Several of our “greenest” projects, including many that have won recognition as outstanding examples of sustainable design, have not gone through the LEED process.

LEED Certified

The University of Washington Tacoma Phase 2B project achieved LEED Silver, as did the Merrill Hall Replacement at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture. The Seattle Pacific University Science Building received LEED Certification in 2005, and the Fisher Pavilion Building at the Seattle Center in 2004. The Northgate Library, Community Center, and Civic Park and the Bertschi Center both achieved LEED Gold Certifications in 2008. Bellevue College Science & Technology Building and South Puget Sound Community College Natural Sciences Complex both achieved LEED Gold Certifications in 2009. LEED Gold Certification was awarded to the Northwest Maritime Center in 2010, both the Epiphany School and Fire Station 39 in 2011, and the Whitworth University Science Building in 2012. The LOTT Clean Water Alliance Regional Services Center in Olympia Washington was awarded LEED Platinum Certification.

LEED Projects in Construction, Registered

The Fort Vancouver Regional Library and the Cascadia Community College Global Learning & The Arts are pursuing LEED Gold. Fire Station 21, the Hands On Children's Museum, the Moses Lake City Hall, and the South Tacoma Community Center all seek LEED Silver Certifications. The Structural Engineering and Materials Building at the University of California is seeking LEED Certifcation.

LEED Projects in Design, Registered

Miller Hull also has several projects currently in design that are pursuing LEED certification. These are the Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center - Platinum (Vancouver, WA); San Ysidro Land Port of Entry - Platinum (San Ysidro, CA); Technology Access Foundation Headquarters - Gold (Seattle, WA); Seattle Pacific University Center - Silver (Seattle, WA); Coos Historical & Maritime Museum - Silver (North Bend, OR); Seattle Public Utilities South Transfer Station - Silver (Seattle, WA).

The Power to NET ZERO

Columbia Springs, to break ground next year, will try to capture power at every turn....

Sustainable Design Recognition

In 2008, 2004, 2003, 2000 and 1998 The Miller Hull Partnership received the National American Institute of Architecture/Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project Awards. This honor is of special importance to us as it recognizes the successful blending of both architectural design & sustainable design. Our receipt of five Top Ten awards puts us in a rare class of firms having a long term commitment to sustainable design.

On Earth Day 2008 the South Lake Union Discovery Center was recognized as one of the ten best sustainable projects in North America. The building was designed in modules that can disassemble and be moved to another location to serve a new function. 2004’s acclaim went to the 55,000 square foot Pierce County Environmental Services Office Building for its natural light, integrated building systems, and recycled content materials; in 2003 the Fisher Pavilion Building at the Seattle Center was awarded for its earth sheltering and energy saving design; in 2000 the Bainbridge Island City Hall Project was cited for its environmental features including the region’s first major installation of ‘Certified Wood’. The 180,000 square foot Patagonia Worldwide Distribution Center in Reno Nevada was the 1998 winner for its use of daylighting, energy saving solar tracking skylights and extensive use of recycled content materials, as well as restoration of the surrounding native landscape (xeriscape). In addition to these outstanding awards, Miller Hull has received sustainable/green design awards and recognition from many national peer groups, including the Lifecycle Building Challenge Award, the Design Collabetion Green Piece Award, the Boston Society of Architects Sustainable Design Award and the AIA What Makes it Green Award.

In the early eighties Miller Hull was busy designing earth-sheltered passive solar residences that received awards and were published extensively. We were design architects on many laboratory and office structures that utilized energy efficient systems. The University of Washington selected the Miller Hull team in 1979 to design a major addition and renovation to their Health Sciences complex because of our experience in energy conscious buildings, particularly in the field of mechanical system design. In the nineties Miller Hull set the standard in the region for utilizing daylighting strategies in buildings which cuts down on the use and expense of electrical lighting. Our projects have been cited as examples for their excellent energy conservation by Seattle City Light’s Daylighting Design Lab and their Energy Smart Incentive Program.

Writing on Sustainable Design

David Miller, FAIA, authored “Toward a New Regionalism” (University of Washington Press) which was released in 2005. This book illuminates the history of a ‘green trail’ in the work of key Northwest architects. Discussed and illustrated are environmental strategies organized according to nature’s most basic elements - earth, air, water, and fire and their underlying principles and forces.

Walking the Talk at Work: A Seattle Firm Tries Green Tags

Miller Hull Partnership Offsets CO2 Emissions

Summary: Starting in August 2006, the Miller Hull Partnership entered into an ongoing contract with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to purchase Carbon Offsets to support alternative energy initiatives that offset the carbon dioxide emissions produced by our business practices. Miller Hull has long been a leader in sustainable design and is taking the lead on encouraging sustainable business practices.

According to the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, “Carbon Offsets” represent the environmental attributes associated with electricity generation from new renewable technologies like wind and solar energy. By purchasing Carbon Offsets based on one's non-renewable energy use —chiefly coal, oil or gas—Miller Hull is helping move us all to new wind, solar, and other renewable electricity sources. The Bonneville Environmental Foundation applies the net revenues realized by selling Carbon Offsets to develop the next generation of renewable energy facilities.

Office Space
Miller Hull leases a 15,000-square-foot office with electric heat. To estimate our yearly electrical consumption, we used the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's national average energy intensity for office space, which is 16.5 kWh per square foot annually. 15,000 x 16.5 = 247,500 kWh annually. Because each Carbon Offset equals the greenhouse gas reduction from generating 1,000 kWhs of electricity from a new renewable energy resource, or 1,400 pounds of greenhouse gas displaced, Miller Hull will be able to offset 520 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Automobile Travel
Miller Hull's four cars average 37 miles per gallon - up from 17 mpg just four years ago! With each car driven about 17,800 miles annually: Four cars x 17,800 = 71,200 miles annually 37 mpg = 1,924 gallons of gasoline consumed. Miller Hull employees also commute some 60,880 miles by car per year for an additional 2,537 gallons of gas consumed at an average mileage of 24 mpg. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Energy Information Administration (EIA), one gallon causes 19.564 pounds of CO2 emissions: 4,461 x 19.564 = 87,275 lbs of CO2 emissions annually. In the Pacific Northwest, travel is the biggest source of carbon emissions. Eliminating this would result in a reduction of 40 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year. This is why Miller Hull not only offsets auto travel, but offer incentives to employees to utilize mass transit options such as busses, ferries and light rail.

Air Travel
Some 200,000 air miles are traveled by Miller Hull staff annually. According to EIA, traveling one air mile results in 1.36 pounds of CO2 emissions. Burning a gallon of jet fuel produces 21.095 pounds of CO2. Each passenger mile creates 0.63 lbs. of CO2 (21.095 pounds/gallon divided by 33.4 passenger mpg). Air travel also creates significant non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. These are expressed as CO2 equivalents, or CO2e. The Climate Neutral Network states that the appropriate approach is to double the 0.63 pounds of CO2, with a result of 1.26 pounds CO2e per passenger mile (CO2 + non-CO2 greenhouse gasses). An additional 8 percent is added to cover emissions associated with upstream refining of jet fuel. The result: 1.36 pounds of CO2e created for each passenger mile traveled (1.26 + 8% = 1.36). 200,000 miles x 1.36 lbs of CO2e = 272,000 lbs of CO2e annually. This results in 123 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Since we started our Carbon Offset program, Miller Hull has offset 1,023 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions including the emissions caused by our waste generated in the office, but we do not think it is good enough to stop there. We have launched an aggressive, office-wide carbon reduction program targeting reductions in travel, electricity use and waste generation. We also recalculate our business operations carbon footprint annually to track our progress, and are making strides, particularly in our computing energy use and the virtualization of travel.
Northwest Federal Credit Union Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion Water Pollution Control Laboratory Pierce County Environmental Services Office Building Toward A New Regionalism

2014 - The Miller Hull Partnership, LLP