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.
The Miller Hull Sustainable Action Plan
Click here to download the action plan (PDF, 300Kb)
Developed to support our participation in the AIA's 2030 Commitment
this plan details our current efforts and our future plans for sustainable operations and sustainable design.
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
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.
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
received LEED Certification in 2005, and the Fisher
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 &
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.