July 21, 2020
Exterior of Miller Hull San Diego studio
The Miller Hull studio in San Diego was the first project to earn Petal Certification under the latest version of the Living Building Challenge. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

The Miller Hull Partnership recently received Living Building Challenge Petal Certification for the renovation of its San Diego studio. Built by DPR Construction, the 4,600-square-foot tenant improvement included upgrades to the open office, conference rooms and model shop.

“Through efficient building systems and responsible sourcing, Miller Hull was able to reach their sustainability goals and raise the bar for modern green projects,” said DPR project manager John Kay. “Because the Living Building Challenge is based on a building’s performance rather than projections, we’re demonstrating that these ambitious standards can be realized in a commercial tenant improvement.”

Miller Hull San Diego Open Office
The San Diego studio successfully pursued six of the seven Petals including place, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

To meet energy conservation goals and achieve net positive energy, the building features a 24-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array on the roof and was designed to take advantage of natural lighting in the sunny Southern California climate. In the first year of operations, the studio produced 30 percent more energy than it used. Fresh air can be accessed from almost anywhere in the space through manually operated, full-height windows. There is no artificial air conditioning in the building.

Salvaged and Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood as well as locally sourced materials helped the project reach the Materials Petal. The project team also prioritized manufacturer transparency and products without materials or chemicals of concern.

It took vigilance and an integrated approach to attain the net positive waste standard during the construction phase. “We challenged conventional waste management practices and reinforced the importance of rigor with the diversion work,” said Kay. “The so-called ‘waste’ became a valuable resource. The interior wall paneling removed during demolition was reused for bracing and protection during construction. Excavated soil was repurposed for offsite gardening and landscaping.”

Kitchen at the Miller Hull San Diego studio
The Miller Hull office produces 30 percent more energy than it uses. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

The Miller Hull San Diego studio is the first project certified under the fourth version of the Living Building Challenge, which continues to set visionary but attainable building goals, while focusing on the relationship between impact and effort in the design and construction industry. It is also the first Living Building Challenge certified project in San Diego County.

Presented by the International Living Future Institute, Petal Certification falls under the larger Living Building Challenge program and is awarded to projects that achieve at least three complete “Petals,” or performance categories. The San Diego studio successfully pursued six of the seven Petals including place, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty.

Interior of Miller Hull San Diego office
The 4,600-square-foot studio meets rigorous performance standards based on a building’s performance rather than projections. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter