Calling its initiative EMission Zero, Miller Hull said that more needs to be done, faster to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
“Of course, we must do everything possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment through design, education and advocacy but that is not enough,” said Ron Rochon, managing partner of Miller Hull. “We have to own our part of the problem.”
Ben Dalton, a partner at Miller Hull in charge of the firm’s San Diego office, said Miller Hull will run a computer analysis of every building it designs to understand its contribution to global warming.
“Our goal right now is to benchmark and understand the impact that we’re having through construction of our buildings,” Dalton said. “It’s not going to be an immediate solution to get to carbon neutrality but this is a way to understand the impact we’re having and set a goal to improve.”
Miller Hull will pay for a minimum one-third of the carbon credits needed to make projects fully carbon neutral with hopes of partnering with builders and owners to cover the remaining two-thirds. This commitment is for all future projects designed by Miller Hull.
“We are inviting our peers, our clients, our builders to join us in support of EMission Zero,” Dalton said.
The firm will post its calculations on its website of the amount and type of offsets purchased for every project.
Under construction by Malick Infill Development and Protea Properties, the National City project at 8th Street and B Avenue is an eight story tower next to a four-story building, due for completion in the fourth quarter of 2021.
“National City will be the first completed building in San Diego since we started our Emission Zero initiative,” Dalton said.
The 131,368 square-foot project will include 127 apartments in a mix of flats and townhomes with 6,378 square feet of retail space, 4,054 square feet of offices and 29,233 square feet of space for parking, mechanical equipment and storage.
To bring in natural ventilation, the apartments have operable windows and all the hallways are external.
The building also uses timber instead of concrete wherever possible with two floors of concrete on lower levels of the project and six floors of timber on the tower portion.
“Comparatively, the wood component of it has done a good job of reducing the carbon footprint relative to some of our other projects,” Dalton said. “We knew that using timber was going to benefit the carbon footprint of the building.”
He said that growing trees for lumber removes carbon from the atmosphere while mining material for other building products, such as concrete, and making them adds carbon.
Building codes often require concrete on buildings above a certain height.
“The code is changing to allow timber to be used for much taller buildings, so I think opportunities are becoming greater,” Dalton said.
Miller Hull Partnership
Founding partners: David Miller/Bob Hull
San Diego Employees: 20
Revenue 2018: $36.3 million
Revenue 2019: $49.2 million
Notable: The firm dresses for the seasons in its San Diego studio because there is no air conditioning.