The Miller Hull Partnership Designs a Sustainable Home Overlooking Puget Sound
At times, renovating a home can prove more challenging than starting over from the ground up, especially when it comes to putting sustainability first. But the architects and designers behind The Miller Hull Partnership thrive on such a mission. To transform a 1960s Mid-Century Modern home overlooking Washington’s Puget Sound into the first Living Building Challenge 4.0 Certified remodeled residence, the team paid careful attention to details, inputting net positive energy and water systems and selecting each material to minimize environmental impact. “Creating a Living Building is not necessarily more challenging than any other project, it is just that it demands we shift our thinking and revalue different aspects of our projects,” says Chris Hellstern, Living Building Challenge services director at The Miller Hull Partnership. “Living Buildings require a more integrated design approach, which always leads to better solutions with our expert members of the design and construction team.”
Taking full advantage of the waterfront views, the team opened the existing home in several places, adding sliding walls and skylights throughout. “In preserving the Northwest design aesthetic of this home, we also wanted to make sure it became even more connected to the natural beauty of its site,” adds Charlie Hellstern, founder of Charlie Hellstern Interior Design, noting the interior palette reflects the subtle shades of the native soil and rocks. Surrounded by 200-foot-tall evergreens, the landscape also proves fruitful for growing edible berries and vegetables, complete with a mycological foraging forest.
The Miller Hull Partnership even went as far as lobbying Bainbridge Island to change the city code to treat grey and black water on-site—a win for other homes in the area as well. “Many of our building codes and processes are outdated—they do not consider designs nor buildings that operate regeneratively, or with nature,” says Hellstern, making clear a little advocacy can go a long way toward creating more Living Buildings.
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