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Rice Fergus Miller Office & Studio

Central Forum: supplies natural light and ventilation.


  • Location: Bremerton, WA
  • Climate Region: 4C: Mixed - Marine
  • Building type(s): Commercial office
  • Renovation of a 1948 building
  • 18,900 ft2 (1,750 m2)
  • Project scope: 3-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed June 2011
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED --Level: V3.0 Platinum

When Rice Fergus Miller Architecture & Planning outgrew their office space they decided to channel their collective design skills and commitment to environmental conservation into a new office space. The firm identified an abandoned building (formerly a Sears auto center) in downtown Bremerton, WA. Although the building had been sitting vacant for 24 years, Rice Fergus Miller recognized its value. The design team approached work within the constraints of a concrete box building with simple, common sense solutions that take advantage of the mild marine climate and modest budget. The resulting complete rehabilitation is a showcase of high performance sustainability, and a community asset. Key achievements include: 93% of existing building reused, 95% construction waste recycled, 70% reduced water consumption, and a projected energy use of only 21 kBtu/sqft! All of this was realized at a construction cost of only $105 per square foot.

Environmental Aspects

"This former Sears Auto Center building was practically in ruins. It had been vacant 24 years and was rotting from the top down. Our budget needed to accomplish many things besides gaining LEED points – we needed to provide a weather-tight shell, all operating infrastructure (HVAC, M/E/P), major code compliance, street frontage improvements, and complete finishes for a habitable, attractive, not to mention high performing, office. Our sustainability charrette...arrived at a single goal: we wanted to design the most sustainable project that we could, given our finite financial resources." -Steve Rice

The design team of Rice Fergus Miller in partnership with mechanical and energy design firm Ecotope (lead project engineer: Shawn Oram, PE) implemented numerous efficiency measures. Some key features include:

  • Rooftop rainwater harvesting - used for 100% of toilet and landscaping water needs (saves 62,000 gallons per year using 2x 3,000 gallon storage cistern)
  • 58% of wood is from sustainably managed forests
  • 24% recycled content in materials used
  • 14% of materials are manufactured and harvested locally
  • All products inside vapor barrier are low VOC
  • onsite solar produces an estimated 7% of building's energy
  • Extremely efficient HVAC system (see Energy page for details)
  • Designed for daylight with clerestory windows and integrated daylight controls
  • Efficient direct/indirect lighting fixtures
  • High performance envelope including increased insulation and reflective white roof
  • Extensive M&V with dedicated comissioning agent used
  • occupant feedback with web based dashboard system

[Added to the HPB database by New Buildings Institute - Vancouver, WA]

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Rice Fergus Miller, Corporation, for-profit
  • Typically occupied by 37 people, 50 hours per person per week; and 30 visitors per week, 2.5 hours per visitor per week

The building includes an additional 3,300 sqft of tenant space, which is currently vacant, and a 9,200 sq.ft. parking level basement. The additional square footage is not included in the energy usage calculations.

During the first six months of occupancy, RFM held 25 after-hours events with an average attendance of 30 persons and an average event length of 2.5 hours. During these events the HVAC system is typically turned off, allowing natural ventilation/ceiling fans to maintain a comfortable environment. RFM expects to continue using their building for public events. Still the energy use is tracking very close to model predictions.


Integrated team, Design charrette, Green framework, Simulation, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Water harvesting, Graywater, Insulation levels, Glazing, Airtightness, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Indoor air quality monitoring

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Case Studies Database provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's
Building Technology Program, High Performance Buildings.

Rice Fergus Miller Office & Studio

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