Three years ago, Steve Rice, Dave Fergus, and Mike Miller, partners in the 36-person design firm Rice Fergus Miller, bought a vacant and derelict Sears Auto store in downtown Bremerton, Wash. Their goal: convert the 30,000 gsf space into the most energy-efficient commercial building in the Pacific Northwest, and do so on a construction budget of around $100/sf.
Working with ME partner Ecotope, the partners calculated the amount of energy use they would allow as they strove toward net zero. Working backwards, they calculated the amount of energy that could be generated by covering every horizontal surface with PVs and designed the building to that number. Then the Building Team, including PCS Structural Solutions (SE), Gerber Engineering (EE), and Tim Ryan Construction (GC), considered which energy-related factors they could control and which they couldn’t.
RICE FERGUS MILLER OFFICE & STUDIO
Submitting firm: Rice Fergus Miller (owner, architect)
Structural engineer: PCS Structural Solutions
Mechanical engineer: Ecotope
Electrical engineer: Gerber Engineering
General contractor: Tim Ryan Construction, Inc.
Size: 30,000 gsf
Construction cost: $3.15 million
Construction time: September 2010 to May 2011
Delivery method: Self-performed
What they could control was insulation, heating, and cooling. To that end, they super-insulated the skin; put on a reflective roof; hyper-insulated the walls, floor, and roof; and installed windows with a weighted U-factor of 0.25. To control heating/cooling use, the team came up with a hybrid system of natural and mechanical ventilation in which heating, cooling, and ventilation were separated; ceiling fans mix the air, and the building has almost no ductwork.
The Building Team could have used FSC-certified lumber from Oregon or British Columbia; instead, they reframed the roof with locally harvested and milled lumber, which saved energy and helped local businesses. The team also ruled out a solar water heating system because the domestic hot water load did not justify the investment.
On the way to earning 91-point LEED Platinum certification, the office and studio achieved a 78% reduction in energy use over the national average for office buildings. Said Reconstruction Awards Judge Keith Hammerman, PE, “They thought through what they wanted to achieve and designed to meet that goal.” +