AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

Page Tools

Pierce County, Washington Environmental Services Building
(Pierce County Environmental Services)

The southwest corner of the building is shown in this photograph.
Photo credit: Eckert & Eckert, Inc.


  • Location: University Place, WA
  • Building type(s): Commercial office
  • New construction
  • 50,000 ft2 (4,640 m2)
  • Project scope: 2-story building
  • Suburban setting
  • Completed October 2002

The Pierce County Environmental Services Building is located on the Chambers Creek Properties, a site of over 900 acres, including 2-1/2 miles of waterfront on Puget Sound. Pierce County recently completed a 50-year master plan for the site focused on "Reclaiming Our Resources," an effort that will gradually heal and rejuvenate the entire area by reintroducing native species and incorporating public uses of the site.

The Environmental Services Building is the first significant project built within the guidelines of the Chambers Creek Properties master plan, setting the tone for future development on the large site.

Chosen as an AIA Top Ten Green Project for 2004. Submitted by Miller|Hull Partnership, Seattle, Washington. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

After testing sustainable concepts, life-cycle cost analysis, energy studies, and value engineering studies were developed to test the feasibility of the proposed mechanical system and other design features, such as the introduction of natural light, interior vegetation, and views to the exterior.

Daylighting studies measured the performance of early design phase models. These studies led to the use of baffles in the skylights, a large western overhang, and exterior sunscreens on the eastern facade to avoid direct sunlight penetration while keeping the desired transparency and connection to natural light.

Enclosed office pods containing the individual offices and conference rooms slash through the open office "tail" of the building and define the various departments while providing visual transparency through the structure.

The raised floor air distribution system reduces the size and energy consumption of the mechanical system, improves indoor air quality, provides for future flexibility, and gives individuals direct control of their immediate environment. Nighttime flushing moves cool night air through the raised floor plenum, lowering the temperature of the concrete structure by several degrees.

Interpretive exhibits, describing the building and site, promote building, working, and living in an environmentally responsible manner.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, Local government
  • Typically occupied by 80 people, 40 hours per person per week; and 120 visitors per week, 1 hour per visitor per week


Wildlife habitat, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Efficient irrigation, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Connection to outdoors

next topic:
Go to next topic: Process

Last updated: 4/22/2004

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

Footer Navigation

Copyright & Privacy

  • © The American Institute of Architects
  • Privacy