Sustainable Design

Since our inception, Matthew Millan Architects has maintained a strong commitment to environmentally sensitive and responsible design. In the U.S., buildings consume 40% of the energy, create 39% of the CO2 emissions, and are responsible for 136 million tons per year of construction and demolition waste going to the landfills. We feel both an individual and professional responsibility to design sustainably, to conserve resources and energy, and to reduce pollution. We follow these principles of environmentally sensitive and responsible design:

We have a strong reputation for residential, commercial and institutional work incorporating active and passive heating, cooling, and energy storage strategies in creative and thoughtful designs. We integrate day lighting and efficient lighting, high efficiency mechanical systems, natural ventilation, indigenous and low maintenance landscaping, water conservation, solar and instantaneous water heating, and many other low-impact technologies in what might be generally understood as bioregional design. Our work tends to integrate technology rather than be dominated by it. We place a special emphasis on creating places which are bright, airy, and pleasant to live and work in – all of which we believe are essential to a healthy and productive built environment.
We identify and inform clients and builders of opportunities for increased sustainability in the form of chosen materials or building methods. We encourage the use of responsibly forested or recycled wood, local craftsmanship, and low impact building materials whenever feasible. We regularly evaluate materials on the basis of their embodied energy and life cycle analysis and share this information with our clients. Our architectural plans are accompanied by project manuals that specify the need for contractors to comply with certain basic practices of environmental responsibility, including best management practices for site construction (tree protection, stormwater and sedimentation protection), construction waste recycling and materials selection.
With proven expertise and a strong background in historic preservation, adaptive reuse of buildings and addition/ renovation projects, we help our clients better understand the philosophical, economic, and aesthetic benefits of reusing existing buildings to meet their needs and desires. Many older buildings were built with high quality materials and a level of craftsmanship seldom matched today. With our creative vision and technical expertise, we approach the stock of older buildings as assets to maximize while being environmentally responsible.

Our staff regularly attends conferences, seminars and learning lunches and stay abreast of trends addressed in a number of relevant publications. As a result, we are able to offer our clients multiple perspectives on newly developed materials and methods for sustainable and environmentally responsible design. We are often educating contractors about construction materials and methods that are high quality and more cost effective.

In this time of increasingly complex building systems, we leverage our relationships with fellow design professionals, manufacturer representatives, contractors and tradespeople to gather and integrate the most current information into our design process. We utilize their technical knowledge, field experience, and information about pricing and availability to improve our work and share these resources with our clients.

We are particularly supportive of land conservation and the preservation of wilderness as we feel the critical linkage between natural places and the buildings we design. Human health and the protection of natural assets are intrinsically linked. Clean air, water and soil are equally as important to our well-being as the quality of our built environment. In addition, smart growth, strong urban and community planning and other anti-sprawl measures can reduce the stresses that impact our daily lives and further the protection of our natural assets.

We have created an office environment that reflects our core principles and provides a comfortable and creative atmosphere. Our office lighting is composed of high efficiency fluorescent fixtures that are selected for an optimum light level with comfortable, glare-free viewing conditions of computer screens. We are constantly updating our product and sample libraries and have placed high priority on maintaining information about environmentally responsible products and practices. We actively recycle paper, cardboard, magazines, metal, plastics and glass. We utilize new computer and communication technologies for maximum productivity and reduced consumption of paper and other goods. We purchase environmentally benign office products and maintenance supplies.

We are often in the position of educating our clients and builders, thus building their awareness of environmental issues. Our principal, Matthew Millan has taught in a variety of formal and informal settings, with a special focus on timber frame design and history, adaptive reuse of old buildings, sustainability, energy conservation and historic preservation. He has served as a visiting design juror at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and Philadelphia University. He has lectured for the Chestnut Hill Historical Society and Preservation Alliance and Longwood Gardens.