Miller is working to integrate sustainability features into BPA’s facilities.


I have a strong passion for sustainable design. It’s rewarding to work for an agency that not only talks about sustainability, but also funds initiatives across the region.

Thane Miller, BPA Architect
How would you explain your job to your neighbor, so they not only understand what you do but what BPA does and its role in our region?
My team and I plan, design and implement facility improvement projects to maintain and improve the health, safety and sustainability of the agency’s buildings. My area of focus involves the planning and execution of new and replacement facilities to address changing strategic needs, reduce operating costs and improve safety. My work also aids the creation of efficient and capable work environments to support the great work that all BPA team members perform. A typical day for me could include anything from negotiating a construction contract proposal to reviewing a business case for a new investment.  

How does your work support BPA’s mission and strategy? 
The work performed by my team in Facilities Planning and Projects directly supports BPA’s mission and strategy. We plan, fund and oversee the design and construction of over 1,000 facility assets that enable our workforce to perform their work in safe, efficient environments. We prioritize our investments on the initiatives that reduce the agency’s risk exposure and ongoing maintenance costs associated with an aging portfolio. Proper financial investment also ensures the most critical assets continually operate. These prioritized funds help the agency employ modernization initiatives as well as test, repair and implement new technological solutions.

How does your work help BPA keep rates low, stick to budget, reduce debt or generate revenue? Do you have an example?
Eighty percent of the costs of a facility happens after construction. By replacing and/or repurposing aged or underutilized facilities, we are able to reduce BPA’s operating costs and avoid emergency repairs. We also bring value to the agency by co-locating similar functions in one building instead of multiple locations to better utilize available space. Adapting the use of the Ross Hazardous Material building in Vancouver is a good example of this. We are co-locating the complex’s electricians and environmental compliance teams into this one facility that was previously only partially utilized.   

How does your work help the agency prepare for, respond to or build resiliency to climate change?
Resiliency is not only a strategic goal for BPA Facilities, it is a requirement for our projects. We approach resiliency in multiple ways to address the different threats of climate change. First, we set certification goals for LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, in new facilities to ensure we are reducing the carbon footprint of our construction activities. Second, we adhere to stringent seismic risk response standards to ensure our buildings are safe during and after earthquakes. Finally, we design our interior building air filtration systems to allow them to adapt to forest fire smoke or impacts from the pandemic. This supports a healthy work environment for employees.

How does your work help the agency provide efficient and reliable operations for not only today but for the future?
In Facilities, we plan our future work through the lens of a Strategic Asset Management Plan. In the SAMP, a 10-year planning document, and our current annual work plan, we are focused on the construction of a new Vancouver Control Center, which will serve as the nerve center of Transmission operations and enterprise servers. It will include full system redundancy, modern construction techniques that are energy efficient, support systems that are chosen for their reliability and longevity, and current but proven technology. Everything from a data standpoint outside of Power Services. 

These principles and requirements that drive the control center’s design percolate through all new BPA facilities designs, like the new Technical Services Building which is currently under construction. If you’d like to learn more about our work, the recording of the Technical Services Building virtual groundbreaking ceremony is posted in the webcast portal. To access this 25-minute video, log in using your BUD ID and passphrase. 

A new or technical aspect of my job that I enjoy is: 
I enjoy being part of the full lifecycle of facilities projects. One day I may be in a focus meeting helping to solve a design problem, and the next day, I could be on a construction site inspecting progress. Mostly, I spend a lot of my time managing the execution of construction contracts, which have many technical components that are compliance, fiduciary and architectural in nature.

The coolest or most surprising thing about my job is:
In the planning and design stages, I get the opportunity to learn a small amount about a vast array of different work groups’ missions and job responsibilities. There are not many jobs where one day you are programing a heavy mobile equipment maintenance garage, and the next day, you are planning for a mission-critical control center. This allows me to gain a general understanding of most of the functions carried out at BPA and put myself in the shoes of all the dedicated workers that keep the bulk electric grid working for the region.

I like working at BPA because:
BPA supports and celebrates the diversity and culture of all its staff. This is evident in many aspects of our work and the perspectives of our leadership teams. It makes working at BPA feel like being part of a family. I also appreciate and support the rich history within the agency as a steward of the Northwest environment. I have a strong passion for sustainable design and working for an agency that not only talks about sustainability, but also funds initiative across the region, is rewarding to me. 

My favorite thing about working and living in the Northwest is:
The close proximity to nature is my favorite thing about the Northwest. I love the fact that in one long day of driving, you can leave the coast, drive to the peak of a mountain and continue on to a temperate desert before nightfall.

Where did you go to school? What did you study? What attracted you to that/those subject(s)?
I graduated from the School of Architecture at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. I have a dual degree in architecture and environmental design. I was attracted to the program because in the first year of school they combine architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning. At the time, I was intending to become a landscape architect because I paid most of my way through school with a landscaping business. However, a lecture from William McDonough, an early pioneer of sustainability in design, cemented my path in pursuing architecture with a focus on sustainability. 

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