Across DPR Blog, Page 2

January 3, 2014

Short-Interval Planning + Critical Path Method Scheduling = Efficiency, Predictable Results

"And" is a powerful word. When combining milestone-based short-interval planning (SIP) AND an appropriately detailed critical path method master (CPM) schedule, the benefits include increased efficiency and predictability. 

DPR project teams across the country on projects such as the Facebook data center project in Forest City, NC, and the Arizona State University W. P. Carey School of Business project in Tempe, AZ, have experienced the results that SIP delivers in tandem with a strategic CPM schedule.

Said DPR superintendent Tom Corey on the ASU project, “I wouldn’t want to do [a project] any other way. Once you commit to it, go through the learning curve, and use all the tools, it truly works.”

DPR superintendent Lance Wafler on the Facebook project said the following about using this strategy, “Everyone gets better, and soon the team is really cohesive and understands how to interact to formulate a good plan.”

Interested in how ourPlan, Last Planner System and pull planning factor in? Learn about that as well as proven results, three components for improvements, and hurdles and benefits in the latest issue of the DPR Review newsletter.

December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays from DPR Construction!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

It's been a great year, so great that there's a surplus of cheer. 

Click on the image below to get your special cheers from the Cheer Containment Facility, located inside the Arctic Circle. It stores every wink, smile, giggle and guffaw produced this year.

December 20, 2013

Topping Out of Hillside Laboratory: UC Berkeley Computational Research and Theory (CRT) Facility

In December, the UC Berkeley Computational Research and Theory (CRT) Facility team celebrated with a traditional topping out ceremony, where a beam signifying the end of the structural steel erection was put in place. 


The team watches the topping out ceremony

Building on the slope of a hill with access on only one side presents many challenges requiring tight coordination and planning from the team. The project began in April 2012 and is slated to be complete in late 2014.

The new $103 million facility builds on the groundwork of Berkeley lab’s tradition of information sharing and expertise while offering an optimal environment to advance research. Key research areas expected to benefit from the CRT Facility include global climate change research, fusion energy research, biological and environmental research, basic energy science and astrophysics. 


The team signs the beam


The last beam is lowered into place


The beam lands in place (Photos courtesy of Albert Lee and Brett Thompson)

The building will be approximately 140,000 gross sq. ft. and accommodate approximately a 300 person staff. There will be a computer floor to accommodate two high-performance computing systems, a visualization lab for modeling and viewing simulations, an electric feeder from Grizzly Peak substation to provide 7 megawatts (MW) of power capacity to serve the initial high-performance computing and office loads, and administrative support space with offices, workrooms and conference space.

The project is aiming for LEED Gold certification. 

December 2, 2013

30th Anniversary Leap Sand Castle Contest

DPR Construction partnered with Gensler, Pivot Interiors, and Ulloa Elementary School to participate in the 30th anniversary of the Leap Sand Castle Contest on a warm and sunny day at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

But things weren’t always so bright. Just five days prior to the event’s original date, Leap was forced to indefinitely postpone the contest due to the government shutdown. But just like #SFBatKid who saved the day at the last minute, the government reopened and Leap was able to reschedule for one month later. 

During the months of September and October, Andrea Walker and I joined forces with a few designers from Gensler to visit Mr. Lee’s fifth grade classroom and teach the kids about building. Over the course of two months, the class learned how to turn an idea into a physical structure. 

With this year’s theme of “Masterpieces in Sand,” the students chose their favorite masterpieces and learned how to draw them. The following week, we brought in clay and they figured out how to turn a 2D drawing into a 3D object. Finally, we picked a few of our favorites and combined them into this year’s sand castle design.

By taking a literal spin on the theme, we chose four famous artistic, musical, and architectural masterpieces, and placed each one on a puzzle piece.

Our final design ended up including “Starry Night” by Van Gogh, the Sphinx and Great Pyramids, the Coliseum, and a piano for Mozart. 

Rather than giving out an award to every team as they’ve done in the past, Leap changed things up and only gave out four awards this year… and our DPR/Gensler/Pivot team is proud to have won the prize for “Best T-Shirt.”


Photos Courtesy of Andrea Walker

Huge thanks to everyone who joined us!

We’re already looking forward to 2014 and hope you can join us for next year’s event.  

November 14, 2013

How Do We Measure Energy Use as an Industry?

Given that most urban buildings will not likely get to net-zero energy consumption any time soon, it begs the question: how do we benchmark energy use as an industry? The industry needs to include a standard measurement for comparing buildings beyond LEED so that tenants and owner/users can compare results to improve building performance. Innovation and improvement typically occur when a standard exists to compare performance of a product, such as the “miles per gallon” metric used in automobiles.  

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is an organization that promotes intelligent urbanization and densification with members of the real estate industry. It focuses on integrating energy, resources and uses to reduce the impact of the built environment and determine the best future use of land. Recently, I was on a ULI panel in Chicago, organized by Mark Kroll of Sares-Regis. It was a Red Flight meeting of the Urban Development and Mixed Use Council (UDMUC).

Our panel addressed cost and payback of green strategies such as LEED and net-zero energy initiatives. I presented several examples of recent DPR “dark green” projects, certified as net-zero by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). These include DPR’s Phoenix Regional Office, which was the world’s largest ILFI-certified net-zero energy building until October 2013. The “world’s largest ILFI-certified net-zero building” title was then awarded to another DPR project--the 51,000-sq.-ft. Packard Foundation Headquarters in Los Altos, CA.

These net-zero energy buildings generate 100 percent building energy through onsite renewable sources such as photovoltaic (PV) panels. Both the Phoenix office and Packard Foundation Headquarters are low-rise buildings in suburban environments that have space to offset energy use with PV panels.


(Packard Foundation Headquarters photo on left courtesy of Jeremy Bitterman; DPR Phoenix Regional Office photo on right courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos)

In my view, the best metric for comparing buildings is kBtu/sf/yr (also known as EUI--Energy Use Intensity). This metric is calculated by dividing the total energy consumed by a building in one year by the total gross floor area of the building. It is used in calculations of Energy Star ratings developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

I believe the kBtu/sf label should be required for all buildings. You would need to compare similar building types in similar geographies, of course (office buildings in Chicago versus houses in Atlanta versus retail space in Seattle, etc.). This measurement could lead to more direct comparisons of buildings and results. It may also lead to legislation to require minimum energy performance for different building types. 

Our industry needs to align around standard metrics for built environment energy use to promote environmental responsibility and spur innovation.

October 24, 2013

Are Current Scheduling Practices Broken?

For an industry striving to be more productive, the current state of scheduling practices is wasteful. To learn how to "right-plan" our projects and achieve better results, we first must look closely at our own scheduling practices and create a dialogue within the industry about which practices are efficient and which are not.

Recently, I wrote a piece called "How to Fix a Broken Scheduling System" for Engineering-News Record's (ENR) Viewpoint. In the article, I discuss how the use of production planning--specifically Last Planner System methodology--creates a more reliable workflow. 

While still valuable as a strategic roadmap, critical-path-method (CPM) scheduling systematically tries to predict daily activity years in advance. Specifications often demand wasteful and costly scheduling practices that are misused.

Production planning at the right time maximizes productivity and minimizes waste. This viewpoint is backed up by Stanford University's Center for Integrated Facility Management (CIFE) research on two large-scale DPR Construction jobs. 

Click the image below to read the full article.

What do you think about current scheduling practices? Tell me in the comments below.

October 18, 2013

The Packard Foundation Achieves Net-Zero Energy Status

About 16 months ago, we helped one of Silicon Valley’s leading foundations open the doors of its new Bay Area office building. The Los Altos-based David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which has already received a number of awards, including ENR’s National Best of the Best Projects 2012, adds one more accolade to its name: Net Zero Energy Building Certification™ through the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).


Project Manager Mike Messick with Project Superintendent Bob Colhour (Photo Courtesy of Ted van der Linden, Project Sustainability Manager)

At 49,000 sq. ft., the Packard Foundation headquarters is, to date, the largest building to be certified for producing as much energy to meet or exceed its energy needs. The title of "world's largest ILFI-certified net zero energy building" was previously held by our own Phoenix Regional Office.

The Packard Foundation is one of very few buildings worldwide to carry both that designation as well as LEED® Platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.


Net Zero Energy Building certification (Photo courtesy of Integral Group); David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Photo Courtesy of Ted van der Linden)

This building was one of DPR’s first ground-up, net-zero energy projects and it was unlike any other. Our job included deconstructing the prior building, 96% of which was recycled. With EHDD as the design architect, our team built the existing structure using a diverse array of exterior building materials including aluminum, glazing, copper panels, stone, stone veneer and wood siding – all carefully overlaid to form a highly thermal rated exterior skin.

Every building component contributed to the net-zero energy goal. This included highly energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems to rooftop photovoltaic panels that generate onsite energy, to native plants and innovative drains that capture and filter runoff before it enters the storm drains and ultimately, our oceans.

We are proud to call ourselves partners of the Packard Foundation. It has been through a partnership of mutual vision and trust, that we’ve been able to help the Foundation bring its hopes to life. It has also been through our experienced and dedicated project team that we were able to ensure the Foundation would be capable of its sustainability goals.

Often, business leaders believe that a choice needs to be made between comfort and care for their building’s inhabitants and being an environmentally-friendly place to work. However, we would challenge this assumption whole-heartedly. We believe that comfort and environmentally-friendly design do not need to be a choice, but can be built and operated successfully hand-in-hand.

The Packard Foundation building is a physical manifestation of the Foundation’s and our long-term commitment to sustainability.

October 16, 2013

Doing More with Less in Healthcare

Healthcare owners continue the conversation on doing more with less and providing more value. During The Registry’s “The New Health Care Environment” event in San Francisco, the panel--made of healthcare owners and experts--provided insight on how the Affordable Care Act is affecting the healthcare industry.


Panel members from left to right: Carladenise Edwards from Alameda Health System, Heather Chung from SmithGroupJJR, Pete Delgado from Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, John Kouletsis from Kaiser Permanente, and me (Hamilton Espinosa from DPR)

Here are 10 big takeaways from the event:
1. Building may be different than it has been in the past. 

2. The A/E/C industry needs to provide flexible building infrastructure so owners can use buildings for as long as possible (60 years rather than 25-30 years).

3. Healthcare owners are looking to reuse existing building stock where possible.

4. Value is important to owners (lean project delivery was mentioned as an example).

5. Reform is incentivizing owners to incorporate technology. 

6. Providers want to use technology to tailor the experience to patients’ preferences (integration into phones/social media, home care, etc.). This will result in the need for IT infrastructure and potentially more data centers.

7. The trend will be more towards outpatient facilities with hospitals reserved for the sickest patients.

8. With healthcare reform, people will be getting more choices and providers are looking to move to a consumer model.

9. The system is transitioning to wellness care. 

10. Hospitals will need to provide evidence-based data to show what treatments are successful. 

September 26, 2013

Smile Across the Nation Grows Bigger

In mid-April, we acquired Hardin Construction, an Atlanta-based company founded in 1946. We added to our portfolio of projects and enhanced our presence throughout the Southeast.

Combining operations in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, we’ve added not only some of the best builders these regions have to offer but also a legacy of notable projects!

See how DPR’s “smile across the nation” has grown bigger and wider. Read Doug, Peter and Ron's DPR Corner from the DPR Review to learn more about legacy projects, what this addition means and what's on the horizon. 

September 18, 2013

Sutter Health on BIM, IPD and PAMF Sunnyvale Center

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) are important pieces of today's design and construction landscape. 

Sutter Health Project Manager, James Pease shares his insights on IPD, BIM and innovation in the Q&A section of the DPR Review Spring/Summer 2013 newsletter.

Pease explores these topics on the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s (PAMF) Sunnyvale Center project. The IPD team replaced an existing 55-year-old medical building with a fully-modernized, three-level, world-class cancer treatment center. It opened in August.

Learn about lessons learned on the project (including DPR's in-house creation of QR code delivery tracker software), the importance of community relations as well as his advice to other owners.

To learn more about the construction of PAMF Sunnyvale, in addition to reading the Q&A article mentioned above, watch time-lapse footage of the construction here (click the "Time-Lapse" button at the top of the screen).