Across DPR Blog, Page 5

September 10, 2013

Girls Inc. Introduced to Green Building Principles by DPR So Cal Volunteers

Proving that kids are never too young to learn about material recycling and reuse, volunteers from DPR’s Newport Beach, CA, office recently hosted a group from the Foundation-supported Girls Inc. of Orange County for the fifth annual Generation Reduce Reuse Recycle (GenR3) green children’s program.

Held Aug. 2 at the organization’s Youth and Family Center in Costa Mesa, CA, the event introduced a group of 40 girls, ranging from third to sixth grade, to concepts related to sustainable building and environmental responsibility. Coordinated by Laura Lawson, DPR’s regional green leader for Southern California, the event spanned nearly three hours and drew a dozen DPR volunteers, plus DPR’s summer extern from Girls Inc., Briseida Miranda. GenR3 was planned as part of the Girls Inc. summer program’s two-week theme focusing on “Careers, Future and College.”

Following brief introductions from the DPR volunteers and an interactive green building overview from Lawson, the girls were broken into teams and tasked with brainstorming and designing their own green classrooms. The teams then constructed classroom models using recycled materials such as old foam core presentation boards, compact discs, bottles, egg cartons, berry containers and tile samples, as well as pipe cleaners, modeling clay and popsicle sticks. Guiding the process were the five basic facets of green design, as described by Lawson: site, energy, water, materials and people.

In addition to the emphasis on sustainable building techniques, the volunteers also introduced the girls to their various careers.

“As part of the volunteer introductions, we discussed our roles at DPR so the students think about all the different types of jobs there are out there, even within one company, and what skills are needed for those jobs (math, art, science, etc.),” explained Lawson.

This is the second year DPR volunteers have teamed up with Girls Inc. for the GenR3 event. Following their first GenR3 collaboration in 2012, the organization started its own Girls Restoring Emerging Environmental Needs, or G.R.E.E.N., Club based on the information provided about recycling and sustainable building.

Founded in 1954, Girls Inc. of Orange County positively changes the lives of 4,000 girls ages 4 ½ to 18 each year by providing year-round holistic, compensatory and intentional programming focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Its mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold.

Girls Inc. of Orange County is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $845,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2012. Over the past five years, the Foundation has awarded more than $2.4 million to 21 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.

August 30, 2013

Ensuring Worldwide Consistency and Quality with EMC Corp.

Sometimes, things have a way of working out...When DPR's Camilo Garcia moved from the U.S. back to his native Bogota, Colombia, he discovered that existing DPR customer, EMC Corp had needs in the region. 

The global IT services provider was launching a growth initiative in Latin America and started working with Garcia in that part of the world. Almost two years later, the experience has led to notable successes such as a “Next Generation Office” renovation.

Scott Krall, EMC’s Manager of Project Services, said the following about the partnership formed by EMC with DPR and Garcia: “The opportunity came up and the fit was good. Having someone who understands EMC’s project management procedures and processes, who can speak the local language, and has an understanding of EMC’s culture based on our relationships here [in the U.S.] have been clear benefits.”

Read more about the initiatives in Colombia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico in the latest issue of the DPR Review newsletter.

August 20, 2013

Owner Talks Benefits of IPD and Lean

An Owner's Perspective on Lean Project Delivery” was a recent event held by the Lean Construction Institute (LCI) Carolinas Community of Practice (CoP) on the evening of August 14. Hosted by the DPR Raleigh-Durham office, the program highlighted the benefits of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and lean techniques, specifically within healthcare.

Speakers included Christian Pikel from Universal Health Services (UHS) and their team members on various projects who discussed their IPD journeys. The panelists illustrated that with lean concepts and ultimately, the use of an integrated form of agreement, building behavioral hospitals can be better (zero disputes), faster and cost less. (Yes, all three are possible!)

In addition, the speakers also discussed the DPR-Turner joint venture project, UHS Temecula Valley Hospital project in Southern California, which also incorporated IPD and lean construction principles. 

Pikel shared that together the Temecula team reduced the total cost per bed from the California average of $1.8 million per bed to an unprecedented $1.1 million per bed, while at the same time reducing the owner’s milestone of "heads-in-beds" (not substantial completion) by 25%. Constructed in 19 months, Temecula received certificate of occupancy in July and there was a recent opening celebration that drew 7,000 people.

Some interesting points of the overall discussion:

  • In 2012, UHS completed 140 projects totaling $540 million across the country with only 10 full-time equivalent project managers.  
  • UHS considers themselves an equal partner of the team.
  • UHS project teams are self-forming, which means that as each entity is selected, they become part of the selection committee for all the remaining team members. 
  • Team members are chosen based on capabilities, team work and innovation.

Some 40 representatives from the local A/E/C community were in attendance. 

About LCI
LCI's purpose is to reform the management of production in design, engineering and construction for capital facilities. LCI developed the Lean Project Delivery System™ (LPDS) that applies lean construction principles and tools to facilitate planning and control, maximize value and minimize waste throughout the construction process.

In Raleigh, DPR’s Steve Gray is a member of LCI Carolinas Core Group as well as the Education Task Force.

August 19, 2013

Upgrading the World’s First LEED® Platinum EBOM Data Center

Without disrupting operations, the DPR team upgraded an existing Kaiser Permanente data center in Northern California. This third phase was the latest in a series of projects that DPR has built on this Kaiser Permanente campus. In an earlier phase, DPR renovated the original Kaiser Permanente data center, which gained recognition as the world's first data center to acheive LEED® Platinum for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EBOM). 

Upgrades to the 157,000-sq.-ft. data center in this third and latest phase included:

  • a 60,000-sq.-ft. new central utility plant addition to increase electrical and mechanical capacity; and
  • the build-out of an additional 40,000-sq.-ft. area of computer equipment.

The stakes were high. As noted in the Future of Healthcare study, the electronic health information stored in medical data centers is integral to healthcare because caregivers use the data to make vital decisions. To protect the operational data center during the upgrades, the team used a vibration monitoring system, a high level of building information modeling (BIM), and 3D laser scanning.

Read more about this data center and learn what Kaiser Permanente’s Executive Director for Data Center Facilities says about the project in the newest issue of the DPR Review.

August 14, 2013

Green Video: Return on Investment (ROI)

Sustainability doesn't have to be more expensive. In many cases, green building can result in savings for the building owner (whether upfront or in the long term). This Return on Investment video is just one (of 8 green videos) that was filmed at the DPR Phoenix office, which was certified by the International Living Future Institute as a net-zero energy building. It explains how pursuing sustainability can be a business decision as well as a thoughtful environmental consideration. 

Government incentives--both local and federal--are great ways to maximize green building benefits. In addition, creating an energy-efficient design upfront reduces operational expense and can pay off in a big way over the life cycle of a building. 

Watch the entire green video series here (8 videos total). These videos cover the broader themes of sustainability and net-zero energy building, and include the following topics:

  • Evolution of Green Design
  • Low Tech Meets High Tech
  • A Living Lab
  • Walking in the Owner’s Shoes
  • Sustainability and Employee Satisfaction
  • Reuse of Existing Buildings
  • Why Net-Zero?

These videos scratch the surface. Read the DPR Phoenix Office case study to learn about the path to net-zero energy building in much more detail.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments below.

August 13, 2013

Team Gets Creative at Florida International University

Florida International University (FIU)’s new ultramodern 137,000-sq.-ft., $43 million Academic Health Center 4 (AHC4) exemplifies teamwork, quality and schedule control. A long-term relationship with the architect as well as the team's inventive solutions helped make the most high-tech project ever delivered to this university a success.


  • Perkins+Will (project architect) and DPR have partnered together on more than 40 projects?
  • With 10 work days lost in the first six weeks alone due to record rainfall (117 inches over 18 months), the team still completed the project on time and on budget?
  • With the rain and the site’s geographic location at just above sea level, the team used a lunar calendar to determine when tides were at the lowest level?
  • Use of pre-glazing and pre-installation shaved seven weeks off the schedule and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars?
  • It was the first project on campus to fully incorporate building information modeling (BIM), which the team used for coordination, clash detection and field improvements?

​Read all about this project and how the team delivered this progressive learning environment in the latest issue of the DPR Review!

August 9, 2013

Subcontractors: Helping Us Build Great Things

Our trade partners/subcontractors are an important part of the DPR family. Once a year in many of our regions, we host an event specifically for the subcontractors we work with as a “thank you” for all their hard work and to celebrate project successes. The event features food, refreshments, music and giveaways.

 In the Bay Area, we call this “Subfest.” 2013’s Bay Area Subfest was held at our Redwood City office in early August. The parking lot was transformed into a street party that included:

  • Popular food trucks such as: The Chairman, Koja Kitchen, Pacific Puffs, An the Go, Wexler’s, Pop Nation
  • Energizing music by DPR's own Brian Cabalic of Untz.
  • Indoor exhibits featuring: Innovation, Special Services Group, Building Information Modeling, Preconstruction and Business Development
  • Artist's rendering of iconic projects by Marco Verdin
  • Raffles and a specialized Rubik’s Cube giveaway to attendees

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Okulanis

Our Special Services Group built a Rube Goldberg machine, which uses a chain reaction to complete a task. As shown in the photo below, the machine illustrates the point, "small projects, big results!"  

Photos Courtesy of Daniel Berson

An artist rendered some of our iconic Bay Area projects (from left to right), including: Sutter Health Eden MedicalDavid and Lucile Packard Foundation Corporate HeadquartersUCSF's Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research  and Sacred Heart Schools Michael J. Homer Science and Student Life Center.

Photo by Eve R. Forward

Across the regions, while the names may vary, additional events held to thank subcontractors this year included:

• In May, the Sacramento region held their annual Cinco de Mayo Subcontractor Appreciation Fiesta, which includes live music, great food and giveaways.

Photo Courtesy of Sacramento office

• In July, Houston held a Sub “Summer Camp” with different game stations set up, including a giant Jenga!

Photos Courtesy of John Goode 

Plans for upcoming subcontractor appreciation events in other regions include:

Mid-Atlantic’s “Subtoberfest" in October.

• Raleigh-Durham’s Subtoberfest in October.

• Richmond in October.

• San Diego in October.

• Phoenix in November.

Thanks to all our subcontractors and partners who help us build great things!

July 31, 2013

Green Video: Low Tech Meets High Tech

Sometimes simpler solutions are better. This video, "Low Tech Meets High Tech," explains how green buildings can use a combination of low tech methods in conjunction with modern technology.

DPR's Phoenix office--an ILFI-certified net-zero energy building--used established, even ancient techniques as well as complex, cutting-edge technologies to achieve its lofty sustainability goals.

In the video, project team member, Jim Dinan from Bel-Aire Mechanical explains, "Ultimately, it's not that the equipment drives the building space, the building space drives the equipment. On buildings like this, there's most likely less maintenance costs because the building is simpler and it still meets the needs. So less maintenance, meeting the needs; that's inherent built-in value."

This is just one video (out of 8) that was filmed at the DPR Phoenix office. The video series covers the broader themes of green and net-zero energy building, and includes the following topics:

  • Evolution of Green Design
  • Return on Investment
  • A Living Lab
  • Walking in the Owner’s Shoes
  • Sustainability and Employee Satisfaction
  • Reuse of Existing Buildings
  • Why Net-Zero?

Watch the entire green video series here (8 videos total).

Read the DPR Phoenix Office case study to learn about the path to net-zero energy building in much more detail.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments below.

July 15, 2013

Facebook Travels Abroad

On June 14, the first phases of Facebook's first data center outside the U.S. went live in Lulea, Sweden. With approximately 80 percent of Facebook's 1.11 billion users residing outside the U.S. and Canada, the new data center is now handling status updates, comments, likes, and more from around the world.

Located on the edge of the Article Circle, nearly the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska, the seaside town of Lulea is a near-perfect location for the new sustainable data center. Facebook's super-efficient design uses 100 percent outside air to cool the data center, eliminating the need for power-hungry chillers, to cool the tens of thousands of servers running around the clock.

Powered locally by hydroelectric energy, the facility "is likely to be one of the most efficient and sustainable data centers in the world." Hydroelectricity is not only 100 percent renewable; it’s so reliable that Facebook has been able to eliminate the number of onsite backup generators by 70 percent.

Another unique design feature of the facility is that it uses excess heat generated from the servers to keep the office space warm for employees during those chilly days in the artic.

Built in a tri-venture with DPR Construction, NCC Construction Sweden and Fortis Construction, the 290,000-sq.-ft. data center is not Facebook's first ground-up facility to be built on a greenfield site. DPR and Fortis are currently wrapping-up the latest phases of construction for Facebook's first two super-efficient data centers, built in Prineville, Oregon and Forest City, North Carolina. Both data centers use 100 percent outdoor air for cooling and are being built to LEED Gold for New Construction specifications.

As with Facebook's first two greenfield data centers, the company is using servers and infrastructure design outlined in the now well-known Open Compute Project, an initiative started by Facebook "that aims to accelerate data center and server innovation while increasing computing efficiency through collaboration on relevant best practices and technical specifications."

Facebook custom-designed their own servers, power supplies, and UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) units, and is sharing these designs online, free for anyone to use in their own data center. Facebook’s data centers--using their "vanity free" servers--are 38 percent more efficient and 24 percent less expensive to build and run than the leased capacity they relied on before their Prineville data center launched.

During initial tests, the Sweden data center averaged a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) of 1.07, which makes this one of the most efficient data centers in the world. For context, a PUE of 2.0 is considered "common", 1.6 is considered "good", and a PUE of 1.2 or under is "excellent". It is important to note that PUE is dynamic and changes with outdoor temperature and humidity.

Facebook will soon be launching a real-time PUE monitor, so anyone can see how the facility is performing on a minute-by-minute basis. Water Usage Efficiency (WUE) will also be viewable on the online dashboard, a topic of growing interest in the data center industry. Online dashboards for the Prineville, OR and Forest City, NC sites are currently online.

Impressive, to say the least. The future of data center design is unfolding right before our eyes.

July 8, 2013

Taking the Sacramento BIM Network On the Road

Sacramento was abuzz with all things BIM (building information modeling) during the latest Sacramento BIM Network in June. Events are held once a quarter in Sacramento.

Special thanks to Nacht & Lewis, Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers, Capital Engineering Consultants, Inc. and the Hacker Lab for co-hosting this event.

The event was held at the Nacht & Lewis office, as shown in the video below. Take a look!

With a wide array of professionals from across the industry in attendance, there was lots of idea sharing, installations and technology discussions. Each firm had a few booths that demonstrated their expertise on topics that included usage of gaming engines, automated cutting tools, energy analysis, A/E workflows, commissioning, and BIM 360 Glue.

Check out photos from the event on Nacht & Lewis' Facebook page.

These types of events are happening regulary and throughout different regions at DPR.

See you at the next one!