Across DPR Blog, Page 5

May 19, 2013

Second Annual StandUp for Kids Bowling Outing a Success

April 28 could have been just another typical San Diego Sunday, but for the homeless and at-risk youth of StandUp for Kids, it was anything but. On April 26, StandUp for Kids kicked off its annual 48-hour event, during which the drop-in center stays open for 48 hours straight and participating kids are provided with a variety of social outings, as well as the rare opportunity to spend the night at the center.

For the second year in a row, volunteers from DPR’s San Diego office hosted a bowling outing as part of the 48-hour event. This year, they met the morning of April 28 and walked with the kids, about 20 in total, to the East Village Tavern+Bowl, where they spent a few hours bowling and socializing. Both bowling outings were a huge success, according to Ian Pyka, who serves as DPR’s San Diego representative for the DPR Foundation. Pyka, who was one of about 10 DPR volunteers to attend the event, added that something as simple as a couple of hours of carefree bowling means a lot to the kids, whose young lives have already been marked by adversity.

StandUp For Kids is a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to homeless and at-risk youth throughout San Diego County. The organization’s two San Diego County outreach centers provide homeless children a safe environment and a wide range of services such as food, clothing, hygiene products, educational assistance, counseling and job referrals. Additionally, the nonprofit offers assistance to youth through street outreaches and educational programs in elementary and middle school classrooms. Founded in 1990, the Atlanta-based organization has programs in a number of states and is run almost entirely by volunteers.

May 17, 2013

The Largest ILFI Certified Net-Zero Energy Building in the World

Mission accomplished; DPR’s Phoenix office is officially certified as a Net-Zero Energy Building (NZEB)! Producing as much or more energy than it consumes, the LEED®-NC Platinum office building is the first in Arizona and only the second office in the U.S. to achieve NZEB certification from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) through its Living Building Challenge(SM) program. To date, there are only four buildings in the nation with this certification.

How did we get to this point? Let’s back up. Since 1998, DPR has maintained a presence in Phoenix’s Camelback corridor. When it came time to renew our office lease, we decided to find a new location that would bring us into greater alignment with our sustainability mission and goals as a company. We found and purchased a 16,533-sq.-ft., circa-1972 building, located in the Discovery Triangle at the corner of 44th Street and Van Buren. The building was vacant for several years and needed a major facelift. Luckily, it had great bones; the roof and structure were strong and intact, and the space was conducive to our open office layout. We purposely chose a building that was nearing the end of its intended lifecycle in a redeveloping area to show our commitment to the local community and to demonstrate the impact of revitalization.

While we had already achieved net-zero in a temperate climate with our San Diego office in 2010, it was also important for us to prove that this was possible in an extreme climate like Phoenix. Our Phoenix office team researched, designed, permitted, and built a highly-efficient, modern workplace in less than 10 months. 

By being both the owner and contractor, and leveraging our project experience, we were able to push the limits and go for net-zero energy, which we hope will pioneer a movement to make it the “new norm” in green construction.

According to recent research from Navigant Research, while net-zero buildings currently make up a small fraction of the overall green building market today, worldwide revenue from net-zero buildings is projected to grow rapidly over the next two decades and reach $1.3 trillion by the year 2035.

The renovated, award-winning office building is now a living lab for our community. Through creativity and ingenuity, we have achieved beauty on all fronts.

Office Photos Courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

Here’s one of DPR’s green leaders, Whitney Dorn, accepting the Living Building Challenge certification from the International Living Future Institute at an event on Thursday, May 16.

Photo Credit: Ted van der Linden

Read more about the office in this in-depth case study and here. You can also learn more about green construction and net-zero from this series of videos.

May 10, 2013

5 Ways to Green Your Existing Office

Many companies are looking for ways to green their offices without building from the ground up. Doing so can help reduce demands on the environment as well as reduce costs for your organization in the long run. Here are five ways we’ve greened our own offices through renovations: 

  • 1. Install monitoring software to track energy usage in real-time

Take a look and compare how much energy we used today in four of DPR’s own offices.

DPR San Diego Office, Photo Credit: Hewitt-Garrison

Installing monitoring software allows owners and employees to track their energy usage and view energy savings in real-time. A dashboard such as the Lucid Building Dashboard® system used by DPR’s offices in San Diego, Phoenix, Raleigh Durham and Newport Beach allows employees to track their use of electricity, water and natural gas. The dashboard tells users exactly how much energy is being used hour by hour in terms of total electricity as well as the amount of solar energy being produced so that users can meet--or even surpass--sustainability goals.

  • 2. Use outside air to cool your building

DPR San Diego Office, Photo Credit: Hewitt-Garrison

Natural ventilation systems use outside air to keep buildings cool, reduce energy, and lower costs. Our San Diego office’s natural ventilation system (like operable windows) cools our office and it helped us achieve net-zero energy status – meaning we generate as much or more energy than we consume.

DPR Phoenix Office, Photo Credit: Gregg  Mastorakos

  • 3. Install Solatubes® to reduce the need for artificial light

DPR Phoenix Office, Photo Credit: Gregg  Mastorakos

Windows and natural light reduce the need for electric lighting and the costs associated with it. The expansive windows and 82 strategically placed Solatubes® in our Phoenix office nearly eliminate the need for artificial daytime lighting all year long.

  • 4. Install a photovoltaic canopy over your parking lot

DPR Phoenix Office, Photo Credit: Gregg  Mastorakos

A photovoltaic-covered parking canopy generates power from the sun that offsets a building’s energy usage and cools cars under in the canopy all at the same time. Generating even one kilowatt-hour prevents 170 pounds of coal from burning, protects 105 gallons of water from consumption, and saves 300 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each month. Our Phoenix office’s photovoltaic-covered parking controls the indoor environment naturally and produces energy onsite, generating 180,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year.

  • 5. Install a vampire shut-off switch

Phantom energy accounts for nearly six percent of our country’s energy consumption, costing the U.S. billions of dollars in expenses and wastes unnecessary energy. Phantom energy happens when a device consumes energy even when it’s turned off (i.e., computer monitors, TVs, or cell phone chargers).

Install a vampire shut-off switch to disconnect phantom-plug loads, saving money and energy. In our Phoenix office, the switch disconnects 90 percent of plug-loads at the end of each workday. The last person exiting the building is responsible for activating this switch.


Which one of these energy-saving techniques is most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments.

April 16, 2013

Augmented Reality Highlights at BIM Network Event

On Thursday, April 11, we held another great Building Information Modeling (BIM) networking event, this time at our headquarters in Redwood City, CA. One of the highlights of Thursday’s event was the WorldViz virtual reality room, where attendees donned a stereoscopic head-mounted display and experienced immersive 3D walk-throughs in full scale. Owners use this technology as an opportunity to determine how their building will look and function long before it's even built to ensure that the final plan matches their vision for the project. By eliminating late stage design changes, BIM can help save time, money, and resources in the long run.

An attendee is fully immersed in a virtual apartment using WorldViz technology

If you thought QR codes were just for business cards, think again. At another augmented reality demo, our Innovation team showed how builders can see through walls by simply scanning a QR code with the BIMAnywhere app.  Builders use this to visualize the intricacies behind the wall, saving time and minimizing rework.

The BIMAnywhere app allows builders to see structures behind the wall by scanning a QR code

Sometimes it’s hard for owners to know what their building will look like based off a blueprint, resulting in late stage design changes that delay completion, costing owners time and money.  That’s where augmented reality comes in. The coded letters below allow us to shift around the configuration of a building’s interior to create a 3D virtual representation. The end result? We’re able to build, test and design how a building will look before it’s built, allowing us to address issues sooner and deliver more predictable outcomes for our clients.

Augmented reality can turn a piece of paper into a 3D visual representation of a hospital room

Augmented Reality was definitely a hit on Thursday, but that’s not all we had to offer. The event also included the following demos:
• Laser Scanning
• BIM Training
• Field BIM
• DPR Consulting
• Building Controls
• 4D and 5D

What demo did you enjoy the most at Thursday’s event? Tell us in the comments below. Learn more about collaborative virtual building and BIM here.

April 10, 2013

Maximizing BIM with an Integrated Team

Maximizing BIM with an integrated team begins with the owner as the primary stakeholder and requires a profound shift in the way projects are delivered. Based on DPR’s more than 15 years of experience in virtual construction and as a leader in IPD, we have identified the following lessons learned as outlined in Transcending the BIM Hype: How to Make Dollars and “Sense” from Building Information Modeling:

  • Determine the WHY first: Identify the reasons why you want to use BIM and set expectations accordingly.
  • WHO creates the BIM is as important as WHAT you want to model: The trade or contractor responsible for the bulk of construction should create the BIM in collaboration with the design team whenever possible.
  • Beware of software interoperability: Test and select applications that best fulfill the virtual modeling goals set for the project.
  • Compensation and contracts should support BIM: All participants should have “skin in the game” to incentivize deep collaboration.
  • Small elements have big impacts: BIM works best if every element that can potentially cause an issue in the field is included in the virtual model.
  • Co-locate to Co-create: Project participants should co-create the virtual model. Assemble the group to identify metrics to track and map a collaborative decision-making process.
  • Model management infrastructure is key: Determine how a virtual model(s) will be accessed, managed, shared and updated.

Photo courtesy of David Cox

April 4, 2013

Latest in Virtual Technologies Showcased at BIM Network Event

In March, more than 80 architecture, engineering and construction professionals attended a construction technologies demonstration at the most recent Sacramento BIM Network event held at DPR’s office. Founded last year by DPR's Kaushal Diwan, the Sacramento BIM Network brings together local professionals across disciplines to share information about Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the latest technologies used in virtual design and construction. 

Guests learned about innovative technology using Augmented Reality (AR), showing how an integrated model can merge with an actual camera view. Other interactive booths set up throughout the office included:

  • Trimble technology and laser scanning as utilized in the scan of existing facilities
  • How DPR’s Self-Perform Work group used Tekla software on the Alta Bates patient tower project
  • How tradesmen use BIM kiosks and mobile tablet PCs in the field to access the latest drawings and models
  • Our current efforts revolving around model-based costing and BIM aptitude training

Representatives from our Consulting group and ourPlan were also present. ourPlan is the visual planning program designed specifically for lean construction projects; it's a web application that manages short interval schedules and is compatible with the Last Planner System™.

See you at the next BIM Network event!

Photos courtesy of Kaushal Diwan

March 20, 2013

Huffington Post Blog Explores Success, Using DPR as Case Study

In his Huffington Post blog post, founder and CEO of ChangeLabs, Peter Sheahan explores the topic: "Positioning: Success Comes From Knowing Who NOT to Do Business With."

In the blog, Sheahan highlights DPR as a case study. He explores our purpose: "We exist to build great things" and how we base decisions off our central beliefs to respect the individual and change the world. Sheahan also touches on DPR's longstanding relationship with Jim Collins, business guru and author of "Good to Great," "Built to Last" and "Great by Choice." Said Collins, "I have met with very few companies where the desire to be great is as sincere as this company (DPR)."

Sheahan goes on to write about DPR's carefully selected five core markets and how we build complex structures for deliberate clients.

ChangeLabs has been conducting research for an upcoming book. As CEO/founder of ChangeLabs, a global consultancy delivering large-scale behavioral change projects, Sheahan has worked with some of the world’s leading brands in the area of innovation and change. He is the author of six books including, "Making It Happen," "Fl!p" and "Generation Y."

Read all of Sheahan's Huffington Post blog posts to learn more about his business insights.

March 20, 2013

Data Centers in the News

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data," author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said. If it's data you're interested in, look no further than the following DPR data center projects in the news:

  • The Facebook Prineville Data Center was featured in an article by Information Week called, "Facebook's Data Center: Where Likes Live." Selected by ENR as Editors' Choice & Green Project of the Year in 2011, Facebook's data center complex--according to the article--has the best energy efficiency rating of any major data center in the world. The article details how data on "likes," comments and other Facebook activity, is stored inside one of two 330,000-square-foot data halls in a complex outside Prineville, Oregon. With a massive 901 million users, this data complex was built to a whole new scale and was the first that Facebook designed, owned and operated. Facebook is unique in publishing the details of its designs and specifications. In April 2011, Facebook founded the Open Compute Project, where it makes available as open source information the designs for its servers. DPR's Andy Andres is quoted in the article, saying: "Facebook has taken the lid off the secrecy about how to bring power and cooling into a modern data center." Follow the project on Facebook. Check out DPR's Lulea, Sweden and Forest City, North Carolina data centers as well.

    Photo courtesy of Facebook

  • In other news, EMC's Center of Excellence in Durham, North Carolina, achieved LEED Gold – Commercial Interiors certification for Phases 1 and 2 of its 450,000-sq.-ft. data center. Sustainability was a primary design criterion for EMC with efficiency innovations such as: a rooftop water collection system; free air cooling for much of the year; and flywheel technology that eliminates the need for battery storage in the uninterrupted power supply systems. Highlights of the sustainable features include: 34 percent in overall energy savings; ability to utilize “free cooling” 57 percent of the year; reduced potable water use of 78 percent; and reduced carbon footprint of nearly 100 million pounds of CO2. Read more about the project here.

    Photo courtesy of Mindy Gray

March 5, 2013

HSEB Wins AZRE’s Most Challenging Project Award

AZRE (Arizona Commercial Real Estate) Magazine hosted the 8th Annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix On February 27 to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2012 and the construction and design teams involved. Our Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) team was awarded AZRE’s RED Award for Most Challenging Project in 2012 for exhibiting team commitment to lean construction, world-class quality and design during one of the most extreme economic downturns in history. This was selected from more than 100 projects submitted by architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms in Arizona. View all the 2013 RED awards winners and honorable mentions here. We are honored to receive this award, along with the entire team!

The six-story HSEB on the Phoenix Biomedical campus serves two end-users; the University of Arizona College of Medicine and the Northern Arizona University College of Health and Human Services. By accommodating two end users—the University of Arizona College of Medicine from the south and Northern Arizona University Physical Therapy School from the north—it unites both ends of the state while addressing a growing need for educating healthcare professionals to mitigate a critical physician shortage, nationwide. In addition to two end-users, the project included: two owners, the City of Phoenix and Arizona Board of Regents; two architects, design and executive architect, CO Architects, and associate architect and master planner, Ayers Saint Gross; and DPR and Sundt Construction, Inc. in a joint venture.

To learn more about the HSEB project, read "Two Owners, Two Architects, Two Contractors" from the Fall/Winter 2012 issue of our newsletter, DPR Review.

Sidenote: This is my fifth ground-up LEED® project (it's seeking Gold-NC certification).

Photo by Keven J. Siegert


Photo by Bill Timmerman


Photo by Bill Timmerman

March 1, 2013

Recap of Industry Discussion on the Next Generation of Net-Zero

On February 26, I was thrilled to be a presenter in a thought-leading panel discussion about the 'Next Gen of Net-Zero' in design and construction. Net-zero refers to a building that returns as much, or more, power than it takes from the grid on an annual basis.  Hosted in Charles M. Salter Associates’ office in San Francisco, the event was facilitated by Lisa Matthiessen and Kevin Hydes (Integral Group) with presentations from Peter Rumsey (Integral), Matthew Porreca (BNIM Architects) and Steve McDowell (BNIM).  The event was set up in a PechaKucha (pa-cha-ka-cha) 20x20 format where each of us had timed our presentations to deliver 20 graphic slides with only 20 seconds for each slide.  You'd be surprised how fast 20 seconds goes by when you're excited about the topic! 

The presentations were followed by an interactive conversation with a highly engaged and highly informed audience.  Our own Ted van der Linden added some valuable insights.  Here are a few of the topics that gained some audience traction:

  • How will we capture the voice of the younger generation?  Environmental responsibility is an expectation for them, not a luxury.
  • How can we shift attention (and budget) towards designing and building very efficient and interactive exterior skin systems…all five facades…instead of focusing on mechanical systems to counterbalance the inefficiency of the skin?
  • Do automated 'red-light, green-light' systems really have an impact on occupant behavior?  Are there more intuitive, simple cues that can help shift occupant behavior?

Fascinating conversation!  This was a group with the power and passion to transform our world.  I can hardly wait for the next discussion!

Check out some of DPR’s net-zero work: DPR Phoenix office, DPR San Diego office, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters (the headquarters was designed for net-zero and we hope to know the official status by the end of the year).