Across DPR Blog, Page 5

December 14, 2013

Girls Inc. “Winter Workers” Event Breaks Record in Southern California

Seven DPR volunteers from the So Cal office, plus a few family members, turned out to Girls Inc. Youth & Family Center in Costa Mesa, CA, on Dec. 14 for the DPR Foundation-supported Girls Inc. of Orange County’s annual “Winter Workers” event.

The event was the culmination of a month-long food drive held in DPR’s So Cal office, according to Melissa King, the Foundation liaison for that region. Since November, DPR employees were busy collecting canned and boxed food items and gift cards that would eventually make their way into the Winter Workers gift baskets, she explained.

At the event, the DPR crew joined some 200 volunteers and assembled gift baskets for needy families in Orange County. King explained that volunteers would start at one station with a box assignment – “18-year-old mom with four-month-old baby boy,” for example – and then take the box to various stations and fill it with appropriate items, such as food, household items, teen items, toys, and school supplies and books. The food items and gift cards collected in DPR So Cal’s food drive were among the goods the volunteers picked from when “shopping” for their baskets.

According to Molly J. Quirk, program services associate for Girls Inc. of Orange County, this year’s Winter Workers event broke records, with more than 200 volunteers working to assemble 214 baskets for families in need – far surpassing the organization’s goal of 185 baskets.

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 $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Since 2012, the Foundation has supported the organization with grants totaling $70,000. Additionally, DPR’s Southern California region organizes numerous initiatives with Girls Inc. throughout the year, including an annual sustainability-themed event. In April 2012, DPR was awarded a “Giving is Living Award” by OneOC, which recognizes businesses that exemplify a commitment to the Orange County community through employee volunteerism.

December 13, 2013

DPR Orlando Volunteers Rally to Make Holiday Season Special for New Hope for Kids

Fittingly enough, DPR Orlando’s decision to host the annual New Hope for Kids holiday party dates back to a summer visit to the small town of Christmas, FL. It was during a DPR volunteer trip to the organization’s summer camp, held there back in June, that DPR’s Joslin Matteson approached New Hope for Kids’ Event Manager Rhonda Stankiewicz about more ways to get involved with the group.

In addition to sponsoring the group’s Pumpkin Bowl in late October, DPR signed on to sponsor and host its annual holiday party, held Dec. 8 at the First Presbyterian Church in Maitland, FL. Planning for the party began in August, Matteson said, adding that she and other DPR volunteers were tasked with planning the menu, providing decorations, setting up the party and volunteering the day of the event.

According to Matteson, DPR’s Josh Schadow, a project engineer in the Orlando office, volunteered to build the decorations in his own time. Keeping with the party theme of “Snowmen,” Schadow built and painted two plywood trees and a plywood snowman. The large props have hinged backs and can be stored flat for future holiday parties. Additionally, a combined total of 10 volunteers – half of the Orlando office’s staff – were on site the day before and early the day of the party to set up and prep the food.

During the party, which hosted 275 to 300 guests, Matteson said DPR volunteers helped with craft stations and face painting for the kids and manned the “gift shop,” where children could pick up small gifts, like towels and pot holders, to wrap and put under their own Christmas trees for their families. Santa was also on hand to give the children their own treat, either an ornament or small stuffed animal.

In total, the DPR Foundation contributed $2,600 in discretionary funds to the party, paying for the gifts from Santa, gift shop items, gym and kitchen rental, raffle items, t-shirts, and food. These discretionary funds are distributed to DPR’s offices to enhance volunteerism with their designated Foundation organizations.

The party was bookended by two holiday drives for New Hope for Kids, organized and paid for directly by the Orlando office. In November, DPR employees contributed to the organization’s “Give A Gift Card” Drive, which assisted families in the organization’s grief and wish programs that were struggling financially due to the death of the main wage earner or because of the medical bills associated with the illness of their child. In total, six employees donated $120 in gift cards to the campaign to help these families enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day meal. Additionally, the Orlando office raised approximately $300 in gift cards and $200 in toys for the New Hope for Kids holiday toy drive, which was set to provide gifts to more than 650 children from the program.

Based in Maitland, New Hope for Kids assists Central Florida children in need through its two programs, the Center for Grieving Children, which helps children and families cope with the feelings of grief and loss after the death of a loved one, and Children’s Wish, which grants wishes to children, ages three to 18, diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

New Hope for Kids is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Since December 2010, the DPR Foundation has supported New Hope for Kids with grants totaling $115,000. Additionally, DPR Orlando volunteers participate in an annual back-to-school drive benefiting the organization, among other activities.

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 27, 2013

Career Day Gives Seven Tepees Youth Insight into Construction Industry

On Nov. 11, four participants of the Seven Tepees Youth Program in San Francisco got a sneak peek into the inner workings of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Medical Center at Mission Bay jobsite thanks to a career day tour organized by DPR San Francisco staff.

Led by Jamie Robertson, Ray Trebino, Ralph Eslick and others from the UCSF Mission Bay project team, along with two Seven Tepees employees, the four kids got a personalized tour of the future home of three breakthrough hospitals – children’s, women’s specialty and cancer – at San Francisco’s Mission Bay.

Steven Grandin, the DPR Foundation liaison for the San Francisco office and a Seven Tepees board member, said the youth were impressed with the size and complexity of the project and enjoyed riding in the elevators, putting on safety gear and seeing new construction before its public opening in 2015.

Following the tour, the group returned to the San Francisco office where Patricia Palomares and Patricia Kostiew Yale hosted a lunch, during which several DPR employees relayed a little bit of history about how they came to work at DPR. A consistent message, according to Grandin, was that the road planned is not necessarily the road taken and that they didn’t end up where they thought they would.

Additionally, Chris Rippingham gave an informative presentation on building information modeling (BIM) and how modern technology is constantly evolving at construction sites. Melanie Brittle also spoke about her role in training, as well as potential programs that she is considering teaching at Seven Tepees.

The career day event dovetails with the San Francisco office’s annual intern program, which hosted two Seven Tepees interns this past summer. In addition to routine administrative tasks, such as printing, filing and answering phone calls, the interns also toured several job sites during their stints. The program will be repeated in 2014.

Seven Tepees Youth Program is dedicated to impacting the lives of promising inner-city youth, fostering the skills they need to make lifelong positive choices and to create their own opportunities for success. The program targets inner city youth and works with them for a period of seven years, providing them with the building blocks that will help them create positive, successful futures. Youth are encouraged in social competency, academic skills, healthy self-esteem, exposure to new options, and increased understanding and appreciation of their natural environment.

Seven Tepees is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $825,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in 2012. Since December 2009, the DPR Foundation has supported the organization with grants totaling $230,000.

November 26, 2013

DPR’s Melissa King Goes to Disneyland for Girls Inc. of Orange County

Ever taken a spin on Disneyland’s King Arthur Carousel? How about 20? On Nov. 6, DPR’s Melissa King took that many revolutions on the ride as part of the Festival of Children Foundation’s “Carousel of Possible Dreams” charity event, which helps fund the dreams of its member organizations.

Representing the Women for Girls team, which supported Festival of Children Foundation member organization, Girls Inc. of Orange County, King volunteered to be a designated rider and solicited donations from DPR colleagues, family and friends. In just three weeks, she raised $1,200 to support Girls Inc., which is supported by the DPR Foundation and serves girls from underprivileged families, many of whom are hoping to be the first college graduates in their families. The event started at 7 a.m. and wrapped up two hours later, just before the park opened to the public.

King, who serves as the DPR Foundation liaison for the Southern California region and has long volunteered with Girls Inc. of Orange County, joined Women for Girls this past March. The offshoot organization, which is comprised largely of career women committed to helping girls become self-sufficient through interactive volunteer activities, exclusively supports Girls Inc. programs. Additionally, in 2014, King will take on a new leadership position with Girls Inc. of Orange County.

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.

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 30, 2013

DPR Orlando’s First Ever “Pumpkin Bowl” Draws Big Crowd from New Hope for Kids

Nearly 50 kids and their families from the DPR Foundation-supported New Hope for Kids organization came out for the first ever “Pumpkin Bowl” event at the Brunswick Wekiva Lanes in Apopka, FL. Held on Oct. 26, the nearly four-hour event was sponsored by DPR’s Orlando office.

According to DPR’s Maritza Mojica, who serves as a liaison between DPR’s Orlando office and the organization, the event was a success, with a great turnout and everyone having fun. In addition to bowling and enjoying DPR-provided refreshments, some of the children, and even their parents, wore costumes in anticipation of Halloween and participated in a costume contest, she said.

In total, nine DPR employees along with three family members came out to facilitate bowling, help with set up and clean up, and cheer the kids on. Because a lot of children that attend the organization are dealing with terminal illnesses or severe disabilities, Mojica said a lot of the volunteer time was spent just ensuring the families were able to enjoy their time together and bowl. The participating kids and teens ranged in age from five to 19 years old.

Based in Maitland, FL, New Hope for Kids assists Central Florida children in need through its two programs, the Center for Grieving Children, which helps children and families cope with the feelings of grief and loss after the death of a loved one, and Children’s Wish, which grants wishes to children, ages three to 18, diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

New Hope for Kids is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $825,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in 2012. Since December 2010, the DPR Foundation has supported New Hope for Kids with grants totaling $95,000. Additionally, DPR Orlando volunteers participate in annual back-to-school, holiday food and holiday toy drives benefitting the organization, among other activities.

October 28, 2013

DPR Volunteers the Key to Success for Annual Golf Tournaments

Two organizations supported by the DPR Foundation are set to receive an estimated $67,000 thanks to a pair of golf tournaments held in October in Atlanta and Sacramento.

First up was the “DPR Golf Invitational Benefitting Roberts Family Development Center (RFDC),” held Oct. 7. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, DPR increased its involvement from a major sponsorship level to hosting this year’s tournament for the Sacramento-based organization. According to DPR’s Sandi Graham, who serves as the Foundation liaison for the Sacramento office, this year’s event brought in more than $37,000 for RFDC.

Within DPR’s Sacramento office, a committee of eight, including Graham and the office’s Regional Manager Mark Cirksena, spearheaded the tournament effort. Graham said the committee’s meetings started on a monthly basis in April, but kicked into high gear as the tournament’s date drew closer. Aside from booking the venue – the event was once again held at the Morgan Creek Golf Course in Roseville, CA – the committee was responsible for soliciting sponsors and players, organizing the closing dinner and various raffles and golf challenges, and ensuring the day ran smoothly.

On tournament day, 26 volunteers – nearly a quarter of the Sacramento office’s 96 employees – attended the event, helping with everything from registration to raffle sales to aiding golfers on the course. In total, DPR employees contributed an estimated 300 volunteer hours planning and hosting the event. The dedication of the volunteers, which also included RFDC staff and supporters, made for a great tournament, according to Graham.

Following a day of golf, games and mulligans, including two hole-in-one opportunities and chipping and putting challenges, attendees were treated to dinner at the club, where they were shown a video introducing them to the work of RFDC. Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren, who represents northern Sacramento’s District 2, attended the event. The sponsors secured by DPR this year included architects, engineering firms, subcontractors, suppliers and RFDC supporters.

The next day, on Oct. 8, DPR’s Atlanta office, now known as DPR Hardin, hosted its 8th annual “Building Great Things Golf Tournament” at the River Club in Suwanee, GA. Drawing a record 27 sponsors, this year’s event netted an estimated total of $30,000 in sponsorships, raffle tickets and mulligans for the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club, part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta (BGCMA). This is the fourth year the event benefitted the club, which is one of 15 organizations supported by the DPR Foundation.

Andi King Wieczynski, who acts as a liaison between the club and DPR Hardin, said that a full fourth of the Atlanta office – 30 of its 120 employees – volunteered in some capacity to make the tournament a success. Even with its long track record, the event still requires a lot of planning, Wieczynski said, noting that about one half of this year’s sponsors were from previous years; the rest were new sponsors solicited by DPR Hardin project managers and project executives. In addition, Wieczynski relies on Steve Bartkowski, a DPR Hardin employee and former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, to help acquire the raffle prizes, as well as pose for pictures at the 17th hole.

The money raised through sponsorships covered the Atlanta event’s green and cart fees, dinner, reception, and prizes. Additionally, DPR Hardin volunteers secured A Printers Inc. as this year’s Bloody Mary Bar sponsor and The Color Spot as the Signage sponsor. Wieczynski added that the River Club provided the greens at a reduced fee and donated a foursome to the raffle.

Once again, kids from BGCMA joined the Atlanta event for the check presentation and pictures. This year, 10 kids from the George Washington Carver Club, which is in the same network of clubs as the Foundation-supported Brookhaven, were shuttled to the River Club. Sixteen-year-old Sir Dalvin Holloman, a candidate for the BGCMA “Youth of the Year” award, addressed the group during the tournament dinner.

Supported by DPR’s Sacramento office, the Roberts Family Development Center (RFDC) provides services in the Sacramento community. With a holistic approach focusing on early childhood and family education, economic empowerment and technology, RFDC’s goal is to nurture personal growth, strengthen families, and enhance community development and civic involvement. Since December 2008, the DPR Foundation has supported the center with grants totaling $190,000.

Supported by DPR’s Atlanta office, the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club, part of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta (BGCMA), promises to provide a quality developmental program that empowers metro Atlanta youth, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to become productive adults. Since December 2008, the DPR Foundation has supported the club with grants totaling $265,000. In February, BGCMA named DPR Construction its “County Corporate Partner of the Year” for its ongoing financial support as well as its dedication to hands-on volunteering at the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club.

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.