April 20, 2018

san diego office
The recent purchase of 16,500 metric tons of Verified Carbon Offsets certifies that DPR's offices in Phoenix, San Diego, Pasadena and Newport Beach are carbon neutral through 2020. Photo courtesy of Hewitt Garrison

At DPR Construction, the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions just shifted into neutral. Through a pilot program in the technical builder’s Southwest region, the recent purchase of 16,500 metric tons of Verified Carbon Offsets certifies that DPR's offices in Phoenix, San Diego, Pasadena and Newport Beach are carbon neutral through 2020.

Through the program, the Verified Carbon Offsets will balance the estimated amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere by employees and jobsites, with an equal amount of CO2 that’s captured through Green-e Climate, a global third-party certification program. DPR’s Southwest region is already home to highly sustainable office locations, with both San Diego and Phoenix achieving net-zero certification in 2016 and 2013, respectively. 

The investment in neutralizing the region’s carbon footprint is the next logical step in environmentally forward thinking, according to Brian Gracz, who leads DPR’s San Diego business unit. He cited the importance of setting and achieving tangible goals as part of the builder’s unwavering commitment to sustainability, particularly in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“DPR set a companywide goal in 2007 to reduce employee greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by the year 2015, and we exceeded it,” Gracz shared. “Not only did we reduce emissions by more than 30 percent, we received a Climate Leadership Award for Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management from the EPA in 2014.

indoor outdoor space
Environmentally friendly indoor/outdoor work spaces featured throughout DPR's Newport Beach office. Photo courtesy of Victor Muschetto

2020: a sustainable vision   
For the Southwest region, projections to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020 are based on several factors, including a 2013 carbon footprint study of the region’s offices and an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Climate Leadership Award. The 2020 projections also take into account an expected doubling of DPR’s staff in Phoenix and tripling of staff in Southern California.         

Just as Fortune Magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” for social responsibility—Walt Disney, Starbucks and GE among them—have a sustainability story to tell, so does DPR. In addition to earning International Living Future Institute (ILFI) net-zero energy certification through its net-zero energy offices in Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego and Washington, D.C., DPR has also implemented a number of solutions to reduce its carbon footprint at both the regional and national levels.

The 2007 national initiative began with the documentation of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions. A carbon footprint survey was conducted to determine individual employee emissions such as travel and commuting, as well as jobsite emissions. As a result, DPR implemented employee education campaigns, along with targeted reduction strategies such as the use of more efficient fleet vehicles.   

solar panels
Solar panels installed on the roof of DPR's Phoenix office. Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

The value of capturing carbon
While companies and individuals everywhere are embracing various forms of renewable energy, carbon likely will continue to fuel the energy demands of a global market. That’s why carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology can play an important role. According to the Carbon Capture & Storage Association, CCS can capture up to 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions produced by fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, and prevent it from entering the atmosphere.

As a member of the EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership, DPR is steadfast in continuing to do its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Purchased in bulk, the Southwest region’s 16,500 metric tons of Verified Carbon Offsets are sourced through a landfill gas project capture validated and registered under high-quality project standards through Green-e Climate. 

According to Gracz, the bulk price value of approximately $2 per ton made the investment in Verified Carbon Offsets to balance the region’s carbon emissions all the more worthwhile. Total cost for the Southwest region to remain carbon neutral through 2020: approximately $20,000. 

The investment is another step forward on an environmental path paved with voluntary actions and sustainable results.