Who we build is as important as what we build. The power of DPR has always been, and forever will be, our people…innovative, entrepreneurial, empowered, disciplined, caring, aggressive and bullet-smart.
This year for Mother’s Day, we want to pay tribute to the remarkable moms/mother figures of DPR employees. Thank you for helping to raise and nurture individuals who change the world we live in by building great things every day. Thank you for making a distinctive impact.
The response was overwhelming to the survey we sent out asking employees to provide images and answer the question, “What makes your mom/mother figure unique or special?” Following is a taste of the heartwarming and powerful stories. Happy Mother’s Day!
The new year will be a continuation of the current construction boom. Even if economic headwinds arise this year, the effects won’t be felt by active construction projects in 2019. Even in a busy market, the year ahead comes with challenges. DPR national core market experts each weigh in about a trend they’re watching that has the potential to impact customers.
“The Cloud is central to everything we do at work and at home. There is no short-term ease on demand. As such, the focus in 2019 will be minimal speculative builds with optimized speed-to-market strategies. The customers of our customers are exerting a lot of pressure on getting things online. Contractors need to use every tool at their disposal to ensure just-in-time delivery of materials and methods like prefabrication to shorten schedules. That said, the magic will happen in the planning stages; preconstruction and VDC services have the tools to really drive the process, especially in collaborative arrangements like design-build.”
“The single biggest driver in the market this year will be the younger generation of the workforce and the expectations they have for workplaces and lifestyles. On the office front, we’ve seen how spaces that offer flexibility and nudge toward healthy decisions and sustainability are preferred. Beyond that, in sectors like hospitality, the effect is even greater. With travel trends, it’s not OK to have a cookie cutter hotel anymore, and owners are spending more time looking at things like lighting to encourage selfies and food posts to social media. Cost is a pressure, but the need is real. We expect, even with a potential slowdown, we’ll see owners taking advantage of lower costs to renovate existing spaces to these new standards.”
“There continues to be a lot of discussion about how driving services to less acute facilities will ultimately lead to the increased development of outpatient facilities. However, the majority of work we continue to see are major patient tower expansions and renovations to existing acute care facilities. This is due to more access to insurance, an increasingly older population and a desire to capture market share with nicer amenities and newer technologies.
“That being said, healthcare systems continue to look at doing more with less to increase profitability due to lower reimbursement rates. Prefabrication and modularization, particularly for things like exterior skin and headwalls to corridor racks and full bathroom pods, will be key in helping customers maximize their returns. The good news is this is driven by more access to insurance, so systems are aiming to support a larger share of the population and providing key services to those who need it.”
“We keep hearing from customers that their biggest uncertainty is knowing what majors will be in demand in five to ten years. Plus, technology changes quickly. As a result, we see high demand for lab/STEM/STEAM spaces, but with an emphasis on flexibility. How can we best advise a customer on design and construction of a new space that they can literally roll in new equipment in a few years to meet student and professor needs? The way we address that issue will be a key issue in 2019."
“Manufacturing is trending towards scaling-out instead of scaling-up to keep pace with exciting new life science discoveries that demand a more targeted and personalized approach to treating diseases. We know that there is a trend toward smaller production spaces, where smaller lots can be produced before making the investment to manufacture at large scale. On the R&D front, there is a growing number of projects that are converting office buildings into lab buildings; that will involve some very technical needs from a contractor. Additionally, there is more reliance on data, so we see a convergence among the interests of life sciences, healthcare and data center customers.”
Working together at a confidential life sciences project in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, project engineers Devin Kennedy and Ben Salsman noticed that their customer was disposing of a few old bioreactors. Designed to grow and develop cells to extract proteins that are used to create injectable medicines, bioreactors are an important aspect of life sciences–a piece of equipment that engineers usually learn about out of a book.
Wanting to gain more hands-on MEP experience in DPR’s culture of continuous learning, Kennedy and Salsman decided to turn the discarded 60-liter bioreactor into a learning tool. With a core team of DPR’s technical experts, they brainstormed what they could do, such as adding valves and instruments, building a control panel and developing a sequence of operations. They stepped up to the biggest challenge: making the out-of-service bioreactor fully functional.
A team of 20 project engineers in DPR’s Raleigh-Durham office set out to create a physically self-contained bioreactor on one skid and understand how its components (sensors, valves, pumps, controls, wiring) interacted in a highly controlled, pressurized environment. Through hands-on workdays led by DPR experts focused on mechanical, controls and electrical aspects of the bioreactor, the project engineers gained experience from design through commissioning.
Focusing on the “why,” not just the “what,” the project engineers looked at the bioreactor as a holistic system that helped them connect to DPR’s work. They gained hands-on experience with concepts including controlled automation systems, welding and wiring–all of which reappear in projects across core markets, and all of which project engineers typically don’t get to touch with their own hands.
“Knowing how the bioreactors work, and knowing how to build them through their own experiences only makes our project engineers better team members for our customers,” said David Ross, who leads DPR’s life sciences core market in the Southeast. “On a broader level, Project Tinman helped them better understand our life science customers, as well as the perspectives of trade partners and equipment manufacturers.”
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.
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.
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.
DPR Construction celebrated the placement of the final beams on the highly anticipated Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) Coastal Regional Crime Lab today.
Once complete, the new center will allow investigators to examine projectiles, drugs and biological samples from crime scenes in 23 Georgia counties, and provide forensic biology services for another seven counties in the state. It will replace the current lab facility on Savannah’s Southside that is more than 30 years old.
The new facility will stand three stories tall and will be able to house up to 60 employees. The new crime lab is expected to be complete in the Spring of 2019.
“This is a terrific day for us to commend our partners and everyone involved in bringing this much anticipated facility to life,” said Deborah Anderson-Purcell, chief of facilities and support operations for the GBI. “DPR’s extensive knowledge of the area and the topography of coastal land we are building on has resulted in successful execution of the project to date.”
DPR has worked with more than 20 local trade partners and collectively put in more than 22,000 man-hours to reach today’s “topping out” milestone.
“At DPR, we exist to build great things. Collaboration is in our DNA; we know that to deliver the best project we need to work with the very best local trade partners. Today is about celebrating their collective effort,” said DPR's Darryl Strunk. Strunk estimates that at project completion, more than 40 local trade partners will have participated in the project.
The new crime lab will include a three-story laboratory and medical examiner’s office. Because of the sensitive nature of the equipment the facility will house, DPR has utilized the latest BIM technology to model all the components of the building while at the same time implementing lean construction practices throughout the entire construction process.
Energy efficiency is a challenge for many mission critical, energy-intensive data centers, but top pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck and Company’s new Tier III data center facility in Kenilworth, New Jersey has achieved just that. The facility recently received coveted ENERGY STAR certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Delivered by the integrated design-build team of Merck, DPR, Gensler and CCG, the data center has been commissioned to satisfy Merck’s stringent design criteria and performance-based certification process to earn ENERGY STAR designation. This is the first ENERGY STAR certified data center for Merck.
Designed and built in just eight months, the integrated team delivered the facility a full month ahead of schedule. The project scope included conversion of a one-story, steel-framed manufacturing building into a new state-of-the-art energy efficient data center. The 42,000-sq.-ft. facility includes two data halls and administrative support space. Major components include a chilled water cooling system utilizing prefabricated chiller plants and computer room air handler units in each data hall, and an electrical system comprising two power train systems in an N+1 redundancy configuration. Each of those systems consists of switchgear with dedicated standby generators and four uninterruptable power supply modules.
DPR’s Brett Korn pointed out that the data center’s ENERGY STAR designation translates into real operational savings for Merck, estimated at around 5 percent of the facility’s typical operating budget. Achieving ENERGY STAR status also highlights the responsibility global market leaders like Merck place on reducing carbon footprint and lowering operating costs through environmentally responsible development.
Korn added, “ENERGY STAR certification shows that a company is looking to reduce costs and to operate the facility in the most efficient way possible, even while focused on creating highly reliable infrastructure. In data centers, you’re putting in redundant equipment which can impact energy efficiency. By installing highly energy efficient data processing equipment that allows the facility to operate at higher temperatures, Merck achieved maximum efficiencies and lowered its operating costs. Monitoring and documenting the equipment’s performance for a full year afterwards was key and takes time and patience.”
Engaging a design-build team with the level of technical construction expertise and data center experience that Merck, DPR, CCG and Gensler possess was also crucial to the project’s success. The project team focused on achieving energy efficiency goals from the onset. The team meticulously tracked and adhered to performance milestones to help the facility achieve both ENERGY STAR status and LEED Silver certification from the US Green Building Council.
At the end of the day, Korn pointed out that multiple factors contributed to driving the project forward to successful completion and to helping it attain ENERGY STAR status, including:
a knowledgeable motivated client committed to achieving specific energy-related savings goals and willing to take a different path in the design, construction, operation and monitoring of their data center facility;
a highly experienced project team that pursued targeted energy-related goals from day one, understanding if any system deviated from pre-established guidelines, it could not negatively impact the energy consumption of the facility;
the appointment of specific individuals on the project team responsible for actively tracking and monitoring the design criteria, systems, and performance indicators to ensure milestones were met; and
the team’s willingness to innovate by employing lean construction and extensive levels of prefabrication (estimated at 25 percent of the facility).
This data center project has allowed Merck to meet its business objectives in the region while building a solid foundation for future work and forging a lasting bond between DPR and Merck. “Merck’s mission is ‘Inventing for Life’ by improving the quality of life for the world,” shared Michael J. Abbatiello, who oversaw creation of Merck’s design criteria document which outlines the required technical specifications used for bidding, detail designing, commissioning and operating the facility. “Not only do energy efficient facilities reduce operating costs, but they also represent the environmental benefits that align with our mission.”
The Merck project was DPR’s first major new customer for its New Jersey office, which initially opened in 2008 and has doubled in size, serving customers throughout the state.
ENERGY STAR certification requires that energy consumption data be continuously tracked and professionally verified using an online reporting tool via EPA, hitting specific benchmarks. Recertification is required annually. For more specifics, go to www.energystar.gov/ENERGYSTARS.
Most projects hold topping out ceremonies when the last beam is put into place atop a structure. However at Coda, Georgia Tech's new high-powered computing center in midtown Atlanta, the project team held a “bottoming out” celebration marking the completion of mass excavation.
Once complete, Coda will be a 750,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use complex near Atlanta’s Downtown Connector and Georgia Tech’s campus at Tech Square. The building, which will occupy a full city block, will feature a 630,000-sq.-ft., 21-floor Class “T” Office Tower, an 80,000-sq.-ft. high-performance computing (HPC) data center, 50,000-sq.-ft. office, retail and lobby space, and 330,000-sq.-ft. parking garage.
Despite above average rainfall, lost days due to weather, and working in a downtown environment with no laydown space, the team is collaboratively managing and maintaining the overall project schedule.
The following numbers help illustrate the magnitude of this effort:
87,043 work-hours with no lost time incidents
160,000 cubic yards of soil and rock removed
15,000 truckloads of soil hauled
190 piles driven
Five levels of below-grade parking — enough space to hide a four-story office building below ground
Enough water pumped out of the site to fill a 3/4" garden hose nearly reaching the moon and back
DPR is working with the development team of Portman Holdings and NextTier HD on the project, which is slated for completion by the end of 2018.
This spring, in honor of International Women’s Day, International Women’s Week, Women in Construction Week and Women’s History Month, DPR Construction launched a monthly blog series dedicated to sharing stories of women who build great things at DPR and across the AEC industry.
If every woman in the workforce did not work for 24 hours, it would put a $21 billion dollar dent in country's gross domestic product—without factoring in the economic value of women's unpaid labor. If all that caretaking work were factored into GDP, it would surge by more than 25 percent (Center for American Progress, Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Profitability increases by 15 percent for firms that have at least 30 percent female executives versus firms with no women in the top tier positions (Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY).
As of 2016, there are 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing 9 million people and generating an astounding $1.6 trillion in revenues. Between 2007 and 2016, the growth in the number of women-owned firms has outpaced the national average by five times and business revenues have increased at a rate that’s 30 percent higher than the national average during this same period (Fortune).
Construction is a traditionally male-dominated industry that is only 9.3 percent women (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The Celebrating Women Who Build blog series tells stories of empowered women, who are successfully executing complex, technical projects for some of the world's most progressive and admired companies. The goal is to help connect, inspire, develop and advance women in the industry as they build meaningful careers—whether it’s as a PE, a PX, an architect or an owner.
As we continue to share our Celebrating Women Who Build profiles, join DPR in creating a strong, supportive environment where all builders can thrive–today and every day.
Celebrating Women Who Build Blog Series
Gretchen Kinsella The Celebrating Women Who Build series kicked off with the story of Gretchen Kinsella. Kinsella is DPR’s youngest project executive in Phoenix, managing the largest project that we have ever built in the area to date—the $318-million renovation of Banner University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP). On the last day of 2016, she gave birth to her daughter in one of the very same rooms she built back in 2004.
ENR Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference After her story was published by ENR, Gretchen Kinsella shared her personal/career journey in an inspiring keynote address at ENR's Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference in San Francisco.
Vic Julian Vic Julian, DPR's first female superintendent, joined the company in 2000 as a walk-on carpentry apprentice. Her expertise continued to develop and grow as she became a foreman, assistant superintendent and superintendent. Julian now specializes in managing ground-up construction and large corporate campuses across the Bay Area, embracing her identity as a builder to lead challenging, technical projects.
Lisa Lingerfelt Early in her career, Lisa Lingerfelt struggled with self-confidence, but challenged herself to develop her capabilities through experience and expertise. Today, Lingerfelt manages large-scale, multi-phase projects in a senior leadership role in DPR's Mid-Atlantic region. As DPR has grown, she has grown with the company. She was also named to ENR’s Top 20 Under 40 list in 2013, and was recognized as a leader in the industry on Constructech’s Women in Construction list in 2015.
SHEBUILDS Team DPR’s Rena Crittendon and Arundhati Ghosh organized an all-female team of builders, engineers and trades to complete a series of home renovations for an 88-year-old quilter named Elnora, as part of Rebuilding Together San Francisco's SHEBUILDS day.
Andrea Weisheimer A project executive in Austin, Andrea Weisheimer is passionate about balancing the structural design complexities of tall buildings with creating cost efficiencies for her customers. Growing up with a penchant for painting and design, Weisheimer now mentors a high school intern who shares her interest in art.
Lauren Snedeker Lauren Snedeker, a project manager in Atlanta, is managing University of Georgia’s design-build improvements to the west end zone at Sanford Stadium, the tenth largest college football stadium in the country. Passionate about developing the next generation of builders, Snedeker aims to be the strong mentor her interns and project engineers can turn to–a role that was missing from her life early on in her career when she was unsure what she wanted to do.
Deepti Bhadkamkar A project manager specializing in complex MEP systems across core markets, Bhadkamkar’s passion is figuring out ways to make laboratories, data centers and hospitals smarter and more efficient for the people who will eventually occupy them. She most recently managed MEP systems for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, a new 521,000-sq.-ft. building that opened in December 2017 and more than doubled the size of the existing pediatric and obstetric hospital campus in Palo Alto, California.
Connecting and Inspiring Women Who Build in Austin As part of a Celebrating Women Who Build panel in Austin, Melissa Neslund, Armbrust & Brown; Janki DePalma, DCI Engineers; Katie Blair, Charles Schwab; Pollyanna Little, STG Design—along with DPR’s Weisheimer and Bryan Lofton discussed how to connect, inspire, develop and advance women in the industry as they build meaningful careers—whether it’s as a PE, a PX, an architect or an owner.
Whitney Dorn A project executive leading a 73-acre corporate campus project in Irvine, California, Whitney Dorn sees trust and respect as the foundation for any highly functioning team. She hopes to help the next generation of builders see themselves in this industry, picture the career paths ahead of them, and know that building great things is what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
Kali Bonnell After starting her career at DPR as an intern, Kali Bonnell grew both her skills and confidence in DPR’s flat organizational structure. Each opportunity helped build her experience to prepare her for the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute project, her first job as a full-fledged project manager. The 90 percent female design-build team of architects, designers, builders and owner’s representatives shared a vision for creating the 45,800-sq.-ft. comprehensive women’s center with the patient in mind.
Last week, Training Magazine recognized DPR’s Learning and Development efforts—we ranked 26th on the magazine’s 2017 Training Top 125 list. Many of our customers were also recognized on the list, which includes companies from all sectors. Congratulations to all the firms recognized! Read the full article here.
A bit of background on the award: The Training Top 125 ranks companies that excel at employee learning and development, and it is determined by assessing a range of qualitative and quantitative factors. According to the magazine, “Training Top 125 Award winners are the organizations with the most successful learning and development programs in the world—and the Top 125 has been the premier learning industry awards program for 16 years.” DPR has appeared on the list six times. In addition, last year, Training Magazine named DPR’s Melissa King an Emerging Training Leader.
DPR's Melissa King (bottom row, right) celebrates a successful Current Best Practices training session in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Melissa was named an Emerging Training Leader by Training Magazine. (Photo courtesy: Melissa King)
A few examples of DPR’s learning opportunities:
A national DPR training initiative that helps our project engineers (PEs) become even better, more well-rounded, technical builders is in line with our core value of “Ever Forward.” PEs from around the country converge at one DPR region for the week, where participants have long days of actual physical building, lessons learned from the day, team-building events at night, and DPR culture story telling. The unique experience also incorporates the company’s strong commitment to giving back to the community—in a recent session, participants donated chicken coops they built to local schools.
Project engineers strap on their boots and learn how to lay concrete during a build day with DPR's self-perform work concrete team. (Photo courtesy: Everett Rosette)
The Energy Project is an approach we used on one of our complex hospital projects, which extended beyond our employees and included the engineers, architects, subcontractors and customer on that project team. The concept behind The Energy Project is that by raising our own personal energy levels, we can increase our personal and professional performance. Looking at four aspects of energy (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual), the team’s overall energy improved by 43 percent as a direct result of training.
Those are just two examples of the diverse learning opportunities we offer, which range from focusing on technical aspects of construction to people skills (self-awareness, conflict resolution, time/life management, etc.). Using data from Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Critical Success Factors and more performance metrics, our training concentrates on building better builders.
At DPR, we are a learning organization and believe who we build is as important as what we build. We recognize that continuous learning and development are keys to the success of individuals and project teams.
Who we build is as important as what we build: a group at Current Best Practices participates in an interactive quality control exercise. (Photo courtesy: Melissa King)