We believe that building sustainable structures is simply the right thing to do. We’ve even built three net-zero energy buildings as our own offices in Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco. Read some of our green stories and thoughts from some of our over 400 LEED accredited Professionals.



November 10, 2020

Sustainability Strategies for Any Project Type

Mass timber, healthy spaces, adaptive reuse, resiliency and more are leading discussion topics in the realm of sustainability.

Sustainability Strategies, High-Performance and Healthy Spaces for Any Project Type overlay on timber clad modern workspace.

We've put many resources in one place as the sustainability community gathers virtually for Greenbuild this week. Through experiences on our own projects and for our customers, we believe a healthy and high-performing built environment can be constructed affordably for any project type in its core markets.


Mass Timber: Lessons Learned from DPR Construction Projects

Mass timber continues to gain ground as an innovative alternative building material. Engineered for loads similar in strength to structural materials like concrete and steel, mass timber allows crews to build tall, with a lighter, natural, low-carbon and high-quality resource. As its adoption grows, questions inevitably arise about the do’s and don’ts of its deployment. Continue reading >

Mass timber installation in progress
DPR incorporated mass timber when constructing its Sacramento office. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

Building for Resilience in Workspaces: A Series

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there has been significant speculation about what the pandemic will mean for workplaces in the future. The return to the office will happen, and when it does, it will look different for every organization. What will be important, though, is making sure offices are set up in ways to minimize further disruptions and optimize the health of their occupants. Through the design and construction approaches, businesses can plan for resiliency in the face of not only this pandemic, but other potentialities that could disrupt business for weeks or months at a time. Continue reading >

DPR's Sacramento office with spaced-out workstations and daylighting.
High performance can be achieved even in instances where existing buildings were renovated, like DPR's WELL certified office in Sacramento. Photo courtesy of Chad Davies

Revitalizing Urban Areas Through Adaptive Reuse

RENOVATING AGING BUILDINGS TO HIGH PERFORMANCE

In a shift from the midcentury trend of downtown abandonment and blight due to the rise of suburbs, adaptive reuse has been gaining ground—a shift The National Trust for Historic Preservation calls “reurbanism.” Adaptive reuse differs from restoration or historic preservation because it fundamentally changes the purpose of a building to meet different occupant needs. It creates an opportunity to not only update the aesthetics of a structure, but to push the envelope in design and construction by transforming aging structures into high performing buildings. Continue reading >

Exterior of DPR's renovated Sacramento Office
The adaptive reuse of an existing structure to create its new Sacramento location is part of DPR’s larger strategy to commit itself to green building and sustainable design. Photo courtesy of Chad Davies

Creating Healthy Spaces

PEOPLE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ASSET IN A BUILDING. BUILDINGS SHOULD SUPPORT THEIR WELL-BEING.

We’ve all walked into a room and been overly distracted by smells, lighting, temperature, noise or other environmental factors. We all know the resulting feeling of a headache coming on and the desire to move to a different space where we can focus. The places where we work should be designed and built to encourage our ability to do the things we’re best at, rather than distract from them. How much productivity is lost when whole groups are working in less than ideal environments? Continue reading >

Living wall inside of DPR's Austin office space, surrounded by chairs and desks.
Living wall inside DPR's Austin office space.

Miller Hull Studio Earns Petal Certification for Sustainable Design

The Miller Hull Partnership recently received Living Building Challenge Petal Certification for the renovation of its San Diego studio. Built by DPR Construction, the 4,600-square-foot tenant improvement included upgrades to the open office, conference rooms and model shop. Continue reading >

Exterior of the Miller Hull Studio
The Miller Hull studio in San Diego was the first project to earn Petal Certification under the latest version of the Living Building Challenge. This photo was taken prior to COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

The Path to Net-Zero Energy

HOW DPR'S LIVING LABS ARE PIONEERING NET-ZERO ENERGY BUILDING CERTIFICATION

In the ever-evolving sustainable design and construction arena, many owners and project teams are setting their sights on a goal that seemed improbable just a short time ago: creating commercial buildings that produce as much or more energy as they consume each year, known as net-zero energy buildings. Continue reading >

Illustrated collection of building elements used in the Path to Net-Zero Energy
Net-Zero Energy features, clockwise from top left: 1. Rooftop photovoltaics 2. Solatubes 3. Expansive windows 4. Rooftop solar thermal water heating system 5. Solar chimney 6. LED lighting 7. AER-DEC sink and ultra low flush plumbing fixtures 8. Living walls with live plants 9. Building performance monitoring 10. Big Ass fans 11. Vampire shutoff switch 12. Operable windows and roll-up doors for fresh air and natural light

DPR Helps WRNS Studio Office Seek LBC Materials Petal Certification

DPR Construction played a key role in the extensive efforts of WRNS Studio's Seattle office to seek Living Building Challenge Materials Petal certification, which would be a first for DPR’s Northwest region. WRNS desired a higher standard of sustainability with the project, a concept that aligns with DPR’s sustainability goals. Continue reading >

Interior workspace and desks at the WRNS Studio Office with views of Elliott Bay
The 5,500-sq.-ft. office, with views of Elliott Bay, was completed in 2018.

Earth Day 2020: Data that Counts in the Built Environment

This Earth Day, DPR is taking stock of its impacts on the planet and communities where it operates and reflecting on the environmental performance of its office operations, especially the observation that high-performance buildings at market rates are realistic. Continue reading >

Living wall behind a DPR sign in the Austin office.
Living wall inside DPR's Austin office space.


August 5, 2020

DPR Helps WRNS Studio Office Seek LBC Materials Petal Certification

Deck
WRNS desired a higher standard of sustainability with the project, a concept that aligns with DPR’s sustainability goals. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

DPR Construction played a key role in the extensive efforts of WRNS Studio's Seattle office to seek Living Building Challenge Materials Petal certification, which would be a first for DPR’s Northwest region. WRNS desired a higher standard of sustainability with the project, a concept that aligns with DPR’s sustainability goals.

“It was important to WRNS that our team conduct a full evaluation and analysis of the requirements of LEED, WELL and the Living Building Challenge for this tenant improvement project. DPR priced all potential credits and opportunities to find a best value solution. Upon final review, it was agreed upon that we would only achieve LBC Certification,” said Cameron Thomas, DPR’s project engineer for the job.

Workspace
The 5,500-sq.-ft. office, with views of Elliott Bay, was completed in 2018. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

After the analysis, it was determined that the best value for WRNS and WRNS employees came from pursuing the LBC Materials Petal certification. However, in addition, WRNS decided to pick and choose from some of the best value items for WELL and LEED, especially when it came to upgrading some of the HVAC performance and light fixtures.

The 5,500-sq.-ft. office, with views of Elliott Bay, was completed in 2018. The detailed process of Petal certification took shape during the project, with the entire process of documentation taking 15 months.

Meeting room
While it is common practice to get disclosure information for some materials, obtaining this information about every single material on-site set a new bar. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

To achieve LBC Materials Petal certification, the DPR team had to approach mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) work differently due to the LBC’s Red List of disapproved products and materials. When mass produced, these materials can pollute the environment, have negative side effects on workers or contain unsustainable components. As a result, the team also needed to reassess their approach to the HVAC work, helping it function more efficiently with the already-existing core equipment. Additionally, high-end and Red List-compliant LED lighting fixtures were installed.

“Hitting this goal took strong teamwork,” Thomas said. “We collaborated with several key trade partners for mechanical and electrical needs. As one coherent team, we were able to evaluate all the systems on how well they would achieve the available credits to win certification.”

Kitchen
After the analysis, it was determined that the best value for WRNS and WRNS employees came from pursuing the LBC Materials Petal certification. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Material vetting, final selections and purchasing were all key phases of this project, requiring careful research and documentation from DPR, as LBC submission includes disclosure of all the materials and components used. In order to request those specific pieces of information, DPR relied on trade partners and manufacturers to be knowledgeable about what materials and components make up each individual product being used in construction.

While it is common practice to get disclosure information for some materials, obtaining this information about every single material on-site set a new bar. However, knowing that failure to meet this “zero tolerance” aspect would have stripped WRNS of their certification, the team rose to the challenge.

“In any other project, a request like this would be well beyond normal practice, but DPR believed in the customer’s vision for the project. Both the design and construction teams faced a high learning curve when searching for the right materials and required information for the submittal, but we’re able to share the knowledge that we gained across our business now,” said Thomas.

Meeting room
To achieve LBC Materials Petal certification, the DPR team had to approach mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) work differently due to the LBC’s Red List of disapproved products and materials. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

July 21, 2020

Miller Hull Studio Earns Petal Certification for Sustainable Design

Exterior of Miller Hull San Diego studio
The Miller Hull studio in San Diego was the first project to earn Petal Certification under the latest version of the Living Building Challenge. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

The Miller Hull Partnership recently received Living Building Challenge Petal Certification for the renovation of its San Diego studio. Built by DPR Construction, the 4,600-square-foot tenant improvement included upgrades to the open office, conference rooms and model shop.

“Through efficient building systems and responsible sourcing, Miller Hull was able to reach their sustainability goals and raise the bar for modern green projects,” said DPR project manager John Kay. “Because the Living Building Challenge is based on a building’s performance rather than projections, we’re demonstrating that these ambitious standards can be realized in a commercial tenant improvement.”

Miller Hull San Diego Open Office
The San Diego studio successfully pursued six of the seven Petals including place, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

To meet energy conservation goals and achieve net positive energy, the building features a 24-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array on the roof and was designed to take advantage of natural lighting in the sunny Southern California climate. In the first year of operations, the studio produced 30 percent more energy than it used. Fresh air can be accessed from almost anywhere in the space through manually operated, full-height windows. There is no artificial air conditioning in the building.

Salvaged and Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood as well as locally sourced materials helped the project reach the Materials Petal. The project team also prioritized manufacturer transparency and products without materials or chemicals of concern.

It took vigilance and an integrated approach to attain the net positive waste standard during the construction phase. “We challenged conventional waste management practices and reinforced the importance of rigor with the diversion work,” said Kay. “The so-called ‘waste’ became a valuable resource. The interior wall paneling removed during demolition was reused for bracing and protection during construction. Excavated soil was repurposed for offsite gardening and landscaping.”

Kitchen at the Miller Hull San Diego studio
The Miller Hull office produces 30 percent more energy than it uses. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

The Miller Hull San Diego studio is the first project certified under the fourth version of the Living Building Challenge, which continues to set visionary but attainable building goals, while focusing on the relationship between impact and effort in the design and construction industry. It is also the first Living Building Challenge certified project in San Diego County.

Presented by the International Living Future Institute, Petal Certification falls under the larger Living Building Challenge program and is awarded to projects that achieve at least three complete “Petals,” or performance categories. The San Diego studio successfully pursued six of the seven Petals including place, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty.

Interior of Miller Hull San Diego office
The 4,600-square-foot studio meets rigorous performance standards based on a building’s performance rather than projections. Photo courtesy of Chipper Hatter

May 26, 2020

Resilience in Workspaces Part 4: A WELL Future

This is Part 4 in a series where DPR experts look at ways to build resiliency into commercial spaces as we move through the COVID pandemic and beyond. Part 1 looked at improvements that can be made to existing spaces. Part 2 and Part 3 examined ways to spread out individuals within a workforce and technology for remote asset management, respectively. This final segment discusses planning for healthier future spaces.

At some point, the pandemic will subside, the economy will recover and true, long-term planning will begin. When it does, it is likely that the momentum that was building behind healthy buildings and systems like WELL Certification will become mainstream.

The advantages of healthy workplaces have been highlighted from business researchers to innovation consultants to the medical community. Now, as many firms that are bringing workers back put measures including temperature checks into place, employees will be scrutinizing how well their offices support their health.

“We believe in the benefits of WELL from a standpoint of increasing productivity, lowering absenteeism and more,” said Matt Murphy, DPR Construction’s core markets leader. “The primary reason we’ve built our new offices to WELL standards, though, is because of the tangible benefits to the health of our employees.”

DPR's Sacramento office with spaced-out workstations and daylighting.
High performance can be achieved even in instances where existing buildings were renovated, like DPR's WELL certified office in Sacramento. Photo courtesy of Chad Davies

Including the 1918 flu pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic is the second worldwide event of this scale in 100 years. For anyone aiming to build higher performing buildings with a lifespan of 50-100 years, it’s worth considering that pandemics have more in common with earthquakes than hurricanes: they’re less frequent, but when they happen, it’s a widespread disruption.

“In places where earthquakes are common, we’ve taken a lot of measures to ensure the resiliency of the built environment,” Murphy said. “Shouldn’t we do the same with health and doing things to minimize disruption should another pandemic occur within our lifetimes?”

Planning for a truly healthy workspace, though, isn’t something to do after design has taken place. Buildings and workplaces with the best results and returns from green building strategies are the ones that started with integrated approaches from the start, setting high performance as goals and letting those goals shape the design and construction process. Achieving the same sort of results with WELL Certification takes a similar approach.

Living Walls filled with plants are pictured in DPR's Austin, Texas office.
WELL Certified spaces, like DPR's Austin, TX office, could be the way of the future. Photo courtesy of Peter Molick

“Our customers were already facing high bottom line expenses for health insurance and wellness programs,” Murphy said. “While there are cultural factors that affect employee behaviors, we’re finding a whole-building approach to wellness and health can influence culture. Putting measures in for physical distancing will be important, but so will building systems and materials that hinder spread of disease. Designs that help with circulation and provide employees with comfortable spaces to have physical distance while collaborating and feeling productive make a difference, too.”

Ultimately, putting all these strategies together should lower any given business’ exposure to pandemics or other disruptions.

“Businesses need to know their ability to operate can move forward. Employees want the peace of mind that their work and lives won’t be disrupted. Every business is connected to supply chains and customers and the larger economy,” Murphy said. “Any office that moves to make its own operations resilient makes our entire economy more resilient.”

April 22, 2020

Earth Day 2020: Data that Counts in the Built Environment

We love the things we build, and we care about how we build them. While the world has changed in recent months, the importance of the built environment and high-performing spaces remains the same.

Since completing its first LEED-certified project twenty years ago, DPR Construction’s approach to sustainability and wellness centers on collaboration and data-driven decision-making. DPR leverages integrated project delivery to reduce waste of all sorts throughout the construction process, and it has proven true triple bottom line benefits for customers, communities and employees.

This Earth Day, DPR is taking stock of its impacts on the planet and communities where it operates and reflecting on the environmental performance of its office operations, especially the observation that high-performance buildings at market rates are realistic.

Biophilic design encourages connection to the natural world and can reduce stress while increasing productivity, creativity and wellbeing. Photo courtesy of Peter Molick

Lessons from Living Labs

Anyone who has worked on an office renovation knows the importance of setting a vision for the design. But meeting project goals and making informed decisions – while preserving the budget –takes data and experience.

Testing out leading-edge design and construction methods is the primary driver behind DPR’s “Living Labs,” which are new and renovated regional offices that DPR brings online. Each office is an opportunity to think about space differently, and to set goals not only for functionality and effectiveness, but also comfort and enjoyment.

With each Living Lab completion, there’s more evidence that renovations can be done to high performance standards and competitive rates, and that sustainable design and construction works in every climate. These offices endorse multiple green building rating systems, including LEED, WELL, Fitwell and ILFI Zero Energy certification, and DPR intends to scale up certifications across future offices. Each one employs a unique combination of green strategies, but some features standout:

Photo courtesy of David Hardman
  • San Diego: The DPR San Diego office used a broad-based natural daylighting strategy which includes Solatubes and south facing roof monitors, which reduce overall lighting requirements. As a result, the building performs 97% better than similarly modeled buildings.
  • Phoenix: DPR’s Phoenix office was the second office in the U.S. to achieve net-zero energy certification and incorporates several passive heating/cooling solutions. These include including 87 operable windows and a stack ventilation system which draws air up and out through the building.
  • San Francisco: As the first net-zero energy building in the city, the San Francisco office is a textbook case on adaptive reuse. Unique circumstances included no space between buildings, cast shadows, and the need to “right-size” the roof PV system for foggy weather and structure upgrades.
  • Washington D.C.: In aiming for net-zero energy status, the team leading the DPR Washington, D.C. office used a combination of passive and active strategies first and then focused on offsetting with a 141kW rooftop PV system, which more than makes up for the building’s minimal insulation loss.
  • Austin: Living walls are one of the most noticeable elements of DPR’s Austin office, which is the first WELL-certified building in the city. Biophilic design encourages connection to the natural world and can reduce stress while increasing productivity, creativity and wellbeing.
  • Sacramento: The relocation and renovation of DPR’s Sacramento office included a 6,000-sq.-ft. mass timber addition – the first cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure in the city. CLT panels were prefabbed to reduce onsite waste, and timber requires less energy to produce and has lower embodied carbon.

Look to the Data

Each office employs different techniques to achieve and maintain its green performance status because technology, systems and equipment are constantly evolving. And more than ever before, there are tools available to demonstrate that environmental performance equates to business and financial returns.

DPR partners with Lucid to optimize building performance and metrics tracking. The Lucid BuildingOS system allows for monitoring and sharing building water and power consumption, and photovoltaic energy production in real time. In the last 12 months, five representative DPR offices produced 448,751 kWh from PV installations, and consumed approximately 601, 116 kWh – making up nearly 75 percent of the energy used. As DPR continues to expand its use of the dashboard, keeping track of stats over time will help the organization figure out strategies for further reduction, and continually optimize its offices.

Living Labs may be the first space where DPR tests new approaches to sustainability, but the data on cost and performance provide reference points for all building owners seeking to achieve big results at market rate.

September 26, 2019

DPR Construction Shows off the Spirit of Austin with Sustainable Office Design

Built by employees, Austin's net-zero office becomes first WELL-certifiedworkplace in the city.
"The barn doors at the Innovation Room by Austin-based wood artist Aaron Michalovic are my personal favorite design element,” Jason Carr, who serves as project superintendent. Photo courtesy of Peter Molick

Since 1994, DPR Construction has had a home in Austin, growing its scope to projects ranging from tenant improvements to landmark jobs that have dramatically altered the downtown skyline.

Now, it has a new office that even better aligns DPR’s approach to business with the vibrant Austin community.

DPR’s Austin office is now in the up-and-coming East Side. The newly-built office building, located off Comal Street not far from the popular 6th street district, is slated to be the first WELL-certified office in the city while also pursuing Zero Net Energy certification. It proudly reflects DPR’s self-perform work culture and values, as well as the personality of Austin.

In a city where environmental care is boasted just as much as stock market returns, being “green” is no longer good enough when it comes to standing out in this community. Thankfully, sustainability plays a very important role in the way DPR operates. From local community initiatives in the places where it builds to decreasing its own operational environmental footprint, sustainable building operations is embedded in DPR’s DNA.

With the move to Austin’s East Side neighborhood, DPR is strategically positioning itself to be a groundbreaking presence in the area by showing what is possible for sustainability, while being closely integrated in a community with a firm grasp on that value.

“Making the East Side DPR’s new home is special for a number of reasons,” said DPR’s Austin Business Unit Leader Bryan Kent. “Aside from East Austin’s growth, the thriving entertainment district, the eclectic local business and diverse community, the Foundry’s location offers a new proximity to many of our clients, partners and projects.”

Built by DPR employees and designed by Interior Architects, the building marks the fifth net-zero energy office built by the company across the country (DPR recently added its sixth, in Sacramento). Not only does this effort have a positive impact on the neighborhoods they reside in, but systems and sustainable measures tested in these “living labs” allow for replication and inspiration on other projects. It also allows the chance to implement more efficient technologies that may emerge in the future.

Austin's iconic "I love you so much" wall mural, with a DPR twist of course, is featured in the front lobby. Photo courtesy of Peter Molick

“The overall environment of the space is collaborative, inviting, and open. The barn doors at the Innovation Room by Austin-based wood artist Aaron Michalovic are my personal favorite design element,” said Jason Carr, project superintendent. These doors add a striking visual that greets employees and visitors upon entry along with a floor-to-ceiling plant wall and a tribute to one of Austin’s most iconic and photographed features, an 'I love to build so much' mural.

Pursuing LEED® Platinum for Commercial Interiors from the United States Green Building Council

While the building is already targeting LEED Gold certification, DPR's space within it is aiming higher.

In collaboration with IA, DPR designed the office with features that should enable Platinum certification, such as the use of locally sourced materials, a recycling program, energy efficient equipment that complies with Energy Star, and a long-term commitment to the space (a 10-year lease). Skylights bring daylight to interior and limited use of volatile organic compounds in interior paints, coatings, and flooring – avoiding the production of harmful and unpleasant aromas in the office – also help the space go above and beyond.

The key to a WELL workplace is a kitchen that promotes healthy nutrition, natural lighting, and recycling features. Photo courtesy of Peter Molick

Pursuing WELL Certification™ from the International WELL Building Institute

Enjoyment is significantly reflected in the new space. And a crucial aspect of daily enjoyment for a progressive community like Austin is the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. It’s no secret that a major factor in supplementing or sabotaging that goal is a healthy workplace, designed and built to support the health of its occupants.

The office is designed to give employees and guests a space that will generally enhance, not compromise, their health and wellness.

“Having had the opportunity to work in a WELL-certified DPR office and a non-WELL-certified DPR office, I am surprised and inspired by the impact it has on myself and my fellow employees’ day to day life,” said Lexie Hood, who is a part of the Preconstruction team. “WELL office spaces are brighter, quieter, and overall more pleasant. We spend so much time in our offices, it makes such a difference to feel comfortable, clean and healthy.”

Key features including circadian lighting design, ergonomic workspaces, acoustic planning, healthy eating promotion, activity incentive programs for employees, and visually-delighting art installations celebrating self-perform capabilities and the local community will enable this new space to achieve WELL Certification

“It’s a different energy around the office,” said Nick Moulinet, who sits on Austin’s Business Unit Leadership Team. “You see a greater level of personal interaction and palpable sense of pride in what we have accomplished to get here. We want this to be a place that everyone feels welcome, whether you are coming in from a job site or visiting from another office. I think the consensus is that the entire team nailed it.”

"We want this to be a place that everyone feels welcome, whether you are coming in from a job site or visiting from another office." Photo courtesy of Peter Molick

September 20, 2019

Data-Driven Decisions

It seemed like a given: renovating a 1980s office space to achieve Net-Zero Energy (NZE) use would require additional insulation. But the team designing and building DPR Construction’s new Washington, D.C. regional office had three prior DPR NZE offices' worth of data to lean on as they worked.

The first estimate of the insulation cost was $130,000. However, deeper examination and a subsequent comparison of energy models with and without insulation demonstrated only a $460 per year savings with insulation.

"The payback was never!" according to DPR’s Chris Gorthy, who helped lead the project. The 20,000-sq.-ft. office is not only tracking for NZE certification, but also achieved LEED® Platinum and WELL™ Gold certifications.

The data meant that, instead of a costly upgrade for a negligible return, DPR made a better investment by buying another solar panel for that cost and more than offset the minimal insulation loss.

Such is the power of data. When it comes to high-performance buildings, DPR is working on more fronts than ever to collect data that can mean returns for customers. For the D.C. office, data was key for decisions, from the best ways to incorporate daylighting to the selection of the mechanical system.

Located in Reston, VA, DPR’s D.C. office is one of many “Living Laboratories” created to push the boundaries of what’s possible. DPR is using data from these projects to inform future projects, both for the company and customers. With billions of square feet of office park space of a similar age, the right data could mean more affordable ways to extend the lifespan of the buildings while also operating at leading edge energy and water efficiency.

Reston interior view
Located in Reston, VA, DPR’s D.C. office is one of many "Living Laboratories" created to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Photo courtesy of Hochlander Davis photography

"The construction industry has so many metrics, but the overall quality of available data is low," said Kaushal Diwan, who leads innovation for DPR. "We want to change that so we can deliver more value to customers, new possibilities for existing buildings and, ultimately, more predictable outcomes across the project lifecycle."

This is especially true with high-performing buildings and the trend toward healthy workspaces, including those seeking WELL certification.

Building WELL

"During procurement for the new Charlotte office of architect Little [Diversified] in uptown Charlotte, NC, we had to comb through a ton of products," said DPR’s Ryan Poole. "There was an emphasis on locally-sourced wood, as well as materials that met WELL requirements. Now, we have a tool that can expedite that process, combining data from across geographies to streamline procurement."

While there are tools for data on the front end of a project, real-time building performance data can inform decisions for customers.

"Actual data on building operations in a variety of climates could be incredibly valuable," said DPR’s Greg Amon. "There is a big opportunity with live tracking abilities to see where there are spikes in energy usage and how we can mitigate them. That information will be actionable for many of our customers in similar facilities."

That should have near-term benefits for building performance, but the opportunities a few years out are even more exciting. For example, as buildings aim to apply artificial intelligence (AI), those sorts of metrics can help build smarter AI systems.

"There is great potential for data to lead to new ways buildings are operated and maintained," Diwan said. "But building an AI platform that can fulfill ‘intelligent’ decisions takes having good data. The systems we’re starting to implement in our Living Labs provide a basis for that next step."

Building a Data Set

Ultimately, data will change the way buildings are designed, built and used.

"Think about a university classroom building," Diwan said. "If it’s only occupied and used eight hours a day, but lit 16 hours and climate-controlled 24 hours, that’s a lot of inefficient use. Using campus-wide building usage data could show when and how different buildings are used. All of that together could change how we design and build for those places."

PV panels atop DPR's office in Reston, Virginia
DPR's D.C. office features a rooftop photovoltaic array. Photo courtesy of ©Judy Davis / Hoachlander Davis Photography

For DPR, those changes start with its Living Labs. Lessons from the D.C. regional office—which built on knowledge from offices in San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix—have already informed decisions at new spaces for DPR in Austin and Sacramento.

"It’s not good enough to wait for the market to build the data set for us," Poole said. "If we want to truly deliver high-performance buildings at market rates, we need to be the pioneers. The tools we’re putting in place will get us there."

A Living Lab is buildable, usable, sustainable and operable. With its new D.C. office, how did DPR realize each?

Buildable: The team chose to forgo an expensive insulation upgrade—which according to living lab data wouldn’t have penciled out—and instead invested in an extra solar panel.

Usable: Employees were surveyed to ensure that features and spaces were configured to meet the needs of the team working in and using the space.

Sustainable: The building showcases dozens of sustainable and cradle-to-cradle materials to demonstrate quality and test their durability over time—like the four different concrete floor finishes used throughout the space.

Operable: Real-time analysis and monitoring systems, as well as dashboards, help users see water usage and energy usage/generation.

To learn more about the sustainable building strategies and office features that helped DPR earn WELL Gold, LEED Platinum, and NZE certifications, click here.

August 20, 2019

DPR Construction’s New Sacramento Office Pushes the Envelope in Sustainable Design

Office Incorporates Material Never Before Used in Sacramento for a Building’s Structure

In an area famed for its fertile farmland, a new type of green initiative has been taking root as DPR Construction puts the finishing touches on its innovative new office space at 1801 J Street in Sacramento. When DPR opens a new office, it aims to forge a new path for sustainability, creating “living labs” to show what is possible in green and healthy workplace design. In Sacramento, DPR is manifesting that by incorporating a material never before used for a building’s structure in the city: mass timber with cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. A renewable resource, mass timber can be an integral part of a low-carbon development; for this project, it was vital to DPR meeting its goals for sustainable design, as well as achieving LEED® Platinum and WELLTM certification standards.

For its new Sacramento home, DPR purchased an existing property for re-use, adapting it to be net-zero energy. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

In a move that itself demonstrates the “reduce, reuse and recycle” mantra of conservation, DPR purchased an existing property for re-use, utilizing a design by SmithGroup to transform it into DPR’s new Sacramento home. The existing 28,833-sq.-ft. midtown property’s two buildings are targeting Zero Energy Certification (ZNE) from the International Living Future Institute. To achieve ZNE, the office will offset its energy use via on-site photovoltaic solar energy generation and ban the use of any combustibles, relying on electrical energy alone. Key to DPR’s ability to meet sustainable design goals for this project was the incorporation of mass timber construction with cross-laminated timber panels made up of pressed, dried timber boards stacked at right angles and glued together with non-toxic adhesive—a material not previously used in this manner in Sacramento.

Mass timber products are engineered for loads similar in strength to structural materials like concrete and steel, but they allow crews to build tall, with a lighter, natural, low-carbon and high-quality material. This effort sheds light on the possibilities for the region’s aging building stock, and it showcases how incorporating wood in an exciting, sustainable manner can benefit commercial projects.

Wood Elements Deliver Strength, Resiliency While Reducing Carbon Footprint

From a structural perspective, CLT and mass timber elements provide high-strength, resilient systems capable of long spans and significant wind and seismic force resistance. At the time of design review, Sacramento building codes did not yet recognize these systems for use as lateral force-resisting elements, so design teams reached beyond existing codes to demonstrate equivalent or superior performance with CLT. They made use of the many years of research and testing conducted by organizations such as WoodWorks, FP Innovations, ANSI/APA and Structurlam to navigate code, design and construction issues. It is also the first multi-story shear wall application of CLT in the State of California.

Mass timber elements provide high-strength, resilient systems capable of long spans and significant wind and seismic force resistance. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

From a sustainability perspective, mass timber offers even more benefit. Because of its use in this structure, the embodied carbon is estimated to be lower by 170 metric tons than comparable structures using traditional materials. Further, it is estimated that US & Canadian forests grow enough wood for this project in only 12 seconds, highlighting the current availability of wood product. And it’s not just the timber; the building utilizes mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to reduce energy use vs. baseline by 45%, with 424 photovoltaic panels for an annual production of 265,178 kWh/year. In the sunny Central Valley, this is projected to yield 107% of onsite energy needs annually. A 9.8 kWh battery backup system is included for added resiliency during system outages and to serve as a community hub in the event of natural disaster.

Exposed Timber Provides Unique Connection to Nature

Exposed timber also provided DPR with the opportunity to create a high-end, modern office environment that showcases not only its skill but also its environmental stewardship. Wood elements also accomplish something other building materials cannot—they have the unique ability to connect people to the natural environment. This unique combination of attributes provided advantages not offered by other building systems. The challenge was to make full use of these benefits in a manner most compatible with the existing concrete and masonry structure. It is here that CLT framing became the clear choice.

Overall, the building reduces energy use by 45% and is projected to yield 107% of onsite energy needs annually. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

Mass timber also means the application of interior finish materials is unnecessary, helping to limit the amount of toxic materials present. Exposed wood also brings nature into the space by creating a tactile experience and a healthy indoor air quality. The sense of biophilia, the connections humans subconsciously seek with the rest of life, is reinforced by Solatubes® on the roof to diffuse light and bring in anti-glare, natural light, operable windows that highlight the local microclimate’s Delta Breeze, and material finishes with familiar patterns and textures, such as wood, stone, hexagons, bubbles and wool. The second story terrace engages with the community in the “City of Trees” that is Sacramento, and can be accessed through a new communicating stair from Level 1 to Level 2. The stair uses a CLT landing and old growth Douglas Fir treads and risers.

The unusual application of mass timber in this project pushed the boundaries of what is possible with the material and challenged the entire design and consultant teams. When considering the massing, the perception of the structure in three dimensions, the design concept called for the placement of a distinct pavilion atop the historic building to help define the exterior shape. The use of mass timber as a way to distinguish the pavilion addition from the rest of the existing building created a recognizable stark contrast consistent with the design scheme.

Exposed wood also brings nature into the space by creating a tactile experience and a healthy indoor air quality. Photo courtesy of Marshall Andrews

A Continued Commitment to Sustainable Design

DPR has long been committed to green building and sustainable design, and this project further demonstrates this. Originally constructed in 1940 and renovated in 1993, this adaptive re-use will house the DPR office, with open office seating areas, an active/addressable seating plan, meeting rooms, break rooms, open collaborative areas, focus areas, a training room, lounge spaces and other special use spaces. This design allows DPR to provide leasing opportunities on the ground level, a move that will not only activate J Street but will also connect DPR to the community at large. While the west building is a two-story structure that received extensive interior and exterior improvements, the single-story east building received a full second story addition constructed entirely of mass timber.

As an active member of the US Green Building Council since 1999, DPR has constructed green/LEED™-certified projects for various customers across the nation. In 2003, DPR completed construction of its 52,300-sq.-ft., high-performance office building in Sacramento, a ground-up facility that was designated the first privately owned LEED™ project in the Central Valley.

July 17, 2019

New Workday Headquarters Opens in Pleasanton, California

Fast-growing enterprise software company Workday, Inc. celebrated the completion of its new 410,000-sq.-ft., corporate headquarters in Pleasanton, California this spring. Leaders from the City of Pleasanton, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Workday, and the DPR-led project team were among those who gathered for the May 13 ribbon-cutting ceremony, marking the official opening of the innovative, transit-friendly project that has been hailed as a state-of-the-art building.

The new Workday headquarters in Pleasanton, California.
The new Workday HQ connects employees to the community. Photo courtesy of Workday

Located just steps from the West Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, the architecturally striking, six-story structure ranks as the tallest office building in Pleasanton. It will house some 2,200 Workday employees by August, mostly from the company’s product and technology team. A focal point of Workday’s 10-building Pleasanton campus, it also houses a new 16,000-sq.-ft. Workday Customer Center slated to open later this summer.

Workday leadership and community members cut the ribbon for the building.
Local officials joined Workday leadership and the project team to cut the ribbon. Photo courtesy of Workday

Local Partnerships Aid Development

From the outset, Workday was committed to creating a transit-oriented development that would attract potential employees from around the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Oakland. The company forged strong ties with BART and the City of Pleasanton to develop a project that benefited both the local community and Workday employees.

A green space walkway, featuring native California plants, connects the BART station with the new headquarters building. Similar pathways connect the headquarters building with existing buildings on the company’s Pleasanton campus.

Workday Co-Founder and CEO Aneel Bhusri hailed the “strong partnerships” between Workday and the City of Pleasanton and BART during an address at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We’ve created a place that is an extension of our culture and brand, one that is built for continued innovation and one that reflects how our employees want to work and build products for the future,” he said.

“Workday had a very specific vision for this project and we worked to ensure we were aligned throughout the project,” said DPR’s Karri Sieler, a senior project manager. “It was a great example of how the things we build – and how we meet expectations for a project – are core to our customers’ businesses.”

One interior area of the new Workday HQ.
A variety of interior environments are designed to support employees. Photo courtesy of Workday

Core Values on Display

Designed by Gensler Architects, the new headquarters building draws inspiration from Workday’s core values of innovation, and fun in support of the company’s number one asset -- its employees. It provides an ideal environment for software development with plenty of open spaces, entire walls made of whiteboards, new high-tech tools like video walls and digital whiteboards, and four great rooms that provide comfortable spaces for large groups to gather.

Numerous other amenities support the fun, collaborative environment, including:

  • An open-air amphitheater with seating for 1,500 people along with a large grassy area suitable for outdoor games;
  • A “Data Diner” café complete with a 12,000-pound pizza oven and an “XpressO” coffee bar;
  • Two spacious second floor balconies that allow employees to enjoy fresh air while they work;
  • Wellness rooms with treadmills, amenity rooms for therapeutic services, showers and lockers;
  • Large game rooms on each floor;
  • Two dog runs where employees of the pet-friendly company can bring their dogs to run around and play throughout the day.

The building incorporates a highly sustainable design that is targeting LEED® Platinum certification. Among the green features: a large 865-kw solar array that provides up to one-third of the building’s electricity, an innovative onsite greywater recycling system designed to save up to 720,000 gallons of water each year, and a “cool roof” to mitigate the urban heat island effect.

Interior of the new Workday HQ
DPR self perform work crews performed a signficant portion of the project, including concrete visible throughout the project. Photo courtesy of Workday

DPR Sets Self-Perform Concrete Record

Constructed as a fully cast-in-place concrete structure, Workday tapped DPR’s self-perform concrete skills early in the building of its new headquarters. To support the 3-ft-thick concrete core walls that rise seven stories to the roof, the DPR team needed to build a thick mat foundation – leading to DPR’s largest self-performed concrete pour in company history. Over the course of 12 hours in May 2017, workers poured 4,800 cubic yards of concrete, which was reinforced with 1.2 million pounds of rebar.

The team poured as many as 500 cubic yards of concrete per hour – ultimately pouring enough concrete to fill one-and-a-half Olympic size swimming pools, or 3.7 million 2-liter bottles of soda.

Self-performing that structural concrete portion of the job enabled DPR to set the tone and pace for the job, and to keep a firm handle on quality control.

From planning and partnering to construction completion, the end result is a building that has garnered accolades on several fronts, including from Workday Co-President and CFO Robynne Sisco. “We’re extremely grateful to the City of Pleasanton and BART for their partnership,” she commented. “It’s because of their partnership in addition to our work with the building’s general contractor, DPR Construction, the architect and designer, Gensler, and literally hundreds of additional vendors that we’ve been able to make our beautiful new headquarters a reality.”

November 12, 2018

Leading the Sustainability Discussion at Greenbuild 2018

The stage setup for Greenbuild plenary sessions.
Greenbuild brings together thought leaders to advance the sustainability discussion in the built environment. Photo courtesy of Jay Weisberger

The conversation about sustainability is evolving. We’re on the cusp of some exciting things that could have long-term benefits for communities everywhere; construction has an opportunity to play a leading role in making these things a reality.

DPR Construction sustainability leaders are gearing up for Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Nov. 14-16, in Chicago. Here are a few of the things we’re excited to talk about this year, especially with partners who want to align construction delivery with their organizations’ wellness and sustainability goals.

The intersection of wellness and green in buildings

From the start, LEED® has recognized contributions to healthier indoor environmental quality. Guidelines for the WELL Building Standard™ take things a step further, aiming to create spaces that proactively help occupants be healthier. Combining these two rating systems is now delivering value that pencils out.

DPR Construction's Washington, DC regional office.
DPR's Washington, DC office shows the intersection of green building methods with employee health. Photo courtesy of ©Judy Davis / Hoachlander Davis Photography

Additionally, recently published books like Rex Miller’s Healthy Workplace Nudge are connecting the dots between workplaces and healthcare costs. Miller notes the rise in chronic diseases in the United States is increasing healthcare cost to a point where they will be unsustainable for businesses, with projections that companies will pay $25,000 for health insurance per employee each year as soon as 2025. At the same time, companies spend nearly $700 per employee annually on wellness programs that do not deliver results. Instead, we should imagine an environment where decisions are made based on employee health and well-being instead of upfront cap ex costs.

DPR’s new office in Reston, Virginia—a significant renovation of the common type of office park building found in every major U.S. market—shows how. The team found ways to marry LEED and WELL approaches and track for Net Zero Energy certification. The new space “nudges” occupants toward healthier behaviors through things like making it easier to find a healthy snack than junk food and an in-office workout room for employees to consider with their busy schedules. It accomplishes this without compromising building energy and water performance targets. The WELL Certified Gold and LEED Platinum space will pay for itself over the life of the lease through on-site energy generation, water savings and resulting lease negotiations due to the increased appraisal value of the building and long-term net savings to the landlord from the green retrofit.

PV panels atop DPR's office in Reston, Virginia
DPR's D.C. office features a rooftop photovoltaic array. Photo courtesy of ©Judy Davis / Hoachlander Davis Photography

Real world Net Zero applications for private development

In Reston, DPR’s Net Zero certification will be enabled by rooftop photovoltaics, which have also reached a point where the costs of the equipment and installation are offset by the cost savings from on-site energy generation or reduced lease rates for usage. Potentially, communities can now start to look at rooftop spaces and build a more robust PV infrastructure to generate more power and, ultimately, inoculate building owners from energy cost fluctuation. Think about the rooftop of a convention center or sports arena: huge spaces we could put to work. If we make a similar commitment to rainwater collection to what we believe we can do with PV, we could help alleviate drought problems, too.

Social equity through a construction lens

Sandoval-renteria in a group discussion on his job site.
DPR's Alberto Sandoval-Renteria recommends entering the trades as early as possible to start learning and build a career, even without a college degree. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

More and more, we’re discussing social equity when we get together to discuss sustainability. It might seem like a construction firm wouldn’t have a lot to say on this subject. Instead, we believe construction is uniquely positioned to be a major contributor to a more equitable society.

For starters, construction is among the few industries hiring people without a college degree and putting many of those folks on fulfilling career tracks. This is true not only in the trades but also for our office management staff. The majority of DPR’s superintendent and craft leadership do not have degrees and came up through the trades. With a labor shortage across our industry, construction can be an attractive career for anyone who doesn’t want – or simply cannot afford – the financial burdens of attending college. Making well-paying careers attainable for more people would be a significant step toward bridging the wage gap. We’re seeing some tech companies create these opportunities for white collar workers; construction can set the tone in the blue collar workforce.

Moreover, construction also hires a significant number of local small businesses, many of which are certified minority-, woman- or veteran-owned emerging small businesses. Much as we try to source regional materials for greener projects, the more we can use our projects to help these small, local businesses grow, the more we guarantee the health of local economies. As DPR strives to be integral and indispensable to the communities where we operate, our ability to include local partners in our projects is a significant focus.

We’re past the time of simply talking about making greener buildings. Now, when we go to Greenbuild, we focus on our ability to truly create sustainable communities.