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.

May 17, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Office Photos Courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

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

Photo courtesy of Ted van der Linden

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

May 10, 2013

5 Ways to Green Your Existing Office

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

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

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

DPR San Diego Office Photo courtesy of Hewitt-Garrison

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

  • 2. Use outside air to cool your building
DPR San Diego Office Photo courtesy of Hewitt-Garrison

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

DPR Phoenix Office Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos
  • 3. Install Solatubes® to reduce the need for artificial light
DPR Phoenix Office Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

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

  • 4. Install a photovoltaic canopy over your parking lot
DPR Phoenix Office Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

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

  • 5. Install a vampire shut-off switch

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

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

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

February 28, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays from DPR!

In case you missed it...DPR has completed a series of small renovations that have made a big impact to our iconic customer. Over the last several months, DPR’s Special Services Group (SSG) has worked to transform a centuries-old facility into a modern example of energy efficiency—just-in-time for the holidays. Though until recently bound by a strict confidentiality clause, DPR can now share the details of this previously “top secret” project...HAPPY HOLIDAYS! See you in 2013.

November 15, 2012

Greenbuild Hospitality Event at the SFMOMA

Along with attending sessions and enjoying the expo area at Greenbuild 2012, I had a chance to celebrate the language of green with hundreds of colleagues and friends at DPR's hospitality event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Guests mingled and explored the museum's modern and contemporary art.

The world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, Greenbuild features three days of inspiring speakers, invaluable networking opportunities, industry showcases, LEED workshops and tours of the host city's green buildings. (This year's tours included DPR's Sacred Heart SchoolsPackard Foundation Headquarters and Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business.)

I also had a chance to compete against a fellow "greenie" and friend in an energy-producing bike race during Greenbuild:

The race was for Project Haiti, the USGBC's current philanthropy project. Environmental Building Strategies (EBS) and Integral Group shared booth space and donated $10,000 to Project Haiti as a result of some donations. Learn more about it here

Would love to hear about your Greenbuild experiences or what you thought of the DPR event.

September 23, 2012

Greenbuild 2012 Tours

Greenbuild, the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, is less than two months away. Greenbuild 2012 will be taking place in San Francisco from November 14th to 16th. While at Greenbuild, be sure to check out the following conference tours featuring DPR projects:

HD13: Socially Responsible by Design: The Legacy and Leadership of Green Building at Mills College
Explore a legacy of green campus development and environmental stewardship at the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business at Mills College in Oakland. Attendees will tour three buildings nestled in the historic campus designed by local design firms. The LEED Platinum Betty Irene Moore Natural Sciences Building, an early pioneer in sustainable design, incorporates rainwater harvesting, interactive energy metric displays and photovoltaic panels. The Jeannik Mequet Littlefield Concert Hall employs an underfloor air distribution system in the context of a challenging historic renovation. Finally, the first LEED Gold business school in California, the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business, integrates cutting edge with effective green strategies, including a living green roof, rainwater harvesting, natural ventilation, and radiant heating.

FD12: 2030 today: Three Institutions Leading the Way
This full-day tour highlights four recent projects at three sites on the San Francisco peninsula that aim beyond high-performance buildings toward broader views of sustainable institutions: the Packard Foundation’s effort to reduce their organizational carbon footprint; Portola Valley Town Center’s accounting for embodied CO2 emissions in the materials and construction; and finally, Sacred Heart School’s effort to create healthy learning environments where students can conceive of a more sustainable future. The projects showcase a range of certifications and goals, including the first LEED Platinum for Schools project, a AIA Top Ten award winner, a Living Building Challenge contestant, and Net Zero Energy performance.

See you at Greenbuild!

September 21, 2012

Clif Bar Wins Livable Buildings Award

The Center for the Built Environment (CBE) selected the Clif Bar & Company Headquarters in Emeryville, CA as the winner of the 2012 Livable Buildings Award. Clif Bar's ultra-modern space was transformed from a World War II valve manufacturing facility into a workplace haven for its outdoor enthusiast employees. The adaptive reuse LEED-Platinum project includes a 530-kilowatt solar installation, which meets nearly all the office's electricity needs. More than 90% of the occupied space is naturally daylit. The open floor plan encourages employee interactions, but the design also includes 16 conference rooms and six "telephone booths" to allow for privacy and small meetings. Other unique employee spaces include a wellness center, research and development kitchen, gym, cafe, theater, and daycare.

CBE's Livable Buildings Award recognizes projects that meet the highest standards for providing healthy, productive indoor environments and represent best sustainability practices. Now in its sixth year, it is given to buildings that demonstrate exceptional performance in terms of resource efficiency, overall design and occupant satisfaction (using CBE's Occupant Indoor Environmental Quality Survey). CBE's survey is used to study occupant satisfaction with the quality of the indoor environment and has been used in over 575 buildings around the world.

Photo Credits: Drew Kelly

September 20, 2012

Best Projects in California Announced by ENR

Two DPR projects were selected as winners for this year's ENR California Best Projects. The David & Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters in Los Altos won Best Green Project. Palomar Medical Center in Escondido--regarded as the "Hospital of the Future" and featured in DPR's Future of Healthcare study--won Best Health Care Project.

The competition recognizes 38 of the region’s best achievements in construction and design. Winners will be featured in the December 2012 issue of ENR California. On December 6th, winners will also be honored at the annual Best Projects breakfast at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel. Congratulations to all!

The David & Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters (Photo Credit: Ted van der Linden):


Palomar Medical Center (Photo Credit: David Cox):

July 31, 2012

ENR Webinar on Data Center Evolution

David Ibarra, DPR's National Data Center Services Practice Leader and MEP Manager, will be part of a panel for a webinar that Engineering News-Record (ENR) is hosting. The topic is Data Center Evolution: Sustainability in Mission Critical Facilities. The free webinar takes place tomorrow, August 1st at 2-3 pm EDT.

Throughout his career, David Ibarra has worked on more than $1 billion worth of data center projects. Ibarra was selected by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Steering Committee for the Datacenter Adaptation Working Group. He will be involved in making recommendations to change existing LEED credits specific to data centers.

Among other things, the focus of the webinar will be the innovative ways that contractors and designers are reducing power consumption in data centers for socially responsible companies. It will also cover how sustainability efforts will change within the dynamic data center marketplace.

July 2, 2012

More from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation HQ Ribbon Cutting

As reported in the previous blog post, last Friday, DPR team members attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new David and Lucile Packard Foundation Corporate Headquarters.

Established in 1964 by Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard and his wife, Lucile, the foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations throughout the country. The foundation promotes environmental restoration and protection, along with population and reproductive health, children, and the local community. 

Attendees of the ribbon cutting enjoyed this delicious cake replica of the new foundation headquarters.

Guests were also treated to a tour of the facility with EHDD architects. A building designed for net-zero and LEED Platinum, the intention is to generate as much energy as it uses.


Here's the DPR team, cutting the ribbon (from left: Clement Balser, Mike Messick, Kaitlin Murchison and Mike Humphrey). Mike Humphrey called the project, “anything but traditional,” and said that it includes “some of the most advanced and sufficient systems available today.” He also praised the Packard Foundation for its commitment to stick to its vision.

Check out more of the news coverage from outlets such as Silicon Valley Mercury News and the Belmont Patch (which includes a comprehensive image slideshow of the event) here.