August 5, 2020
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.
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.
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.”
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.