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 Reston, Virginia 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.

November 9, 2018

The Loudoun Community Takes Center Stage During the Inova Loudoun Patient Tower’s Latest Milestone

Aligned around Inova Loudoun Hospital’s motto of “Stronger Together,” the project team, hospital staff and patients, donors, and members of the local community, came together to celebrate the latest milestone on the Inova Loudoun Hospital (ILH) Patient Tower project—the topping out of the steel penthouse which sits on top of the new seven-story concrete structure.

As one of the fastest growing counties in the country, the Loudoun County community has rallied behind the ILH Patient Tower project. Once complete, the new tower will bring additional services to the area, critical to maintaining the current level of care. “It’s not just the bricks and mortar, but the new services and new programs. [This facility] gives us the opportunity to really bring state-of-the-art technology to the community that people are accustomed to and used to,” said Deborah Addo, Inova Loudoun CEO.

The original hospital was built to hold 82 patients while the new tower will accommodate 228 new patient beds, keeping up with current demands for patient space and allowing space for future growth, as well. “It is about progress and investing in the community we serve. This will help ensure that Loudoun County residents have access to quality health care well into the future,” Ben Frank, chief of staff and chief operating office for Inova Health System added.

This project, scheduled for completion in 2020, is just one phase of ILH’s $300 million master plan for expansion of facilities and services. As the project reached this latest milestone, it was important to the project team to recognize all the individuals and organizations that have helped make this project a reality. A series of events were planned, including beam signings and celebrations, honoring the entire team, from the subcontractors in the field to the critical network of facilities within the Inova Loudoun family that each support the main campus.

Subcontractors sign the wall, leaving their mark on the project during the concrete topping out celebration.
Subcontractors signed the wall, leaving their mark on the project during the concrete topping out celebration. Photo courtesy of Ulf Wallin

The first event was the “topping out” of the seven-story concrete structure, which celebrated the efforts of more than 250 workers who got the team to the top, one week ahead of schedule.

Each of the workers left their mark by signing a concrete wall, followed by a team barbeque and a thank you message delivered by Addo and the DPR project team. Kimberly Shumaker, senior project manager for the ILH project, spoke about the importance of the team and working together towards a common goal. “Achieving this milestone is a testament to the level of teamwork exemplified by all,” Shumaker states. “I am so proud to be celebrating this moment with such a tremendous group of individuals.”

Beam signing at the Inova Ashburn HealthPlex, first stop on the beam signing tour.
The steel beams went on a roadshow to other Inova campuses—first stop was the Inova Ashburn HealthPlex. Photo courtesy of Inova Staff Member

Prior to the official steel topping out, the final steel beams went on a roadshow to each of the Inova campuses that support the greater Loudoun community. Thanking members of the campuses for their support and uniting them under the “Stronger Together” belief, the roadshow, termed “breakfast with the beam,” allowed staff and donors to sign the beams and leave their mark. Some employees listed children born at the hospital, others thanked their parents and other family members, and others simply signed their name to be part of history. As Addo wrote on the beam, our work lives on!

“When you think about it, we have been providing care to this community for more than 100 years. Many of our employees began and ended their careers here, their kids were born here, their parents died here,” says Addo. “This is a special place for them, it’s not just a place of work, it really is home, it’s a community.”

Deborah Addo signs the beam at Inova Ashburn HealthPlex, honoring the work of the staff of the system.
CEO Deborah Addo signed the beam at Inova Ashburn HealthPlex, honoring the work of the Inova system staff. Photo courtesy of Inova Staff Member

The capstone event was the steel topping out, where the final beam was hoisted into place following remarks from Addo, Frank and Scott Hamberger, ILH Board Chair. “Today we’re building a legacy—a legacy of the future,” Frank told those who gathered in what will be the hospital’s lobby. “We’re building something we can all be proud of.”

Creating a patient-focused experience for the community that elevates the human spirit is the goal of the new patient tower, only accomplished by working together. In Addo’s words, “I succeed when we succeed.”

Design and construction team poses with signed beam alongside hospital CEO Deborah Addo.
Aligned around Inova Loudoun Hospital’s motto of “Stronger Together,” the design and construction team celebrated the milestone alongside hospital CEO Deborah Addo. Photo courtesy of Sean Kelley

November 7, 2018

Builders at our Core: Alberto Sandoval-Renteria

Alberto Sandoval-Renteria on his job site
Alberto Sandoval-Renteria has gone from building toys as a child to building large scale projects for DPR. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Alberto Sandoval-Renteria joined DPR Construction in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014, but he knew he wanted to be a builder since he was six years old. His passion for carpentry started when he was first introduced to woodworking on his family’s ranch in Mexico, and he saw the joy his hard work brought to the people around him.

He brings that same enthusiasm to his work as a carpenter foreman every day. Sandoval-Renteria is also one of five siblings, whom he credits for teaching him leadership and consensus-building skills.

Sandoval-Renteria recently discussed how he got started in the trades, how work at DPR has influenced his life at home and his advice for people looking to work in the trades.

Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?

Sandoval-Renteria: I’m a carpenter foreman for our self-perform doors division. When I started, I was considering going to art school, but I lived close to the union hall and I stopped in and asked if they were hiring. They told me to come back the next week as they were staffing up. When I did, they sent me out to a project.

I came to DPR the same way. I just happened to call a friend of mine who used to work here and asked if DPR was hiring. He called back five minutes later and, next thing I knew, I came over as a carpenter and a year later I became a foreman.

Q: You used to build toys as a child. Have you always been building?

Sandoval-Renteria: The place I grew up was pretty poor, so if you wanted a toy or something, you had to build it. When I was a kid, I made my own toy top and little things like toy cars. The funny thing is that it takes a few hours to build a toy and then you play with it for 15 minutes. For me, the fun part was building it.

My grandpa used to be a bricklayer, so I could always help him. Depending on how skilled you were, you were either carrying things for him or helping him put things it in place. I figured out that it was better to learn things and work than to carry stuff.

Sandoval-Renteria on site talking with a coworker.
Sandoval-Renteria credits DPR training with building his communications skills. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s your favorite thing to build/type of project to work on?

Sandoval-Renteria: I love doing aluminum frames because everything has to be cut, and there are a lot of mitered corners. Fast-paced work is the most fun. You have to “go go go” and make sure you’re doing it to the right quality and appearance at the same time. It’s fun when you first see the schedule and think it doesn’t look possible, but when the work is done, it’s on time and looks amazing.

Q: What’s the most technical thing you’ve worked on?

Sandoval-Renteria: The doors for a customer focused on audio technologies, which needed to meet a certain FCC rating to limit sound. It was very technical, and we had to do everything little by little, taking the time to make sure everything was just right. When we were done, our work exceeded the rating the customer was looking for.

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

Q: How have you grown since you started here?

Sandoval-Renteria: DPR puts a lot of effort into growing and training people, asking us what we need and where we want to go. My people skills have really grown, especially from the Crucial Conversations course. That’s been a big help at work, but at home, too. My girlfriend tells me all the time how working at DPR has changed who I am! I think a lot of that has come from DPR trainings and learning how to express myself.

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?

Sandoval-Renteria: People in high school who want to pursue this career should get into it as soon as they can. Instead of going to college and accruing debt, you basically make that amount and put it into your pocket. I was 19 when I started. Everyone I have met who started right after high school, they’re all very happy.

Sandoval-Renteria on his job site.
Sandoval-Renteria credits hard work and a bit of luck for the career he enjoys. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

November 5, 2018

Nationwide Network of Partnerships with the Boys & Girls Club Organizations Grows in New Regions

A new community partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee’s Andrew Jackson (AJ) Clubhouse in Nashville has begun as DPR expands its operations in the Southeast. The AJ Clubhouse serves the community by providing approximately 220 kids, aged 5-18, with after-school programs, including mentoring, music instruction and recording opportunities in the club’s sound room.

Thirty DPR volunteers, ranging from self-perform work (SPW) drywall and concrete crews to administrative and project management staff, took a rare Saturday off from working on the fast-tracked LG Manufacturing project in Clarksville, Tennessee, to support the organization. In one day, 260 volunteer hours were contributed to renovation work, including:

  • Painting two classrooms and two bathrooms
  • Replacing all flooring in the Club’s music sound room with new carpeting
  • Repairing holes in the gym floors
  • Replacing grime-covered ceiling tiles with clean ones
In one day, 260 volunteer hours were contributed to renovation work.
In one day, 260 volunteer hours were contributed to the renovation work.

“The work DPR Construction did for our AJ Clubhouse was simply amazing and appreciated,” said Dan Jernigan, Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee President/CEO. “Your company was an unexpected blessing to our Boys & Girls Club organization and the youth we serve.”

The volunteer team not only consisted of DPR volunteers, but their family members, as well. “It felt good working as a team and being able to concentrate on paying it forward for somebody else,” said DPR’s Mary Lou Kelly, a community initiative coordinator. “It makes me feel really proud that we came together to show we’re a team, we’re in Nashville–and we’re here to stay.”

The volunteer team not only consisted of DPR volunteers, but their family members, as well.
Family members were a part of the volunteer team, as well.
Nashville volunteer team in front of Boys and Girls Club
“It makes me feel really proud that we came together to show we’re a team, we’re in Nashville–and we’re here to stay,” said DPR’s Mary Lou Kelly, a community initiative coordinator.

October 23, 2018

California State University, Chico Celebrates the Groundbreaking of its New Physical Sciences Building

New 110,200-sq.-ft. building puts science on display with large windows and exterior breezeway.

The Chico community will soon have a new resource at California State University (CSU), Chico as DPR broke ground on the new physical sciences building earlier this month. With an exterior breezeway and large windows, the physical sciences building will invite members of the community to engage in the sciences and will feature a hands-on laboratory for K-12 students, where children will be encouraged to experiment and learn using advanced facilities.

DPR broke ground on the new physical sciences building earlier this month.
Campus and community members gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the advancement of CSU, Chico among other North State and CSU schools, an advancement the $101 million development will help deliver. Photo courtesy of Jason A. Halley

Designed in partnership with SmithGroup, the design-build project blends historic Chico state with contemporary architectural elements. It also provides new space for the College of Natural Sciences, which includes the chemistry, physics, geological science and science education departments.

“The building is designed to create a welcoming, warm environment that fosters student engagement and collaboration,” said director of Facilities Management and Services Mike Guzzi. “The exterior breezeway and large windows invite the campus and the community to engage in science by putting science on display.”

The project blends historic Chico state with contemporary architectural elements.
Designed in partnership with SmithGroup, the design-build project blends historic Chico state with contemporary architectural elements. Photo courtesy of SmithGroup

Scheduled for completion in Fall 2020, the 110,200-sq.-ft., four-story building will include:

  • Active-learning classrooms allowing hands-on learning experiences
  • Science education labs
  • Graduate research studios
  • A dean’s suite
  • Faculty offices
  • Administrative and support areas
  • Prep rooms and storage areas

DPR worked closely with CSU’s Institute for Sustainable Development to identify and incorporate sustainable features that will help the project achieve LEED® Silver Certification. With a specially designed HVAC system, including chilled beams, displacement ventilation systems and an air monitoring system, the building will have optimized energy performance, while also providing health safety by monitoring air quality in lab classrooms, ensuring a safe working environment for students and staff.

Members of the campus and community gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate
The Chico community will soon have a new resource at California State University, Chico as DPR broke ground on the new physical sciences building earlier this month.​ Photo courtesy of Jason A. Halley

Members of the campus and community gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the advancement of CSU, Chico as a leader among the North State and 23-campus CSU system, an advancement that the $101 million development will help deliver.

“Our new building will promote collaboration among our students, faculty and staff, and this collaboration will occur in classrooms, labs and other spaces throughout the building,” said dean of the College of Natural Sciences David Hassenzahl. “The overall design will draw people to science and keep them engaged once they are there.”

The new building will promote collaboration among our students, faculty and staff.
“The exterior breezeway and large windows invite the campus and the community to engage in science by putting science on display,” said director of Facilities Management and Services Mike Guzzi. Photo courtesy of Jason A. Halley

October 19, 2018

New Methodist Health System Hospital Breaks Ground in Midlothian, Texas

DPR recently broke ground on the new Methodist Health System hospital in Midlothian, Texas, a fast-growing suburb south of Dallas. With more than 300 Methodist Health System officials and Midlothian community leaders in attendance, including Midlothian Mayor, Bill Houston, and chair of the Methodist Health System board of directors, Julie Yarbrough, the groundbreaking marks the start of the Methodist Midlothian Medical Center project, which includes the first hospital in Midlothian and the 11th hospital in the Methodist Health system.

Methodist Midlothian Rendering
Slated to open in 2020, the greenfield campus will feature a five-story, 44-bed acute care hospital and three-story medical office building. Photo courtesy of Corgan

Slated to open in 2020, the greenfield campus will feature a five-story, 44-bed acute care hospital and three-story medical office building (MOB). Located prominently at the center of the campus, the hospital will employ approximately 300 medical professionals and support staff across 190,000 sq. ft. of space at the end of the first full-year of operation.

“This is a day we have waited for, a day when we will now have a full-service, acute care medical facility in our growing city,” said Midlothian Mayor Bill Houston. “We have a long working relationship with Methodist and are so proud to have the system expand its presence, talents and expertise into our community.”

Methodist Midlothian Groundbreaking
With more than 300 Methodist Health System officials and Midlothian community leaders in attendance, the groundbreaking marks the start of the Methodist Midlothian Medical Center project, which includes the first hospital in Midlothian and the 11th hospital in the Methodist Health system. Photo courtesy of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

One of the many health campuses in the Dallas-area DPR has worked on over the past five years, the team is excited to be building this project from the ground up with architect Corgan.

“Methodist Health Systems and Corgan are wonderful partners. Although we are just getting started, I’m confident this project will embody all of DPR’s core values, especially enjoyment. We are already having a lot of fun and building great relationships as we move forward on this landmark project for the Midlothian community,” said DPR’s Project Executive Sean Ashcroft.

October 16, 2018

Service September: Being Integral and Indispensable to Communities

Eighteen community centers and six residences serving under-resourced families benefited from DPR’s commitment to communities during the organization’s fourth annual “Service September.” Every September, DPR challenges all offices to participate in a least one community initiative project focused on facility construction and renovation for organizations that serve under-resourced families in the communities where we work. We call these types of projects Pillar 1 of DPR’s Community Initiative vision.

Volunteers stretch before starting work at Second Story.

While DPR employees actively volunteer year-round, we like to join forces nationwide to see how much we can accomplish in a single month. This year’s projects helped 24 organizations—with 3,500 work hours, the work represents about 25 percent of the volunteer construction work we will do in 2018. Following are three of the many projects completed this September:

Second Story Community Center Renovation

In Reston, Virginia, more than 40 DPR volunteers renovated Second Story Community Center, one of the DPR Foundation’s grant recipients and community partners since 2017. This vital community service organization provides emergency shelter and long-term housing for teen mothers; after school programs for neighborhood kids; free healthcare and other needed services for community residents. Over 860 adults were served by the center this year, as well as 40 kids who use the center each day after school.

Seeing a facility in dire need of renovation, DPR enlisted the help of three subcontractors who contributed new flooring, lighting, and a new awning. The DPR team contributed at least $10,000 in materials along with numerous volunteer hours from DPR SPW and administrative employees, who joined together September 15-17 to undertake the hands-on renovation work. Volunteers completed an array of tasks, including cleaning, painting, drywall work, hardware installation, replacing a toilet and more. They installed new art and furniture to make the community center a more welcoming and safer place to gather, as well.

Second Story provides after school programs for neighborhood kids.
Second Story provides after school programs for neighborhood kids.

“People are very motivated to get to do hands-on building for this important community organization,” said DPR’s Stacy Groomes, a coordinator of the Service September project. “Second Story has a lot of goals that DPR wants to help them achieve. It is personally rewarding to get them to a place where they are operationally functioning really well.” The enthusiasm of so many employees eager to volunteer is what truly made this project a success.

Pendleton Place Facility Repairs

In Greenville, South Carolina, more than a dozen DPR employees volunteered to help with a renovation project for new community partner, Pendleton Place. The organization serves at risk youth and families in the community. Renovation work included repairs to the Smith House on the organization’s campus, which houses and provides services for teenage girls and women in their early 20s who are aging out of foster care.

Volunteers performed various types of work to make Pendleton Place more livable, including replacing an old basketball hoop.

DPR’s Brandon Scott, who serves on the board of Pendleton Place, organized the community initiative project, which utilized DPR’s core building skills to make much-needed improvements to the residence that houses up to 10 young women. Working over two shifts on September 21, volunteers completed a laundry list of repairs, including: gutter repairs, cabinet work, brick work repair, landscaping, and other work designed to make the residential facility more livable. In the future, DPR plans to enlist trade partners to assist with a bathroom remodel.

“Being able to see people who are struggling because of their life circumstances and help contribute to a better lifestyle fuels that personal satisfaction for helping,” Scott commented. “And for DPR, we’re relatively new to this market, so being integral and indispensable to our neighbors helps show we’re engaged in something that is making a difference beyond the construction industry in this community.”

Volunteers removed fencing from the front of Pendelton Place and rebuilt it to give better access to the facility.

Dover Boys & Girls Club Repairs

In a rural, agricultural region east of Tampa, Florida, DPR took on a Service September project at the Dover Boys & Girls Club the weekend of September 21-22. DPR’s awareness of the Dover Club and its many facility and funding needs came as a direct result of Hurricane Irma last year, when DPR donated several hundred cases of water to the facility. Less visible than some of the other Boys & Girls Clubs in the city of Tampa that DPR has already partnered with in the past, the Dover Boys & Girls Club primarily serves Hispanic, low income migrant families. A vital resource for those families, the Dover Club, in many cases, provides the only hot meal some of those kids receive each day.

When DPR’s Brandon Facini met with the director, he saw that the facility needed significant repairs. After taking an inventory of the most pressing and future needs, about 20 volunteers came together and contributed well over 100 hours painting the club’s computer room and large portions of the 20 picnic tables (the rest will be painted later) and performing a host of landscaping improvements to spruce up the facility, among other things.

A strong joining of forces between craft and administrative employees, who normally don’t work together, made a difference on this project. “It was a great showing by our employees, and a great way to come together and interact internally while also giving back,” Brandon said. “We are happy to be making an impact in the lives of the members of the Boys & Girls Clubs around the Tampa area.”

DPR employees, who often don't work together, were able to come together internally, while also giving back to the community at Dover Boys & Girls Club.

October 8, 2018

Advancing a Paradigm Shift in Construction at LCI Congress

DPR's Mike Cummings and Banner Health's Aaron Zeligman discuss what will be most important for the end users of the project.
DPR's Mike Cummings and Banner Health's Aaron Zeligman discuss what will be most important for the end users of the project. Photo courtesy of Mindy Gray

How can contractors and their partners collaborate with customers to deliver projects more efficiently? Or change the way all stakeholders approach projects to drive success? Those topics are the core of what DPR and its partners will discuss in six presentations at the 20th annual LCI Congress, the flagship event of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI), Oct. 15-19 in Orlando, Florida.

The paradigm shift is being advanced through a focus on jobsite culture, better alignment with customer expectations and leveraging technology in new ways. By breaking free of traditional workflows, new efficiencies can be realized leading to benefits for all project stakeholders.

Three of DPR's six presentations are discussed below. To learn more, click on the section headlines and view videos detailing the topics.

Matching Methods with Culture

When it comes to safety, we know procedures and protocols won’t prevent incidents unless a strong jobsite culture of caring and risk rejection exists. Similarly, all the tools of Lean, from kaizen to pull planning, will be limited in their effectiveness without the right culture. True commitment to continuous improvement, for instance, requires trust in your teammates and a sense of a shared goal that’s bigger than one’s self.

DPR’s Daniel Berger understood that his customer at HCA Northwest Hospital Medical Center in Margate, Florida wanted the project team to share its Lean goals. He knew, though, that simply executing Lean methods would only take the team so far.

“For the last 10 years, there’s been such a focus when it comes to Lean construction on things like ‘what can we prefab?’ and ‘what can we do more efficiently,’” Berger said. “We’ve lost track of the soft skills and what those can accomplish on the job and how those skills can help build a culture that supports the Lean process.”

At LCI Congress, Berger and DPR’s customer, HCA, will discuss how they worked together to achieve results. The key was creating a team that hold one another accountable and can thrive during the “tough” conversations that take place during any project. They will also discuss how planning took a whole-project approach rather than being individual scope-specific, how productivity and safety performance improved vs. baselines, and how, once the project is completed in 2019, the culture will continue on future projects.

Aligning Lean Approaches with Customers

When DPR’s team in Phoenix completed the first phase of a large hospital project for Banner Health, it achieved zero defects. Why fix what’s not broken for the second phase? The customer shifted its approach to quality by focusing on Distinguishing Features of Work (DFOW) that were closely associated with the end use of the building and patient care, building a Lean program to support them.

“When people think of quality, they think of aesthetics,” said DPR’s Mike Cummings, who is presenting at LCI Congress. “For Banner, it’s the functionality of those things and how they come together and how they will eventually affect their patients.”

As a result, the entire project team shifted its approach to focus on DFOW and saw fantastic results. For example, work on elevator lobbies (a DFOW) included eight RFIs prior to work starting and zero once work was under way. Trade partners saw increased productivity, too. The team originally planned for 53 days of elevator lobby work, but by aligning around DFOW resulted in only 32 days of work—all with zero defects. Similar improvements were achieved across the project because of increased communication and focus on what was important for all stakeholders.

Technology as a Time Machine

The Lean method of a gemba walk involves going out in the field to see the work and collaborating with partners to address a specific issue in production or key performance indicator. But what if the work doesn't exist yet and won’t be for another year? Easy: use a time machine.

“With 4-D, we can now collaborate more efficiently with our partners to deliver predictable results,” said DPR’s Charlie Dunn. “You can deliver much faster, so you can get a drug to market sooner or a hospital to treat patients earlier.”

Essentially, technology has unlocked the ability for partners to virtually walk through a job site far in advance of the work being put into place. Teams can gain a common understanding of the challenges of a dynamic construction environment, viewing it differently than the fixed nature of an assembly line. As a result, stakeholders can test strategies and make mistakes early—and virtually—while avoiding expensive problems that traditionally emerge after crews have mobilized.

At the 2018 LCI Congress, DPR and its partners will show how this is working to improve delivery of a large project in Orlando. Using 4-D eliminates waste throughout the delivery process and illustrates how we’re utilizing innovative technology with exciting visualizations that promise to alter the way we construct in the future.

October 2, 2018

Builders at our Core: David Lopez

David Lopez pictured on a DPR jobsite.
David Lopez came to a Project Engineer career track by starting in the trades. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

In 2010, David Lopez started his career at DPR in Phoenix, AZ as an apprentice, working as a laborer and operating an elevator for seven months. One day, he helped with layout and discovered his passion. He started reading plans and working on layout in the field full-time.

After honing his expertise in layout and continuously learning from mentors on his team, Lopez became a BIM engineer in 2015 and is now in training to become a project engineer. He mentors other DPR teammates in layout and is passionate about giving back to the community and sharing his knowledge, empowering others to grow in their careers, just as he has.

Lopez recently reflected on how he got to where he is today, sharing a few of his proudest moments over the course of his nontraditional career path:

Q: What do you love most about construction?

Lopez: What I love most is the end-result. I’m proud of what we build. To this day, I take my kids and drive around to show them what buildings I’ve been a part of. I take pride in delivering a high-quality product to our owners.

Q: Your career path is nontraditional—what made you pursue your career as a project engineer?

Lopez: My motivation has always been that DPR gives you the opportunity to do what you really want to do. Why not give my family a better future? If I could become a project engineer, why not do it, if I have all the tools and support?

David Lopez sits in a jobsite trailer with a VDC tool.
Lopez has combined his knowledge of work in the field with skills that are an asset in the jobsite trailer. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s your proudest moment at DPR?

Lopez: When I graduated as a journeyman from the carpenters’ union, I was given the Golden Hammer award, meaning I was the best student out of the 2012 class. When I was an apprentice at DPR, I was already laying out, which was part of the final exam’s scope of work. One of the reasons they picked me was because DPR had already developed me into a journeyman; DPR had already given me all the tools and knowledge I needed to grow.

Q: What’s the most complex or technically challenging thing you’ve ever worked on?

Lopez: The project I’m currently on is Banner–University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP). It’s one of the biggest projects DPR has ever worked on in Arizona. Completing spool sheets and creating the model for BUMCP was both one of the biggest accomplishments and greatest challenges I’ve had here at DPR.

My field experience helped me tremendously as I modeled every single floor, including every opening and penetration in the emergency department expansion and new patient tower. It made it easier for me to comprehend what’s going to be built out there in the field, and from there I developed my skills further.

David Lopez on site helping another craft worker.
Lopez enjoys mentoring other members of the team. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What advice do you have for the next generation of builders?

Lopez: In my mentoring classes, I tell people that school isn’t for everyone. If you want to go the construction craft route, there is the possibility of growing, and I’m the perfect proof of it. I’m doing it because I want to, because I had the motivation. Without my mentors at DPR, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

Q: Over the course of your career, what is the most important lesson you have learned?

Lopez: Always share your knowledge. Never hold back. The more we teach people, the more we grow our industry, and the more we teach our DPR teams knowledge within the field, the better we will be. I wouldn’t have been able to become a BIM engineer or a project engineer without the support of my teammates, who always mentored and taught me. If someone wants to learn, don’t deny that opportunity. That’s how I got here.

David Lopez laughing on his job site.
Lopez enjoys his work from the field to the office. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

September 28, 2018

Collaborating with Customers to Pilot Innovations that Drive Value

Innovation isn't synonymous with technology. Innovation at DPR Construction can be anything that creates new ways of working more efficiently and delivers value to our customers and projects. Achieving that often takes collaboration with key stakeholders from owners, trade partners, end-users and project team members.

“It seems like for most people innovation has become synonymous with apps and devices, but we believe it’s more about changing how we work,” said DPR’s Tim Gaylord. “We want to focus on how we can do more for customers and be more efficient, whether it’s using technology or simply Lean thinking. Either way, it takes customers and project teams who are willing to try things on their projects and seeing what delivers value.”

That’s exactly what’s underway in Leesburg, VA, where DPR is expanding Inova Loudoun Hospital and using the site as a proving ground for a new way to monitor recent concrete pours with embedded devices.

These devices are embedded into concrete to deliver key measurements.
A DPR team member shows one of the devices that are under pilot.

Traditionally, concrete cylinder samples need to be tested off-site to determine strength. Separate core tests measure moisture content. Doing so involves taking several samples, sending them to a testing facility and waiting for the results. The project team saw an opportunity to see if there’s a more efficient method to measure these aspects in real time.

“We’re embedding sensors into our concrete pours,” explained DPR’s Louay Ghaziri. “The sensors will provide us with strength and moisture content readings that we normally test. We will compare those numbers to what traditional testing returns to see if similar results make this a more efficient solution moving forward.”

DPR’s crews are working in tandem with architecture partner HDR’s research arm. The idea is that, if the readings are reliable, the sensors will cancel out the need to send samples in for testing, therefore saving time, while also helping determine project sequencing and eliminating rework.

A sensor installed prior to concrete pouring.
The sensors are attached to rebar prior to concrete pours.

“On our project, this could make a big difference when it comes to putting in flooring,” Ghaziri said. “At that stage, it’s vital to know exactly how much moisture is in the concrete. Anything that can bring certainty to schedule on a complex project gives the customer more peace of mind.”

A DPR site in Sacramento will also pilot the sensors soon; testing in different climates helps establish the effectiveness of the tool.

It’s the latest example of DPR finding appropriate places to try new methods. Some have taken off; one solution for managing jobsite progress photos has saved hours of time for DPR and its project partners. The solution was first piloted on jobsites in Arizona, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Washington, DC region. Today, it’s used on more than 100 DPR projects because of feedback from architects and owners that showed it was delivering value.

DPR and its design partners use jobsite progress photos for a variety of reports and verification needs. Customers also like current photos for their own purposes including keeping stakeholders or employees/end-users up to speed on progress. Occasionally, they’re needed to help troubleshoot an issue. No matter the stakeholder, finding photos for their specific uses was a cumbersome process, often taking skilled people off their "normal" job for hours.

Visualization showing the digital model compared to progress.
DPR is using software that allows quick ways to compare progress versus a digital model.

“The old methods meant a project team ended up with thousands of pictures in a shared folder with titles like ‘IMG_541’ and no real context,” Gaylord said.

Stakeholders always disliked how a simple report could turn into a day-long process. DPR team members, as well as its trade, design and customer partners all reported a much better, faster experience when DPR implemented a process and software that integrated existing digital site plans with automatic curation of photos.

“Now, we drop a pin in a room, take a 360-degree photo and all the curation legwork is done for us,” Gaylord said.

The result is more time spent building and collaborating with much less time trying to find "that one photo."

DPR looks for things that deliver value in the form of cost savings, schedule certainty or simply better customer service. While technology can be part of the solution, the true innovation usually ends up ticking one of those boxes.

“If it’s just a shiny object, customers aren’t going to be interested,” Gaylord said. “They want to know, with good reason, what’s in it for them. So, we combine being curious about emerging solutions with an environment where we can test things out and see what works, not only for us, but for the customer and project.”