Leading the Charge for Change

DPR and Other Builders Band Together to Make Educational Eco Office a Reality

With more than 80 million residential and commercial buildings currently in the United States and another 38 million expected to be completed by the year 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, sustainable building practices are poised to make a tremendous impact on the built environment and beyond. Though the benefits of green building—reduced natural resource consumption, enhanced occupant health and long- and short-term economic savings, for instance—are widely extolled, the need to educate the building and design community on sustainable strategies remains a priority.

“We know how to do this efficiently and cost effectively,” said DPR’s Bryan McCaffrey. “Now, the challenge lies in educating the owners, designers and other builders. DPR feels we have a responsibility to be leaders in this effort.”

Already ahead of the green curve with more than 120 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Accredited Professionals and a Silver LEED-certified office building in Sacramento, CA, DPR is now donating time and services to Southface Energy Institute, an Atlanta, GA-based nonprofit dedicated to educating the design and construction community on earth-friendly building practices, to help make its Eco Office a reality. An extension of Southface’s Energy and Environmental Resource Center, which helped launch the EarthCraft House residential green building program, the Eco Office will serve as a functioning office and an education facility for commercial green building professionals. Among the innovative sustainable strategies being implemented into the project are a green-roof system, a canopy of photovoltaic panels, and access flooring with displacement ventilation and individual occupant controls. Targeting LEED Platinum certification, construction on the Eco Office began this July and is expected to wrap up in June of 2006.

Behind the project’s construction is a consortium of general contractors, among them DPR, which is donating preconstruction services now and will provide a full-time superintendent once construction begins. Meeting twice weekly for the past several months, this consortium, along with the architects and representatives from Southface, plan and monitor the project’s progress, identify challenges and work to create solutions to the project’s obstacles.

“We are providing traditional preconstruction services, such as value engineering, but we are also raising awareness about this project and helping to secure qualified subcontractors and suppliers who are willing to donate the time and services necessary to make this project a success,” explained McCaffrey. For example, though flooring and paint materials have been donated, they cannot be installed until subcontractors are retained.

When completed, the Eco Office will shine as an example of collaboration. The consortium gives companies that otherwise enjoy a competitive relationship the chance to partner for a common goal. To maximize efficiency, the project has been split into divisions, with a different general contractor responsible for each one.

“Teaming with these other general contractors has made this a remarkable experience—we approach this project as a coherent team. Each member is totally invested, time and heart, in this project,” said McCaffrey.

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