Modern Energy Management

DPR Construction's Approach to Smart Buildings

September 24, 2019 Season 1 Episode 4
Modern Energy Management
DPR Construction's Approach to Smart Buildings
Chapters
Modern Energy Management
DPR Construction's Approach to Smart Buildings
Sep 24, 2019 Season 1 Episode 4
Nate Nilles, Amber Artrip & Kyle Shipp
Tune in as Kyle Shipp, the Director of Smart Buildings at DPR Construction, discusses their unique, occupant focused approach to the construction of Smart Buildings.
Show Notes Transcript

Tune in as Kyle Shipp, the Director of Smart Buildings at DPR Construction, discusses their unique, occupant focused approach to the construction of Smart Buildings. In this episode we discuss.

  • The importance of employee-focused construction
  • How existing buildings, older can also be "Smart Buildings"
  • How wellness and experience of a building impacts building design
  • DPR focus on the communities they're building in
  • Kyle's advice to those with Net Zero building initiatives




Speaker 1:
0:00
Hello everyone, and welcome to the fourth episode of the modern energy management podcast. This is a show for sustainability, energy and facility innovators to share their stories and learn energy and sustainability, best practices from their peers. My name is Amber, our trip, and I'm joined as always by my cohost Nate Nellis. [inaudible].
Speaker 2:
0:21
Thanks Amber. Can't wait. Always fun to have somebody on the show that we've known for awhile. This will be good.
Speaker 1:
0:27
Yes. And today we had our friend Kyle SCHIP, who is the director of smart buildings at DPR. Welcome to the show, Kyle. Thanks for having me on. So Kyle, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into smart buildings and your role at DPR.
Speaker 3:
0:45
Sure, yeah, I got the, my degree in industrial engineering actually, so kind of a quality and manufacturing focus. Um, and then ended up working for a national, uh, control company, uh, doing HVC control and uh, you know, building automation, did a lot of, uh, corporate offices in schools there and then got into data centers, um, and also did a, a large corporate campus. Um, after about five years with them, I came to DPR, um, little over five years ago and a MEP coordinator role. So mechanical, electrical, plumbing coordination, um, and, and did that sort of traditional MEP role, um, making sure that all those systems go in correctly and are coordinated. Uh, did that for a lot of data centers, some life sciences and some pharma manufacturing facilities. And then had the opportunity to work on a couple of our, uh, offices that we built for ourselves as well.
Speaker 3:
1:40
Now, I recently started a new new role working with smart buildings specifically. And really what I'm trying to do there is integrate people with buildings. Um, you know, we talk a lot about the systems in buildings, but the reality is that the people that are going to work in that building or live in that building don't really care about a backnet or Jason or any of that stuff. They want a, a comfortable building that they are happy to go to each day. So we try and make sure that that is a smooth process from design and construction and the turnover to operations.
Speaker 2:
2:15
And I know, I know you didn't mention it, but, uh, you were in the army for 16 years before that. So thanks for your service.
Speaker 3:
2:22
Glad to do it. Thank you,
Speaker 2:
2:25
Kyle. Thanks again. And you know, I know DPR has a really unique approach to you know, net zero buildings. I know you have your living laboratories and you want to talk a little bit about that, where you really focus on the occupants first, right before just a doing any kind of a build. So I'd love to open it up and hear a little bit about your new role at DPR and have you tell us a little bit about your approach to smart buildings.
Speaker 3:
2:58
Sure. Yeah. So we, um,
Speaker 2:
3:00
we talk about our offices, uh, which most people call them as living laboratories. And really it's a place where we can have, you know, innovation at that that we live in, um, and, and show people how to design, build and operate a office that is sustainable and affordable. Um, and you know, we do that ourselves. Our, we have three that are certified in net zero and three that are in progress right now. And the first one was San Diego in uh, 2010 and then a followed by Phoenix in 2013. And actually at the time Phoenix was the largest commercial office building in the world. That was, uh, net zero energy certified, um, since been surpassed certainly. Um, and then, um, San Francisco in 2016 and that was also the first building in San Francisco to be net zero certified. Well when you think about, uh, you know, companies that that do the same thing as you guys are similar, right? Are working on similar types of buildings. What is, you know, very unique to DPR and in your approach, I mentioned the occupants but a walk us through that. What are you guys doing that's so different?
Speaker 3:
4:16
What, what we really try and do from the, uh, design and construction side of, of any building, whether it's a net zero specifically or just, you know, what we might call a smart building these days is work really early on with the design team. So that's the, uh, architect. And, and the, the MEP design team, um, which, which I think is fairly typical, but we also make sure we bring in the, the building users and the building operators and owner, um, at the very beginning of the project as well. You know, ideally, um, really before anything is drawn. And we, we start looking at the, um, certainly, you know, owner project requirements and, and get everybody involved at that stage so that the, um, facility is, you know, usable for the occupants and maintainable, um, and can be constructed in a cost effective way and really meets the needs that they're looking for. Um, and then we also, as we get a little further into the design, we really like to do, uh, mockups of certain systems or even even a mockup of a whole facility or a whole conference room, uh, to really get the integration of all the, the pieces working together.
Speaker 2:
5:27
And is it typically when they, when they're going through those design faces, do they bring in a lot of different employees to have feedback on that? Is it, is it generally just, uh, you know, owners senior management? Is it, you know, I'm just trying to think of, it's a bigger group effort.
Speaker 3:
5:43
Uh, w we certainly like to do, um, everyone and, and we've, we've done that approach in, in our offices as well where we, um, you know, even do a survey of all occupants, um, and see how they feel about the current office that they're in, what they would like about a new office. And, um, you know, w one thing we really do try and focus on is the, the user experience of the office and um, just they are, the users are the most important people in the office. And so we can make it as interesting looking or as energy efficient as we want to. But if people don't want to work there, then it, it's not an overall benefit in the end.
Speaker 2:
6:27
So do you think that's more like a, you know, we see a lot out in the market now about, uh, wellness, right? And like the wellness standards. So there's a big piece of what you're doing that is, you know, energy efficient, sustainable. But do you see a shift when you're talking about the occupants on that, how much is the, the wellness inexperienced portion of that, you know, taken effect and some of the designs that you guys are working?
Speaker 3:
6:51
Absolutely. That, that's really the, the primary factor that, that we see now and that we, uh, strive for now. So our, um, new office in D C was built about two years ago. Um, we're, we're going through the, the net zero process on that, but it is a, a well certified building as well. Um, and then we just, we just finished offices in Sacramento and Austin as well that are going for well certification. Um, and that, that's a specific one, but it really gets to the occupant, um, experience and the lifestyle of the employees. And the reality is that we spend the majority of our time, uh, awake in offices and it's, it's certainly clear now that your environment will affect your health. Um, not just the things in the air or things in the water that we typically think of, but even, um, stress and its impact on chronic disease.
Speaker 3:
7:49
Um, and you know, certainly employers wants, uh, employees that that will stay. And, and the reality is that, uh, healthcare is a, is a cost that employers bear as well. So there's, there's lots of benefits to having, uh, an office where people want to, uh, work and feel comfortable and are able to be healthy and, and that can really manifest itself in a lot of ways. Uh, one thing we did intentionally in the, in the DC office was put the, uh, kind of standard office desk area at one end of the building and the kitchen at the other end of the building. So we offer a lot, lots of snacks and things like you do. Um, but if you're going to snack during the day, it evolves a little bit of a walk to, to get there. Um, and that includes interaction with, with people you might bump into along the way. And then, uh, there's a lot of thought about the, you know, even the snacks that we put in there. Uh, we, we still offer, uh, soft drinks, but they're in a eight ounce cane instead of a 12 ounce can. And, uh, cause we're trying to educate the office
Speaker 2:
8:56
users about the, the choices they make and make sure we have healthy choices available for people to snack on and even into the catering that we bring into the office. We, we do that from a healthy perspective. [inaudible] man, it sounds like Amber, he might had a hand in a, you know, our office, uh, making our bathroom like 200 yards away from the office.
Speaker 3:
9:22
I don't think it was like that, but,
Speaker 2:
9:26
uh, I don't think it was a wellness design, but, uh, but I guess we're getting our, our steps. So aside from that, what about just specifics? You know, I know most of us are in an, I guess you'd call it unhealthy building or right, your standard building that, uh, was not designed with these kind of things in mind. What are some cool and unique, you know, health and wellness, you know, features right outside of just a distance of something that you've seen go into some of the projects you guys worked on.
Speaker 3:
9:55
Uh, so one of them, and this goes a little bit to the distance thing, but is, is easily accessible. Stairways, um, stairways are often relegated to kind of the back corners and maybe you don't have the good finishes, but, um, w we found that a, uh, primary, you know, accessible staircase w will get used a lot, um, versus versus a, uh, elevator se. Um, and so you want kind of both of those options to be readily available to people, um, as they, as they look for ways to move around. Um, and then some of the other things we've, we've done, um, certainly, uh, green walls in, in plants, there's a lot of, uh, research as well that, that shows the connection between, uh, nature, you know, making sure that people have a, a good view outside if possible and uh, and interior plants and, uh, in the access to sunlight, whether that's through, uh, you know, skylights or, or any other methods.
Speaker 3:
10:53
And, um, we also try and make sure we have an excess fresh air in there. So when the, in the DC office, which is a pretty unique for the mid Atlantic area, but we did it a hundred percent outside air system or a dedicated outside air system dos. And so, um, that's, that's not generally a great choice for a net zero office and a really, uh, tough environment like the mid Atlantic. But it was a choice we made, uh, you know, based on the, the health and, and uh, we, you know, we also designed it to be able to, to get net zero with that. But um, it's just, it's just nicer if you have a 100% fresh air all the time.
Speaker 2:
11:32
What about a, and I know you guys have that beautiful, uh, plant wall in the office or in San Francisco, um, that we visited. It was, uh, not only cool looking, but it's, uh, you're right, it does, it does, uh, also help on the, on the health side of it. What about, um, just maintenance, right? I think of all these things that you're putting in and it seems expensive, do you guys find to maintain these buildings is a lot higher costs or is it a lot lower cost once they spend the money up front to design them that way?
Speaker 3:
12:02
Yeah, we've actually found that it's, that it's pretty similar, um, to a, to a more regular office. But, uh, like that San Francisco is a good example. There is a lot of, uh, of caretaking in involved in those plants. And so we've, we've taken some, some different approaches. Um, again, I'll use the DC office. We, we actually just welded shelves in between the steel beams there and in the pockets of the beams and put a potted plants in there. So it sort of looks like the beams are, you know, plants in that case, but it's really easy to, uh, take care of those, those potted plants versus a dedicated green wall system with all the, uh, filtration and, and things involved in that. So that was an easy thing that we could do and an NAZ thing that can be added to, to any office really.
Speaker 1:
12:51
Yeah. Something interesting that I remember you talking about when we talk about costs, there's the three and the 3,300 rule. Do you want to elaborate a little bit on that for our listeners?
Speaker 3:
13:04
Sure. The three 3,300 rule was developed by JLL, I believe, and it refers to cost per square foot per year for a building once it's been constructed. And so the $3 is utilities, $30 is rent and $300 is payroll. So when we talk about energy efficiency, we talk a lot about, uh, construction cost and we talk more about the operation costs. What we generally don't talk about now, um, is the, the cost of, you know, inefficiency with employees or, um, you know, having employees that get sick and don't come to work. And that is actually a, a much larger cost. Um, another way even to look at that is the revenue produced per employee. Um, and if you look at things from that perspective, then the, uh, maintenance of a facility or the decisions you make during construction, um, have a lot different frame of reference, uh, compared to your, your biggest, um, your biggest resources basically, which are your employees.
Speaker 2:
14:10
So Kyle, I know that we see a ton of buildings and I love it with the architecture getting rehabbed, right? People taking existing buildings, one just because of availability of space, but taking those buildings instead of new construction and turning those into smart buildings. I think that's something that you guys get involved in quite a bit. You want to speak to that a little bit?
Speaker 3:
14:31
Absolutely. Yeah. It's something we, we really, uh, look for a lot of times our, our Phoenix office that I mentioned that was a, a retail store before we, uh, made it into a, a net zero office. And, um, even our DC office was a, just a class C office space that had been vacant for seven years. And we ended up leasing it and turning that into a, a net zero facility. And then our new one we just did in a Sacramento's pretty interesting and it was built in 1940 and it was a, you know, brick structure. And then we added onto it, we rehabbed it and added onto it with a mass timber structure with cross laminated timber panels. And so, um, that was something that had never been done, uh, as a, a mass timber structure in the city of Sacramento before. So we actually worked with the, uh, city to have that be allowed in the future.
Speaker 3:
15:29
So the now that others can use that, those similar systems, um, and there was an existing, uh, concrete garage type area there. So we actually made that a thermal labyrinth where we're using it for, um, off, off peak heating and cooling by, by blowing air through this thermal labyrinth in the building. And, uh, that one is actually projected, uh, in designed to be net positive energy at the end of the day. So it's really, um, there's a lot of buildings out there that are, like you said, over overlooked, I think, and in favor of building new shiny buildings. But what we really have an interest in showing is that you can look at some of those other buildings that may have been on the market for a while and really have a positive impact on them and then at ongoing into the neighborhood around them as well.
Speaker 2:
16:18
Yeah, I, I love that. Right. When you can keep, uh, you know, the integrity of, of, of that building credit on the outside, but, uh, have it be new as, is there an advantage, you know, to using a rehab building versus anything simply new construction.
Speaker 3:
16:34
I think overall from an energy perspective, certainly, um, it is a little more difficult in terms of, um, you're not controllable from the beginning. You know, you never know exactly what you're going to find as you get into it. But, uh, we, we have a lot of ways of dealing with that now with, uh, you know, we can, we can laser scan and get exactly what the a current conditions are and uh, w we can still really have predictable outcomes in rehabbing a, um, you know, adaptive reuse situation just as we would with building a new building.
Speaker 2:
17:07
So I'm assuming Kyle now, you know, with technology, you know, progressing so fast and commercial buildings, you know, data, right? We have a lot more available, you know, how has technology and data, you know, impacted or changed, uh, you know, how you, uh, do your role right? Or how you guys, uh, monitor buildings?
Speaker 3:
17:28
Certainly. Um, you know, everybody talks about big data and the internet of things and just the massive availability of, of data. And, um, what we typically deal with, we don't get into the data as much from a construction side that's more on the operations side. But what we really focus on is, is the technology in the building and how we'll even change over the life of the product. So if you're talking about a, a two to three year build on a larger building, what, what may have been specified, uh, you know, one year before you actually start construction, by the time you go to install that product, it may be, uh, you know, a completely different products, you know, that product may not be available. Um, so we, we work a lot with that and try and think ahead of how the technology will actually integrate with the building at the time we construct it and then further on into the life of the building as well.
Speaker 3:
18:19
So, uh, you know, we deal now with software updates and far more updates, um, you know, basically anything that is connected to a network as a, as a firmware and software associated with it. And so we're tracking those through construction as well, um, to, to make sure that the product works most effectively and then also that it's secure. So the, the manufacturers are, you know, routinely releasing updates, which impact operation and security of those devices. And so we, we now track those, uh, revisions through the construction process so that we can do a successful, uh, turnover to operations as well. And, and really focus on the, the startup and activation of that facility. And, uh, you know, we, we actually have, uh, other new roles at DPR now where we have specific integration managers who work on these smart building systems. So we have sort of a more traditional, uh, MEP coordinators.
Speaker 3:
19:17
And we have system integrators as well that are working on the more, uh, complex integrations and understand the, the it side of it as well as the, the technical side and how they integrate with building systems. Kyle, you mentioned before that DPR has some really unique things, uh, for the community in the cities where you have buildings. What can you share about that? Well, one of the things that I'm really excited about with our new Sacramento office is we put a about 10 kilowatt battery backup system in there, um, which is of course nice for us, but the idea is that we can also use it as a community hub, um, in, in terms of, uh, if there's a natural disaster or an event where we needed to have that available, we can, we can offer it up and it's just one of the ways we try and be integral and indispensable to our local communities where we work.
Speaker 1:
20:07
That's so awesome. I love that. Is that becoming a trend more and more in, in the types of buildings that you're, that you're constructing?
Speaker 3:
20:17
Yeah, I think we're seeing it more and more. You certainly have to think about, um, the impact you're having on the community as well. And I think that is some of where the push for net zero energy and things like that come forward for the, the greater environment in general. But we really want to focus on the specific environment around our offices as well. Um, and actually in Sacramento we have some retail space, a rental space available on the first floor, um, to really provide, um, you know, we, we've got this really nice building that we just rehabbed and we want to, um, offer that to the community as many ways as we can.
Speaker 1:
20:54
That's awesome. I love what you're doing over there. Um, well we love to wrap this show up with asking our guests to provide a few pieces of advice. So what advice would you give a, we have a lot of energy and sustainability folks listening to folks like that who are looking to start net zero or smart building initiatives.
Speaker 3:
21:17
Sure. Uh, one thing from, from project conceptions of a new build, like, like we work with frequently is, um, even look as back as far as site selection. So the, the site can have a really big impact on the ways that you're able to achieve the goals that you want, whether it's a walkable to public transportation or has the right access or a solar or other types of renewable energy. And, um, if the site is really important to you, then that can affect some other things of, you know, if, if that's the place you want to be in, then you need to look at equipment selection and, and other ways that you can achieve the goals that you want. Um, certainly go out and look at other existing sites. You know, I don't think we really have, uh, many secrets and people want to show off our offices and, and you know, we, we certainly do and certainly, uh, have, have tours and visits all the time.
Speaker 3:
22:11
And I think people are really proud to show off these buildings. And so, uh, you know, use your connections and go to where other buildings and see what you like and don't like and, and see what's out there. And we kind of equate this to uh, you know, starting at the very beginning and getting the features you want in the building, um, versus doing it later. Like, like putting aftermarket parts on your car. So if you are able to buy a new car and pick all the features you want and those are designed from the beginning to work together, um, it, it just gets more difficult when you buy that car and then add on different pieces and parts later that are maybe not exactly designed to work with the building.
Speaker 1:
22:52
I love car analogies. They're my favorite.
Speaker 2:
22:56
It means I'm going to have to get rid of the awesome spoiler on the back of my 82 silica. I guess I'm, I'm done. [inaudible] so Kyle, when we talked to a lot of building professionals, because there's so much technology coming out, I feel like a lot of times people are identifying cool technology and then finding some way to use it in your bill. In their buildings, but, but I know you have a quite an opinion on actually identifying problems first in the building and then finding solutions to fill that.
Speaker 3:
23:28
Right. I go to a lot of trade shows as well and I see all the new things that are out in the, and I think that's the, the tendency a lot of times, um, too take a solution and apply it or, or look for a problem. But what we really try and do, um, through through surveys and observations in, in data is, uh, look for problems that we currently have, um, or ways that we could improve things we currently have and then go look for the best solution for that specific case. Um, and, and we find that it's a lot more effective in, in adoption of those solutions.
Speaker 1:
24:04
Kyle, do you have anything else you'd like to plug, um, about DPR or the work that you're doing?
Speaker 3:
24:11
Yeah. One more thing coming up a Cortech in November out in the Bay area. We're actually going to be doing a tour of our San Francisco office, will be a part of that conference and then also participating in the, uh, smart building showcase showing off, um, a few of our offices. So we'd love to love to see everybody out there for that event.
Speaker 1:
24:30
I'll be there. Uh, sounds awesome. Well, Kyle, we can't thank you enough for coming on the show and, and sharing, sharing all of your best practices and ideas with us. We hope you come back real soon.
Speaker 3:
24:45
Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm joining. Thanks Kyle. It's awesome. Look forward to seeing you
Speaker 1:
24:49
and for all of the listeners out there, this is the modern energy management podcast. Be sure to tune in and subscribe wherever you get your podcast. We are here every week and we will be back next week with another great story for you. Until then, have a great day.
×

Listen to this podcast on