DPR Construction’s Phoenix office continues to make sustainability history.

The general contractor’s headquarters at 222 N. 44th St. in Phoenix is now the largest building in the world and only the second in the U.S. to achieve Net-Zero Energy Building certification to date.

Its Phoenix office has been officially certified as an NZEB by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) through its Living Building Challenge (SM) program.

rsz_dpr_hq_4Producing as much or more energy than it consumes, the building achieved LEED-NC Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). By being both the owner and contractor for the renovation project, DPR was able to push the limits on its sustainability goals for the circa-1972 building and turned the remains of an abandoned retail boutique into a “living lab” for the Arizona community.

“Net-zero is possible, even in one of the most extreme climates in the country,” said Dave Elrod, Regional Manager, DPR Construction. “We purposely chose a building that was nearing the end of its intended lifecycle in a redeveloping area to show our commitment to Phoenix and to demonstrate the impact revitalization can have on an urban environment.

“This building is another proof point of our ability to walk the walk of sustainability. Our Phoenix office will be a ‘living lab’ where anyone can see firsthand how our sustainable technologies work together in real life.”

The renovated 16,533 SF office building is located in Phoenix’s Discovery Triangle. In less than 10 months, the team, which included national design firm SmithGroupJJR and global consulting firm DNV KEMA Energy and Sustainability, researched, designed, permitted, and built a highly-efficient, modern workplace with a number of innovative sustainability features including:

>> 87 operable windows working in tandem with the energy monitoring system to open and close based on the relative indoor and outdoor temperatures;

>> 87-foot zinc clad solar chimney which creates a convection current to release hot air out of the building while drawing cooler air in;

>> Shower towers that act as evaporative coolers by working together with the operable windows and solar chimney to regulate building temperatures;

>> Twelve 8-foot Isis Big Ass Fans that enable free air flow within the office;

>> 82 strategically positioned Solatubes that nearly eliminate the need for artificial daytime lighting;

>> Online building dashboard to track the energy production of its 78.96 kW DC photovoltaic system and energy consumption of the building;

>> A “vampire” shut-off switch to thwart any electrical devices – microwaves, cellphone chargers, radios – that draw energy from power plugs when there are no occupants in the building.

In addition, the large, open interior encourages creativity and collaboration using only glass walls, plyboo-slat walls and plantings to mark conference and meeting areas. DPR employees are encouraged to take breaks at their onsite gym, two green-screened courtyards, café, or wine bar.

DPR’s headquarters won the 2012 RED Award from AZRE magazine for Most Sustainable Project.

“As we continue to push the sustainability envelope, the design decisions we make are so connected to how our buildings perform,” says Mark Roddy, design principal for SmithGroupJJR.

“We were able to take a 40-year old building and transform it as a living example for the community and DPR’s employees. This project demonstrates that it is possible to live and work sustainably, even in a desert environment.”