“DPR Exists to Build Great Things,” says the company's slogan. The Phoenix office of DPR Construction also builds for diverse Arizona clients, including itself. A sustainable regional headquarters project is currently under way.

“DPR is driven by two connected ideas: respect for the individual and a desire to change the world,” says Dave Elrod, DPR's regional manager. “We tell our employee candidates, 'We don't fit everyone.' Ours is not a prescribed, but a self-mediated environment, and all of our people are empowered to take on all the responsibility they can handle.”

The 213 employees in the Phoenix office generated $125 million in revenue for calendar year 2010—nearly 40% higher than in 2009.

“Our hiring process is rigorous and lengthy by design,” says Guy Sanders, LEED AP, who coordinates “people practices” for the Phoenix office. In January 2011, DPR was named to Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For list—coming in at 22, up from 57 on the 2010 list. The firm also ranks among the safest in the industry, with an experience modification ratio (factoring the cost of injuries and future risk) of just .54. The ratio helped land the firm at the top of ENR Southwest's Safest Contractors ranking four times since 2005.

Sustainability also ranks high in the firm's values. “As part of our hiring process, we look for people who have a passion for sustainable living, professionally and personally,” says Peter Berg, a design-build project manager who in the mid-1990s became one of the state's first LEED-accredited professionals.

“DPR people are driven by continuous change, improvement and audacious vision,” says Berg, who has completed four LEED-NC buildings in Arizona and is currently working on a fifth, the $129-million Health Sciences Education Building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, being built in a joint venture with Tempe, Ariz.-based Sundt Construction for the Arizona Board of Regents. Scheduled for completion in August 2012, the 268,000-sq-ft, six-story building is on target for LEED-NC Silver.

Berg is one of 32 LEED-accredited professionals in DPR's Phoenix office. The group has helped complete 13 LEED-certified buildings. Rigorous company protocols ensure compliance-plus with LEED guidelines, and its proprietary DPR greenBook documents methods for calculating LEED costs and benefits.

DPR pays for employees to take the LEED-AP exam as well as to further themselves through a variety of learning programs. “The kind of people we look for want to go out and get their LEED accreditation as part of their lifestyle, not just because of professional commitment,” Berg says.

DPR's new Phoenix office, under construction at 44th and Van Buren streets, is designed to revitalize a 1970s building that once housed Castle Boutique, a local adult-novelty store chain. Re-dubbing the project 'DPR Boutique,' DPR is targeting LEED certification and has challenged its team to reconstruct the building to operate at net zero energy, in which onsite renewable energy created is equal to or greater than the consumption.

“DPR culturally breeds a can-do attitude,” says Mike Medici, managing director of the Phoenix office of SmithGroup, the project's design firm. “When there are issues or design challenges or difficult situations, they always respond with 'let's figure it out.'”

Sustainable strategies on the project include rapidly renewable wood products, tubular daylighting and photovoltaic panels for parking covers. Evaporative-cooling shower towers and a thermal conductivity chimney act to pre-cool the hot desert air for high-SEER air-conditioning units.