Building design and construction is complex, time consuming, and expensive. Buildings require a huge amount of materials and resources to create, and gobs of energy to operate. Complexity, time, and expense have steadily increased over the decades.
Building design and construction is complex,
time consuming, and expensive. Buildings require a huge amount of materials and
resources to create, and gobs of energy to operate. Complexity, time, and
expense have steadily increased over the decades. Recent comparisons made
between the building industry and non-building-related industries conclude that
the building industry is lagging well behind other non-building industries with
regard to productivity gains. Paul Teicholz, professor emeritus in the
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University,
published a paper in 2004 that shows a 0.59 percent annual decline in building
construction productivity compared to a 1.77 percent per year increase for
non-farm industries between 1964 and 2003. His findings have created a lot of
commotion within the construction industry as it struggles to understand why it
lags so far behind and what can be done about it.
Some in the industry have dismissed Teicholz’s findings as wildly inaccurate
and akin to comparing an apple to an orange. It is pointed out that his data
pool, from the automobile and the oil and gas industry, among others, cannot be
directly compared to the construction industry in any measurable way.
Non-construction industry activities are well-controlled, highly automated, and
easily measured and documented. The construction industry is a polar opposite.
A 2008 paper “Measuring and Improving the Productivity of the U.S. Construction
Industry” finds that the magnitude of the productivity problem in the
construction industry is largely unknown and concludes that:
“The debate about whether construction productivity is declining, holding its
own, or increasing can not be easily resolved, because there are no
industry-level measures of productivity for either the construction industry as
a whole or its components (i.e., commercial, industrial, public works, and
residential). Such measures do exist for manufacturing, and they are routinely
disseminated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
Despite the uncertainty about what is really happening within the construction
industry, a majority enthusiastically support the idea that it is grossly
inefficient and in need of immediate correction. The industry had focused on
project delivery methods as a major contributor to the inefficiency. The theory
goes that the method most used by the industry, design-bid-build, sets up an
adversarial relationship between the owner, architect, and contractor that
leads to increases in cost and time and an ever-present threat of litigation.
It has been suggested that adopting a more integrated approach will result in a
more harmonious, equal risk distribution situation that improves efficiency and
performance. Delivery methods, such as design-build, partnering, integrated
project delivery, and performance-based contracting are examples of
alternatives to traditional design-bid-build.
A GREENER PROJECT
So what project delivery method will result in the greenest building? Is there
one that is clearly superior to the others in maximizing a building’s
sustainability? In a traditional design-bid-build scenario, an architect is
hired directly by an owner and designs to the owner’s program requirements. If
sustainability is one of the requirements, the architect is responsible to
incorporate accordingly. The owner bids (or negotiates) a price from a
contractor to build from the documents prepared by the architect. DBB requires
that each party subscribe to a very strict set of rules in performance of their
respective tasks. The architect designs and produces the documents, the
contractor builds to the documents, and the owner pays the bills. Engaging in
any activity outside of the contractual duties and obligations incurs risk that
none of the parties can afford to take on.
In a design-build scenario, the owner hires a single entity to design and build
to its programmatic requirements. This removes some element of risk and
theoretically increases efficiency and reduces cost and time. Typically, the
contractor and architect are joined together to become the design-build entity.
Because the contractor and architect are partners, risk of litigation between
them is mostly eliminated. There is, however, still a potential for litigation
between the design-builder and the owner.
Some argue that greener buildings can be built using DB over DBB, but a recent
research paper “Sustainable, High Performance Projects and Project Delivery
Methods a State-of-Practice Report” cites studies that conclude that the DB
method is no more capable of delivering sustainable objectives than traditional
DBB. It goes on to say:
“Other studies found mixed results when comparing the project delivery methods
as related to high performance construction. In one study comparing project
delivery methods to high performance project success, DB was found to have
attributes strongly associated with success but it was concluded that a
relationship between DB and green design did not explicitly
THE FUTURE OF BUILDING DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
A new type of delivery method promises to remove all risk among the parties,
increase efficiency, reduce cost and time, and make more sustainable buildings.
This method is referred to as integrated project delivery. An AIA document,
“Integrated Project Delivery: A Guide,” highlights the following main benefits
Facilities managers, end users, contractors and suppliers are all involved at
the start of the design process.
Processes are outcome-driven and decisions are not made solely on a first cost
All communications throughout the process are clear, concise, open, transparent
Designers fully understand the ramifications of their decisions at the time the
decisions are made.
Risk and reward are value-based and appropriately balanced among all team
members over the life of
The industry delivers a higher quality and sustainable built
The document identifies sustainability as a key area of opportunity for
improvement over traditional delivery methods and suggests
“Metrics can be established for lifecycle goals for all aspects of a project.
Ratings criteria such as Green Globes, LEED or SB Tool may be melded into the
overall goals and incremental steps monitored throughout the design and
delivery process. The opportunity also exists to set goals for carbon footprint
and incorporation of alternative energies.”
Evidently, the AIA is so convinced that IDP will be a widely used alternative
to DBB, it developed an entire suite of documents specifically written for IDP.
Two sets of IPD documents are available from the AIA. The first is a
transitional approach to IPD, with a lot of content similar to DBB, but with
some IPD elements thrown in. The backbone of this series of documents is
A295–General Conditions of the Contract for Integrated Project Delivery. One of
the main differences between A295 and its DBB-equivalent A201, is that the
entire team (owner, architect, consultants, contractor and subcontractors) is
engaged and participatory throughout the design process. Four design phases are
established in the document: “Conceptualization,” “Criteria Design,” “Detailed
Design,” and “Implementation Documents.”
In each of these phases, the entire team works together in collaboration as the
project develops. Once construction begins, the relationship among the parties
reverts to a more traditional DBB approach, and most of the language in this
group of IPD documents is taken from A201. It is anticipated that because of
the highly integrated design process problems inherent during construction of a
traditional DBB method are largely eliminated.
A second IPD document from the AIA, C195–Standard Form Single Purpose Entity
Agreement for Integrated Project Delivery, represents the Full Monty of IPD
agreements. Document C195 envisions that the owner, architect, and contractor
will be a single entity, and will be separate “members” of the newly formed
“company.” Other “members,” such as the mechanical contractor, the elevator
consultant, the acoustical consultant, etc., may be added along the way as the
Is a more sustainable building guaranteed simply by using an integrated project
delivery method, as the AIA suggests in its IPD Guide? Probably not. There is
no specific reference in any of the AIA IPD documents to sustainability or any
of the other IPD documents that I have read. The idea is that because of the
required early collaboration among team members, sustainable building features
stand a better chance of succeeding than in the traditional DBB alternative.
And this may be true, but with any delivery method chosen, sustainable criteria
must be established, and the owner must agree to pay for it. W&C