Improving Efficiency In Construction
21st century construction has been filled with progressive and innovative buzzwords such as LEED and IPD. The important factor about these two buzzwords is the synergy that allows them to work hand in hand to produce a superior construction project. Construction, the second largest industry in America behind healthcare, has always been touted as one of the most wasteful industries and highly inefficient. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the Construction industry has decreased in productivity steadily since 1964 while all other non-farming industries have increased as much as 200%. With this realization, industry stakeholders have looked at numerous ways to deliver projects efficiently in terms of cost, duration and risk. One of the solutions crafted was Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) developed in the early 2000’s. Despite being a buzzword for quite some time, still less than 1% of construction projects in the U.S. use IPD.
The development of a team executing IPD requires mutual trust and quality contractors, more so than the lowest bidder as is common in Design Bid Build and Design Build projects. The risk/reward is spread evenly throughout the project delivery team consisting of the Owner, Construction Manager, Designer and Contractor at minimum, though major subcontractors are often included as part of the IPD team. IPD includes a significant amount of collaboration as early as possible in the project to avoid issues with coordination and constructability during construction. Thorough coordination results in lower cost and shorter schedules. Conceptually this makes sense but with very few projects using the framework, it hasn’t reached its full potential.
The main feature of IPD, early collaboration, also features prominently in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. Both IPD and LEED defer the immediate satisfaction of cost savings for the end goal of overall performance improvements and life cycle cost reductions. The same way that LEED creates synergies between like credit categories, LEED and IPD can create synergy between each other to allow for a more productive project.
There are two opportunities in the LEED system for early coordination amongst the project team. One is the Integrative Process credit which allows for the project team to assist with development of the owner’s project requirements and basis of design with emphasis on energy and water related systems analysis. The second opportunity is the LEED Design Charrette which acts as a schematic design workshop to review the integration of green strategies across building systems. Some of the systems include the building design, MEP systems, building performance, and civil engineering allowing for there to be a breadth of expertise to develop the most feasible and sustainable designs. This avoids costly changes during construction and reducing the scope of work, often removing sustainable aspects. This is similar to the IPD project team congregating as early as project inception/feasibility to review the same building systems to prevent coordination and constructability issues during construction when the cost implications are greater.
Simply put, the goal of early stakeholder involvement is to “…support high-performance, cost-effective project outcomes through an early analysis of the interrelationships among systems.” Over the next few years it is up to AEC professionals to motivate and promote LEED and IPD amongst project owners and developers to improve efficiency in construction, cut down on energy usage and create healthier spaces in tomorrow’s buildings.