Part VIII: Lean, Mean and Green – The Series

Integrated Project Delivery and ABC’s Home Makeover

So applying these ideas to the current AEC industry, I believe that the new approach to designing and constructing projects is on the horizon. But, not immediately, as the recession has the industry deep in the throws of price wars. Interestingly though, right now would be the BEST time to try to advance and adopt new ideas. Many firms are already in the process of utilizing new tools and new delivery models for projects.

In a new delivery model, the role of the owner is not much different than it is now, except that they would be part of the entity that designs and builds the project, not just the owner that contracts the work. The role of the architect will be to the design (branding) of the building; be responsible for life safety concerns and to use Building Information Modeling to select the proper building systems that will create the best combination of use of land, aesthetic design, efficient construction, envelope protection and quality indoor environment. The contractor would be responsible for taking that information and working with suppliers and subcontractors to create the detailed plan of how the building actually goes together and constructing the building.

Actually, this method is not new, it just has not gained ground yet. It is called ‘Integrated Project Delivery,’ and is coming. Check out http://www.aia.org/contractdocs/AIAS076706.

You may think I’m nuts, but I think the most of what happens on ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover applies to this discussion of Lean, Mean and Green and Integrated Project Delivery. For one, the short duration of construction (1 week) requires an awful lot of pre-planning, design and prefabrication. Of course, they leave some of the final touches of design till the end, so they can really take time to make it personal. Many of the projects incorporate sustainable design elements such as smart use of existing land, daylighting, high performance envelopes, and high efficiency systems. And these are custom designed projects – not ‘cookie cutter’ homes. So they are delivering a high quality product, with great design and in a short time frame. Of course, if it were not for volunteers and donations, these houses would be very expensive.

But let’s say we gave them two months to build it – longer than the very short one week period, but substantially shorter than a normal home building cycle – I’d wager that using some of the same tactics of planning, design and fabrication tactics, the home could be built for a reasonable cost, with a high level of quality, a custom design, and in a shorter time frame. I know this may not be totally accurate, but it makes you wonder:

‘What is possible when you create a team that REALLY works together, each contributing what they do best, in a truly collaborative process?’

I think the answer is: ‘Anything.’