How Is the Integrated Design Process Different

The conventional design process is linear and focused on problem solving, through the introduction of specialized knowledge. The design effort is typically driven by the architect, who makes a large number of critical project decisions, often using generalized experience from previous past projects, traditional rules of thumb, or standard assumptions. The dominant goal at the early stage of a project is meeting the program—providing a predetermined number of dwelling units, community areas, leasable commercial space, and parking spaces. Many of the fundamental aspects of the project—height, massing, orientation, allocation of space, and location of uses—are decided by the architect and developer without input from other professionals.


You know you're doing integrated design when:

• No single person or professional makes decisions about the project.

• You are asked to contribute to topics outside of your expertise.

• You are pushed out of your comfort zone.

• There is a spirit of creativity and fun.

• Clear goals and specific performance targets are established.

• Innovative solutions are encouraged.

• Everyone is interdependent—other people's work depends on you.

• The steps in the process, responsibilities, and timeline are clear.

• Someone is dedicated to facilitating the process.1

1. Barbara Batshalom, Executive Director, The Green Roundtable. Adapted from Green Communities Initiative Training, September 12, 2006, Los Angeles.

Other members of the design team are usually brought into the process only after the major design direction is established. Once engaged, the team members are expected to solve detailed problems related specifically to their expertise. For example, the structural engineer determines how to support the building; the mechanical engineer identifies how to heat, cool, and ventilate the spaces; and the landscape architect is asked to beautify what remains of the site after the building and infrastructure needs have been met. With each of the professionals on a separate, discrete path, there are few, if any, opportunities for a comprehensive evaluation of the project. Introducing proposals that would have a building-wide effect—such as changing the shape of the building to reduce the overall need for structural elements, or locating landscaping to amplify natural breezes—is difficult, and new information that emerges during later stages of design is often presented as a problematic disruption of the linear process, rather than as an opportunity. Lack of coordination during construction can result in late-change orders and additional time spent on resolving last-minute modifications to the plans.

The integrated process is iterative, value and systems based, and focused on performance. Throughout the design process, team members are brought together in a series of analysis and decision-making meetings or clusters. The process starts at the planning stage, in which potential sites are considered, the size of the units is determined, and budgets are established. This is the time to address many fundamental green building issues—such as reducing vehicle use, maximizing natural daylight and ventilation, increasing energy and water efficiency, generating on-site energy, managing stormwater—before the site plan and unit or home layout are determined and initial concepts are presented to the local government or the community.

Once the basics of the project are established and a schematic design of the building is complete, the next step in the integrated design process is for the entire project team to participate in a charrette, or collaboration-focused meeting, to discuss community context, orientation, massing, stormwater strategies, space allocation, structural systems, mechanical systems, budget, and construction logistics. The charrette is structured around questions, instead of pure problem solving. If we reduce the width of the building to improve ventilation, can we reduce the size of the heating and cooling equipment? What impact does a narrower building have on the structural system? In the charrette, all participants are expected to contribute to the full conversation and not limit their comments or suggestions to their area of expertise.

After the charrette, additional focused follow-up meetings are held to review energy modeling cost estimates, final plans, and specifications. Cost information is developed on an ongoing basis, so the conventional value engineering process1—in which major components of the project are often cut to reduce costs—is avoided. Instead, the team identifies ways to create the greatest value by comparing different options and identifying trade-offs between green strategies in an ongoing iterative fashion. By shifting effort forward in the process and looking at the building holistically and systematically, integrated design minimizes costly late-stage design changes.

It is also essential to establish a way to link the phases of the design process, so that ideas identified during the planning stage are able to make their way into the finished project. For this transfer of information to occur, someone must be designated as responsible for the green building aspects of the project. Often the developer's project manager is given this role as they may be the only person involved in all phases of the project and be the one who understands the financial implications of each decision.

0 0

Post a comment