Research Analysis and Decision Making

During the charrette it is common to identify a number of items as "maybes." Immediately after the charrette, the team should focus on determining whether these items are or are not a good fit for the project. Making these decisions requires research into whether the item is truly applicable to or feasible for the project and what additional costs are involved. Of particular importance are the major building systems. The mechanical engineer or green building consultant should prepare an initial energy analysis using RemRate, EnergyPlus, or other ResNet-compliant modeling software. Two or three optional approaches for the major energy systems and building envelope should be modeled to determine what approach is most energy-efficient. Combining this information with cost data from the contractor enables the project manager to give direction to the architect, mechanical engineer, and structural engineer about what system to pursue.

Research on specific structural, insulation, and roofing products should also take place shortly after the charrette and before the completion of design development. Specification of the exact products for paint, flooring, and other finishes does not need to occur until the construction document phase, but it is still important to prepare an initial list during design development in the event that material choices have an impact on other aspects of the building. For example, deciding to use exposed concrete in public corridors instead of carpet is an excellent way to reduce overall material use, dramatically reduce maintenance, and provide additional thermal mass in the structure, but modifications to the floor assembly may be needed to avoid excess sound transmittance.

Near the end of design development, a follow-up meeting should be held to review the green items and identify whether any additional research or analysis is needed before final decisions can be made about what strategies, systems, and materials will be incorporated into the project. At this point, enough technical and cost information should be available to make decisions about trade-offs—for instance, which has more lasting overall value: High-efficiency windows or a Cool Roof? A more efficient boiler or photovoltaic panels? Dedicated kitchen and bathroom ventilation or no-VOC (no volatile organic compounds) paint? This also the time to look for additional synergies: Can the excavation needed for below-grade parking be used to improve the financial viability of a geothermal system? Can the HVAC components be downsized because the building has a tight envelope and is designed for natural ventilation for most of the year? Can the number of storm drain inlets and the amount of piping be reduced or eliminated all together by providing a bioswale or green roof? Once these issues have been thoroughly reviewed, adjustments should be made to the plans and project cost estimates.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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