The Integrated Design Process

An integrated approach to green building is crucial to the success of any green project. Green building strategies should be incorporated into a project from the very beginning of the development process. This means considering the green building implications when reviewing potential sites and developing the initial pro forma financial analysis. Identifying the green options early gives time to check for consistency with the requirements of the expected local, state, and federal funding sources and to identify additional sources if needed. The long-term ownership of most affordable housing means that the developer is often responsible for the operation of the project for many years. Good early decision making is critical in obtaining the greatest benefit from the green measures and ensuring that the building systems and materials continue to provide benefits over the long term.

The key components of the integrated design process are as follows:

• Start early: Explore green strategies from the very beginning of the project's budgeting, programming, and conceptual design process.

• Foster collaboration: Engage all members of the design and development team in the green building conversations.

• Make a commitment: Convey and reiterate the importance of following green principles and the integrated design process.

• Set clear goals: Provide specific direction on how the project should perform.

• Enable feedback: Establish a communication structure that allows continuous review of the green concepts as the project is refined.

• Analyze costs: Review costs on an ongoing basis to ensure that the savings generated by integration are captured in the project financials.

• Follow-through: Carry the green concepts into the plans, specifications, construction practices, and operations.

Using an integrated approach requires investment of additional collaboration and design time at the beginning of a project to thoroughly consider and react to the many green options and interrelationships. The cost of integrating green building into a proj

FIGURE 2.1. The plummeting line shows the integration potential over time and the rising line show costs increasing over time.

Cost of Integrating Green Increases Over Time

FIGURE 2.1. The plummeting line shows the integration potential over time and the rising line show costs increasing over time.

ect increases over time as the project moves through the various phases of design (see Figure 2.1). In the long run, an integrated approach ensures that the design components work together effectively and efficiently, to satisfy project goals ranging from energy efficiency to healthy indoor air to environmental protection.

For first-time green builders, the integrated design process will be unfamiliar, and the team may need time to get comfortable with the process before becoming fully engaged. But even for experienced green developers, there are always new design strategies, systems, or materials to explore. In either case, a well-structured process that builds on past experiences, local examples, and national resources, and which is led by a knowledgeable green building advisor or committed member of the design team, will generate innovative and viable ideas for improving building performance while minimizing additional costs.

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