The integrated design process

Collaboration leads to innovation

An integrated design process (IDP) involves a holistic approach to high performance building design and construction. It relies upon every member of the project team sharing a vision of sustainability, and working collaboratively to implement sustainability goals. This process enables the team to optimize systems, reduce operating and maintenance costs and minimize the need for incremental capital. IDP has been shown to produce more significant results than investing in capital equipment upgrades at later stagesFootnote 1.

Benefits of IDP

There are many benefits to using IDP. The following table, taken from BC Green Building Roundtable's Roadmap for the Integrated Design Process - Part One: Summary Guide [PDF - 3.5MB], summarizes some of these key benefits:

Integrated design principle Benefits of successful integrated design Net benefits
Broad, collaborative team from outset Early formation of a broad, interdisciplinary team ensures necessary expertise is present when opportunities for impact are greatest. Collaboration harnesses the team's best effort and collective wisdom. Realization of challenging goals and objectives.

Realization of high-performance (sustainable) buildings.

Realization of more optimally integrated solutions.

Maximized benefits and quality.

Minimized costs.

Good team relationships that may result in lasting partnerships for future projects.
Well-defined scope, vision, goals and objectives Investing time up-front ensures common understanding and "buy-in".
Effective and open communication Transparency builds trust and increases team's best effort and enthusiasm.
Innovation and synthesis Fostering open-mindedness and creativity leads to innovation and synthesis, which allow the team to achieve the complex requirements of a high performance building.
Systematic decision-making A clearly defined and understood decision-making process can lead to better choices.
Tools like life-cycle costing can foster the type of holistic and long-term thinking necessary for sustainable design.
Iterative process with feedback loops Providing opportunities for feedback along the way allows lessons to be learned from start to finish.

Phases of an integrated design process

According to the Roadmap for the Integrated Design Process - Part One: Summary Guide [PDF - 3.5MB], there are seven phases that make-up the integrated design process. They are summarized below:

  1. Pre-design: looks at the relationships between the project and its surrounding environment to explore possibilities for the site, the users, and the owner. The scope of the project is determined and the design team is coordinated.
  2. Schematic design: investigates technologies, new ideas and applications while laying the foundation for the project's goals and objectives. Preliminary analyses are conducted with respect to finances and energy consumption.
  3. Design development: results in a schematic design concept being selected and approved by the client. Architectural, mechanical and electrical systems are considered.
  4. Construction documentation: finalizes all design development documents including calculations and specifications.
  5. Bidding, construction, and commissioning: is the time when the main design plans are realized. By the end of this phase, the team will have achieved a finished, fully functional, and well-commissioned building, ready for occupancy.
  6. Building operation: transitions the building from the design team to the building occupants. At this stage, final building commissioning has occurred and building operators have been fully trained on the efficient operation of their new building.
  7. Post-occupancy: efforts continue to monitor and maintain, measure and verify, recommission and evaluate. Post-construction provides an opportunity for feedback loops, facilitating continuous building optimization.

A full description of each of the phases, including the process, outputs, and roles and responsibilities of each team member, is provided in the guide.

What's next?
Even the best-designed and constructed buildings need to be kept in peak form through periodic recommissioning (typically performed every three to five years) or better still, ongoing commissioning. Learn how to keep your building operating efficiently with our Recommissioning (RCx) Guide for Building Owners and Managers.


External Links

For more information, see our External resources: New buildings page.