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Integrated Project Delivery pulls together people, systems, business structures and practices

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As building projects become more complex and the technology behind them grows exponentially, an integrated approach must become the norm, writes Jon Hobbs, FRAIC, executive director of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
Jon Hobbs
Jon Hobbs

Jon Hobbs, FRAIC

As building projects become more complex and the technology behind them grows exponentially, an integrated approach must become the norm.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) pulls together people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that brings together all of the participants to optimize project results, reduce waste, maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction – ultimately increasing value to the owner.

An IPD team works collaboratively, and includes more than just the basic triad of owner, architect, and contractor. Collaboration should begin at the early design stage and continue until project handover.

With today’s buildings, large and small, using integrated project delivery, a whole list of definitions will become part of our lexicon.

A short primer on the basics.

•4D Building Information Model — incorporates the dimension of time used to visualize a construction schedule.

•5D Building Information Model — incorporates cost data, used to automate quantity takeoffs for cost estimating. 5D used with 4Dcan be used to predict cash flow.

Some larger architectural firms, notably NBBJ in the United States, are creating new contractual agreements for use in Integrated Project Delivery and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) expects to launch a new contract for use with IPD this spring. The RAIC board of directors, at its meeting in January 2008, agreed to establish a task force to develop a template for these new types of agreements.

Some label these contracts Project Alliance Agreements, in which the key participants collectively assume responsibility for the project’s performance. The profit (or loss) to each participant is determined by the team’s success in meeting project goals, not by individual performance. The shared opportunities and responsibilities bring together the parties’ interests and are the incentive for collaboration and blame-free performance. To make this process work, all decisions must be unanimous, disputes resolved without litigation and within the group, and compensation is determined from the outset on an open-book basis.

Often, to achieve many of these goals, a Single Purpose Entity (SPE) is created for the specific project, often a limited liability company or a limited liability partnership. This SPE usually is dissolved once the project is completed and its financial goals met.

The entire effort is a Virtual Organization centred around the project goals, not the participants. To facilitate management of the project, co-location may be used to promote efficient communications.

The movement towards IPD is assisted by the Building Information Model, commonly known as BIM. BIM is a digital model of the physical and functional characteristics of a building project. It is a shared knowledge resource for the information that makes up a facility.

Clearly the construction and design industry is changing. As the AIA points out, “Technologies are allowing great advances in efficiency and accuracy, but changes in processes are even more significant in new delivery methods. To be successful, an integrated project requires that the designer, constructor, owner and other participants in the enterprise take on new roles and competencies. This is a significant change in culture for all team members.

However, the change may not be as daunting as one might think. Generational skill sets (i.e. communication skills of baby boomers vs technology skills of the X or Y generations) yield surprising depth in necessary talent within existing firms in all areas of industry.

The leveraging of those talents with the addition of effective collaboration with key project participants earlier than is traditional, yields a formula for success.”

It is time for all stakeholders in the design and construction industry to investigate how integrated project delivery can add value and make Canada’s largest sector more productive.

Jon Hobbs, FRAIC, is executive director of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

by Raic Corner

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