As an industry-wide initiative is currently aimed at ways to improve productivity, lower costs and increase sustainability, traditional project delivery methods must undergo a fundamental structural change. Integrated Project Delivery, or IPD, is redefining the entire building process, providing contractors with unparalleled flexibility and foresight. Through the IPD process, Limbach Company can leverage model-based technology, such as BIM, to engage in a concurrent engineering process that permits all project stakeholders to collaborate on a building’s design, construction and lifecycle. This globalized functionality with other construction companies binds team success to project success, sharing risk and reward and ensuring optimized project outcome.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) defines IPD as “a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.”
This definition was published in a 2007 report created by the AIA California Council titled: Integrated Project Delivery: A Guide. The intention of this guide was to provide the AEC industry with a model to realize design and construction convergence by listing the principles of IPD and detailing the steps involved when establishing an integrated project. The report was created in response to what AIA view as major inefficiencies in the traditional delivery methods dominating today’s marketplace. According to Markku Allison, resource architect for AIA Strategy and Business Development, “Project delivery methods must change to increase the quality, cost effectiveness and sustainability of the built environment.”
In supporting AIA’s argument for the necessity of an industry-wide change, the report identifies how construction productivity has seriously suffered due to a lack in interoperability; sighting a 2004 study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST had commissioned the study in an attempt to quantify the efficiency losses in the U.S. capital facilities industry that are a result of inadequate interoperability. The report examined the various elements involved in a construction project, including design, engineering, facilities management, business processes, software systems and redundant paper records management across the entire facility life cycle. The NIST estimated that poor interoperability cost the U.S. capital facilities industry $15.8 billion in 2002 – which is likely a conservative figure. In comparison, statistics published by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that in the last 40 years, while non-farm productivity has increased by over 200 percent, productivity in the construction industry has actually declined.
BIM-enabled Virtual Construction is allowing for the high level of convergence between project stakeholders required to solve this issue of productivity. The full potential of IPD is unlocked through BIM, as it introduces unprecedented levels coordination and efficiency to the industry.
By using IPD in conjunction with BIM, real-world performance and facility operation can be precisely depicted in the pre-construction phase. All environmental elements can be considered and planned for accordingly, enabling a real-time understanding of how design decisions will impact energy consumption and building lifecycle. Also, potential design conflicts can be identified and corrected prior to construction, reducing field coordination errors and saving serious time and money.
Client demands and cost considerations are driving significant and rapid changes in methods of project delivery. Without a doubt, the future of the construction industry lies in Integrated Project Delivery. Resulting from a convergence of opportunities brought about by advances in interoperable software and data systems, IPD can satisfy the building industry’s long-standing desire for more predictable, accurate and responsible outcomes. As among the first mechanical contractors to embrace IPD, Limbach has set a precedent for all other companies to follow. IPD will enable us to deliver projects faster, cheaper and with increased energy efficiency.