Integrated Design

Integrative design is a very progressive process that can be incorporated to heighten a project’s overall success.

It involves multiple areas of a project working together from the start towards one major goal.  In regards to green building, this approach is commonly taken to allow a building to achieve maximum efficiency, lower costs, and increase overall performance.  It can also help achieve LEED points if a building is seeking that certification.

In the instance of green building, integrative design has two definitions.  The conventional definition describes team members from all areas working together through a project’s development and progression.  The enhanced definition, however, includes the collaboration of what these various team members are working around:  climate, building design, use, and systems. Around 70% of the decisions associated with environmental impacts are made within the first 10% of the design process. Therefore, it is through the combination of these two definitions that a project can be planned and executed to its maximum potential.

Conventional Definition: People

All ideas stem from those who are working on a building project, which include multiple groups ranging from the client to the builder to the design team.  In the past, team members would work independently on their part of the project, resulting in an overall lack of coordination and communication, leading to many problems within the process and inefficiencies within the building’s systems.  Integrative design, however, promotes the collaboration of all of these groups. By working together, the team as a whole will have a better understanding of the project and will start their work together in the predesign phases and then continue to collaborate throughout the occupancy stage.  With all members on the same page from day one, lower costs as well as higher efficiencies can be achieved.

Types of People to Include

All groups involved with a certain project should collaborate, including clients, architects, project owners, engineers, general contractors, and more. Furthermore, project involvement should extend beyond the actual building to comprise neighboring buildings and residents, community officials, and local artists (to name a few).  By creating a large and eclectic community around a certain project, the overall process will be stronger and more beneficial.

Enhanced Definition: Process

Many factors are considered when designing a building: mechanical and electrical systems, building occupants, sustainability efforts, overall climate, cost, and much more.  With the use of an integrative design process, all factors are combined into four main areas:  climate, use, building design, and systems.  These areas are then analyzed by all team members to find synergies and similarities between them.  By doing this, different strategies can be utilized to design a more healthy and energy-efficient facility.

Please refer to the provided resources for more information, and for help on how to initiate an integrative design approach.  When looking for an architect, engineer, building contactor, or even a specialty group, it is always beneficial to seek out companies that incorporate integrative design methods.

Integrative Design Resources