Sustainable Building Design from Start to Finish (Week 2)

Last week we talked about the conventional building project and the reasons for using a more integrated approach. The first step was for a business to justify the project and identifies that they have a need. The second step is to document the business case and the needs of the business. The next step is to appoint a person or a team to head up the project.

Stage 2: Appoint the integrative project team and hire any outside consultants.

The client updates the preliminary business case and strategic brief to reflect the comments from the internal team and collates the pre-design and  pre-construction information, ready to issue a consultant team. The client will need to appoint a consultant team and other advisers such as an integrative project facilitator, an architectural team, construction manager, an independent client adviser, and a cost estimator. It is imperative that the Owner’s Project Requirements are thoroughly and clearly articulated during the pre-design or discovery phase.

This is also an opportunity to establish collaborative practices and agree on a program.  For significant projects, a construction manager and an architect should be engaged to conduct the needs assessment; it may also be appropriate for this team to produce a master plan that places individual design activities in context and sequence of delivery. This team will need to work with the client to aid the internal team in developing the strategic brief. Regardless of a project’s scope, research and programming is a crucial first step in developing a successful design. Criteria for the selection of the consultant team may include the client’s affinity for a specific architectural philosophy, the consultant’s experience with the building type, or, with sustainability requirements, a candidate’s ability to achieve high environmental performance in historic or new buildings.

A multidisciplinary team may include a contractor, engineers, landscape architect, environmental designer, artist, sustainability consultant, and other specialists, the architect or prime consultant will need to establish the core design goals in a collaboration with the client. The design team also may produce alternative conceptual approaches to the client’s needs, and graphics to visualize the discussion along with energy and basic environmental impacts. Refinement of research and integration with design are initiated. The project begins to take shape. Major options are evaluated, tested, and selected.

Such suggestions are meant to stimulate thought, not necessarily to describe the final outcome. It is worthy to note the importance of the team format at this stage: full involvement of team members is critical, as individual insights can prevent costly changes down the road. Continual collaboration between stakeholders also helps prevent expensive mistakes. Next week we will further investigate what it takes to build a sustainable or green building from start to finish.

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