IPD and VDC can lead to project success

Engineers can leverage the integrated project delivery and virtual design and construction processes

By Robert J. Garra Jr., PE, CannonDesign, Grand Island, New York; and Brian Skripac, CM-BIM, Assoc. DBIA, LEED AP, CannonDesign, Pittsburgh October 10, 2019

Learning objectives

  • Understand the definition of integrated project delivery. 
  • Learn about the virtual design and construction process. 
  • Review a hospital project that successfully implemented IPD and VDC. 

Integrated project delivery requires a team approach and buy-in from all players, including the architect, engineer, contractor and owner. Virtual design and construction is a process that fully integrates all elements of a project by openly sharing design and construction models among the team, from design through construction. As more owners consider options to traditional delivery methods, IPD has emerged as an important alternative. IPD is a relatively new methodand is becoming increasingly popular.  

IPD is a process through which people, systems, business structures and practices are joined together to optimize project results, increase efficiencies, reduce waste and gain insights from all parties involved in the design, fabrication and construction phases. The basic idea is to identify who or which team is best able to complete the task at hand, even if it means stepping outside traditional roles. The process is built on continuous improvement and staying focused on achieving the project objectives outlined at the onset of the project. 

One of the most important components of implementing IPD is the roles and behaviors of the team. There is a fundamental shift in mindset that needs to occur from all project team members; instead of being focused solely on their siloed issues, they must focus on what is best for the project. This means the entire team must be committed to engage in the behaviors described below:  

  • Collaboration: Change in mindset from individual contracts to a collective project. 
  • Trust: Demonstrate reliability to build trust among all parties. 
  • Commitment-based management: Focus on system and project performance, not just siloed performance. 
  • Continuous improvement: Learn rapidly from outcomes that do not go as planned. 

There are typically five phases outlined to plan the IPD process, and the engineers are key players in each. The following are specific experiences that an engineer can expect to endure during the IPD process. The phases, noted below, are subtly represented in these experiences: 

  • Establishing goals and metrics. 
  • Understanding elements of the design. 
  • Taking time to refine. 
  • Documenting the process. 
  • Execution. 

The team also needs to balance doing the right thing and doing it right. This means focusing on who is best to perform a certain task regardless of company or role. The IPD process is outcome-driven, consensus-based, multidisciplinary and depends on shared accountability. To keep the project progressing in the manner described thus far, there are three groups that comprise the IPD management structure and help determine its success. Each partner is responsible for meeting the agreedupon cost for the contract, with financial rewards based on total project results, not on individual group results.  

  • Project management teamActs in a collaborative manner to provide management-level leadership during the design and construction process in a concerted effort to achieve the projective objective. The PMT is responsible for managing the budget, schedule and all administrative aspects of the project. The PMT at a minimum should include representatives from the owner, architect, engineer and construction manager. 
  • Senior management team: Tasked with resolving any matters referred to it by the PMT. The SMT compriseexecutivelevel representatives from each party that signs the agreement. 
  • Project implementation team: Leads the execution of the work, spearheading innovation and aiming to drive waste out of the process. PITs include representatives from all members of the team. Common PITs include civil engineer and landscape architect, project architect, architectural designer, architectural planner,  structural engineer, interior designer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, plumbing engineer and lowvoltage engineer. 

In a truly integrated project, the project flow from conceptualization through implementation and closeout differs significantly from a nonintegrated project. IPD will result in greater intensity with increased team involvement in the early phases of design. In the integrated project, design will flow from determining what are the project goals, to what will be built and to how the design will be realized. Conventional terminology, such as schematic design, design development and construction drawings, creates workflow boundaries that do not align with a collaborative process. 

Virtual design and construction  

VDC is a concept that is commonly associated with construction partners rather than building information modeling, which is referenced more in an architectural and engineering conversation. All too often, the industry uses Autodesk Revit interchangeably with BIM, which is unclear, as Revit is simply one of many technologies that can create a building model.  

In this contextBIM should be thought of as a noun or an object, i.e., BIM can be a deliverable for our projects. With this understanding in place, VDC then becomes the process of developing reliable multidisciplinary models to support the designconstructoperate continuum, which provides an opportunity to be a facilitator for the life cycle of the project, ultimately driving a new standard of care. 

Technology can only go so far, innovation in team and process is truly what makes BIM successful. This new standard of care leverages opportunities to advance the project management, project delivery and quality standards. We have seen a strong focus on the development of these VDC processes to drive bottomline cost savings and drive new business opportunities. 

A foundational element to this effort is being able to transform how we define what our deliverables truly are. The need to spend time detailing aspects of the building that will ultimately be overridden during the procurement and shop drawing phases become waste in the process while generating reductant sheets of paper that can cause confusion and result in a lack of clarity of the design and construction process rather than advancing it.  

This is echoed in Barbara White Bryson’s book The Owner’s Dilemma: Driving Success and Innovation in the Design and Construction Industry,” where she comments that “BIM is the perfect complement to collaborative teams, especially ones that care about the fluidity of information sharing and the coordination rather than the sanctity of drawings.” 

Streamlining workflow 

Leveraging a model-based delivery strategy drives opportunities for a consistent, integrated and collaborative project delivery method of solving constructability issues through the use of object-based virtual representations affording project participants a common language of the built environment.  

The resulting workflow enables enhanced certainty of outcome, improved coordination (reduced requests for information and cost), adherence to budget and scope and a reduced total cost of operation in accordance with the prescribed level of reliability of our multidisciplinary BIM deliverables achieving our client’s expectations through innovative project delivery methods and service line integrations. 

New collaborative delivery models — like IPD — allow engineers to leverage a model as a deliverable, which becomes a strategic advantage to how teams collaborate, communicate and drive leaner processes, reducing the redundancy and waste. This ability to properly set expectations of what information is critical to be in a building model, how it should be leveraged in construction and who will model what elements to a certain level of development for what collaborative use cases becomes an extremely important conversation.  

A powerful aspect of BIM in IPD is that shared models reduce redrawing as the virtual design evolves from phase to phase and from player to player within the building team. For example, mechanical, electrical and plumbing design engineers and MEP trade contractors working concurrently in a shared BIM allows the mechanical contractor to model system components and directly transfer the end design direction into their materials fabrication software. The result is wellcoordinated documents and cost savings through minimized labor on rework.  

BIM enables us to measure the constraints and external conditions relevant to building design in a very methodical, efficient way before construction. U.S Green Building Council LEED analysis, heating and cooling loads and daylighting studies are some of the value-add analyses possible using the BIM 

Further, design engineers use BIM as a dynamic tool to generate equipment schedules, as well as air balance and pressurization schedules. The information produced can be helpful to the commissioning agentbalancing contractor and building controls subcontractor, with values used to balance the systems on a room-by-room basis. 

Breaking down silos 

Ask anyone on the Bayhealth Hospital team, and the sentiment is the same: “This has by far been the most collaborative project I’ve ever worked on.” (See “Case study: Using IPD to fast-track a hospital”) A key reason for this successful collaboration was the co-location of the team in a single space. Not just the architect, contractor and client, but also every key trade partner. The team was organized into PITs, with a PIT for each core discipline, such as MEP engineers, project architect, interior designer and medical equipment specialists 

At the end of every colocation day, each PIT would stand up in front of the full team and give a report on its progress, ensuring all teammates knew the status of all aspects of the project. When issues or conflicts arose, the team was able to address them immediately as a group.  

The team subscribed to the “one model” concept. The entire team, including contractors, had access to the BIM via the Autodesk BIM 360 collaboration shared site. The design team developed the design using Revit and the contractors are using the same model for shop drawings, coordination and construction. The entire team uses tablet computers on-site to pull up the model and review field issues in 3D, identify and track issues and punch listing using the BIM 360 program. This method of VDC proved highly effective. 

For example, when the owner added a linear accelerator vault for radiation oncology to the program  a change that could have significantly challenged the schedule and budget  the entire team was brought together to develop a strategy that didn’t derail the project. The solution was harnessing prefabrication; instead of framing and pouring high-strength concrete for the vault, the agreed upon solution provided for a precast concrete contractor to fabricate high-strength solid concrete blocks and assemble them in place and on-site immediately after the foundation was cured.  

Getting to market faster 

In the world of health care where things change rapidly, bringing completed projects to market as quickly as possible is essential. It’s also key to keeping costs down. The team harnessed extensive prefabrication as a strategy to achieve this; items such as bathrooms, patient room headwalls, stairways plumbing systems and electrical rooms were designed to be modular and prefabricated.  

The concrete panels on the exterior were also precast. To ensure the precast panels supported speed-to-market, the designers went to the precast factory and strategized with the tradesman who ultimately helped design the ideal solution to close-in the building a month earlier than originally planned. Those discussions added tab details to the column shop drawings, allowing the connections for the panels to be totally prefabricated, further accelerating the enclosure.  

Asking the trades for their input, as opposed to telling them what to do, played a critical role in ensuring the success of the Bayhealth Hospital project. The team also trusted the trades with the Revit models. For example, the drywall team used the model to lay out every single floor. Even though the drawings did not have every partition dimensioned, there were zero RFIs regarding layout.  

Another key strategy involved sharing and pooling rental equipment. Traditional projects silo the trades’ responsibilities and rewards, encouraging them to duplicate equipment rentals and not share tools. The IPD incentive plan encouraged the opposite behavior; trade partners shared everything from ladders to lifts to safety gear. Using a “Bang-It,” which is a concrete insert set in place before floors or roof slab concrete is poured, also led to significant savings.  

After the team coordinated the plenumhung equipment, each trade installed more than 40,000 color-coded Bang-Its into the formwork before pouring concrete. This allowed each trade to hang ducts, pipes and electrical conduits without drilling or shooting into the structure; the connections were cast ahead of time. This resulted in 15 minutes of saved labor per connection point and more than $800,000 in savings for the project.  

Hospital excellence 

First and foremost, Bayhealth Hospital is a community hospital; during the community open house in January, the line of community members waiting to get in wrapped around the building three times. 

During the design process, the community was engaged through dozens of public meetings to discuss the design and address community concerns, as well as to show residents mockups of key spaces. The hospital staff also was intimately involved, with each department helping to devise their department’s programming and design needs.  

The seven-story hospital includes 128 private, same-handed patient rooms. Prioritizing the patient experience, each patient room provides views to the outdoors and ample space for family members and visitors. To accommodate future growth, the hospital includes shelled space for the addition of more patient rooms as needed. 

As one of the only emergency and trauma centers in the region, its emergency department is three times the size of its previous space. The hospital also includes a 70,000-square-foot outpatient center housing an integrated cancer center as well as outpatient rehabilitation, surgery, diagnostic services and more. 

Author Bio: Robert J. Garra Jr. is a principal and director of engineering at CannonDesign. He takes time to understand clients’ needs and their overall performance goals. Garra is a member of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer editorial advisory board and is a 2013 40 Under 40 award winner. Brian Skripac is director of virtual design and construction at CannonDesign. He continually drives innovation by focusing on the process orientation of the BIM-enabled VDC delivery process at the firm.