Monday, June 15, 2009

Round Green Peg - Square Brown Hole

Welcome to the Collaborative Revolution!

Advocates of green, sustainable buildings are struggling to pound Round Green Pegs through the Square Brown holes provided by traditional planning, design and construction processes. That effort is destined to fail. This post explores the role IPD, BIM and Lean processes play in achieving smart green buildings.

In a perfect virtual world a green building will come with a Building Information Model that interacts seamlessly with "smart green" building components, "smart green" utility providers, and a variety of other "smart green" systems, both internal and external, to the facility itself. Capturing spacial relations accurately and authoritatively in the design processes is an important step in creating "smart green buildings" and "smart green infrastructure", but it is far from the last step.

The reason IPD, BIM and Lean Construction processes matter - especially to sophisticated owners - is that integrated teams, working through integrated agreements, have the ability to exponentially increase the efficiency with which planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance services are delivered. The AEC Industry is 25 years behind Manufacturing when it comes to integrated business processes that facilitate the creation, use, and maintenance of the relational databases necessary to make IPD, BIM, Lean Construction - as well as Lean Operation and Lean Maintenance - of facilities and infrastructure a reality.

The good news is, since AEC is so far behind as an industry, we have a great opportunity to leap forward. We can literally leap from 60s and 70s era tools and business processes into the 21st Century. Doing so will not be easy, but we need not re-invent the wheel. Venture Capitalists always say "Third to Market Wins" and as an industry AEC is "Third" behind Aerospace and Manufacturing when it comes to integrated and virtual design, construction, operations and maintenance.

The current push for improved energy efficiency and sustainability of facilities and infrastructure presents a great opportunity for improvement. Federal, state and local governmental entities - not to mention private / institutional owners - are demanding "green buildings" and "green infrastructure" that cannot be produced efficiently or effectively utilizing archaic and out-dated Design-Bid-Build process. Unfortunately, the current procurement statutes and regulations - at federal and state levels - are incompatible with IPD, BIM and Lean - favoring instead inefficiency through bids and/or no-bid contracts, neither of which make any sense in an IPD environment.

Governmental agencies at all levels are desperately trying to hammer a Round Green Peg through a Square Brown Hole, and they will soon realize - as the GSA and USACE already have - that the success of any "green building" or "green infrastructure" is tied tightly to the ability of an integrated and collaborative team to plan, design, construct, operate and maintain those "green things" to do so in an integrated environment where the team can run "green games" in a virtual world prior to actual construction, not to mention the need to operate and maintain those intricate facilities in a web-based environment.

As the economics of IPD, BIM and Lean processes clash with "green dreams" the herd of ordinary planners, designers and constructors will be ruthlessly thinned by the competitive marketplace. Once the average consumer of design and construction services - especially in the public sector - realizes how incredibly inefficient it is to procure those services through the antiquated Design-Bid-Build process, those firms lacking the skill and knowledge required to deliver in an IPD environment will struggle, and many of them will fail. Such failures will proceed at an accelerated pace when the "green bubble" the federal government is inflating via subsidies and reckless spending bursts.

On the bright side, firms that cut their teeth on "green projects" that require advanced computer simulation for successful completion will be armed with the skills, tools and knowledge necessary to compete and deliver in an IPD environment. Those firms will be well positioned to begin pursuing "regular work" when subsidies for "all things green" begin to dry up. Again, firms that fail to develop the skills, tools and knowledge required to compete in an IPD environment will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Firms interested in learning more about how to create an integrated team capable of pursuing work in an IPD environment should email me at

Phone: 859-441-6033
Cell: 859-912-7747
Skype: JameswithCCR

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