xhtml_trans xhtml Andrea Costa Engineering: What is integrated design process

From a traditional design to the Integrated Design Process

(freely adapted from: iiSBE guidelines)


Traditional design can be understood as a linear process, but sequential work routines may be unable to support any adequate design optimisation efforts during individual decoupled phases, which of course leads to higher expenditure. Although this is vastly oversimplified, this kind of process is one that is followed by the overwhelming majority of general-purpose design firms, and it generally prevents their performance from rising above conventional levels.

This is the result of design processes which initially appear quick and simple, but which then result in high operating costs and the creation of an interior environment that is sub-standard. Naturally, since the conventional design process usually does not involve computer simulations of predicted  energy performance, the resulting poor performance and high operating costs generally comes as a surprise to owners, users and operators.

The problems outlined above represent only the most obvious deficiencies often found in buildings resulting from the conventional design process. Although there are many exceptions, we can refer to a "traditional" design process as one consisting of the following features:

- The architect and the client agree on a design concept, consisting of a general massing schema, orientation, fenestration and (usually) the general exterior appearance, in addition to basic materials;

- The mechanical and electrical engineers are then asked to implement the design and to suggest appropriate systems.

- The design features that result from such a process often include the following:

- Limited exploitation of the potential advantages offered by solar gain during the heating season, resulting in greater heating demand;

- Possible exposure of the building to high cooling loads during the summer, due to excessive exposure of glazing to summer sun;

- Non-utilisation of a building?s daylighting potential, due to a lack of appropriately located or dimensioned glazing, or to a lack of features to channel the daylight further into the interior of the building;

- Possible exposure of occupants to discomfort, due to local overheating in spaces facing west, air turbulences due to strong air-conditioning or glare in areas lacking adequate shading.

If the engineers involved in such a process are clever, they may suggest some very advanced and high-performance heating, cooling and lighting systems, but these may then result in only marginal performance increases, combined with considerable capital cost increases.

It is important for the early design phases that concepts are worked out together for all design issues.

Integrated Design Process is a procedure considering and optimising the building as a holistic system including its technical equipment and surroundings and for the whole lifespan. This can be reached when all actors of the project cooperate across disciplines and agree on far-reaching decisions jointly from the beginning.

The integrated design process is not new in principle. What is new is that the knowledge and experience gained by an analytic consideration of design make it possible to formalise and structure the process and to incorporate it into design practice.

The integrated design process emphasizes the iteration of design concepts early in the process, by a coordinated team of specialists. The result is that participants contribute their ideas and their technical knowledge very early and collectively. The concepts of the energy and building equipment are not designed complementary to the architectural design but as integral part of the building very early.

Motivation and competence: A qualified project starts with team members who are willing to achieve a high quality design, to provide a wide range of technical and communication abilities and to deviate from traditional practices.

Clear objectives: Interdisciplinary teamwork is begun in the pre-project stage on the basis of a clear definition of goals and by applying different analytic and evaluative tools as needed.

Continuity of quality assurance: Continuous examination of the design goals by a qualified design management takes into account any number of structural alterations and disruptions from the outside over the course of the entire design and building process and during the initial period of building operation.

The integration of specialists at a later stage of the process reduces their opportunities to influence the design, since client and architect have already agreed on a sub-optimal solution.

useful links:

Whole Building Design Guide

Roadmap or the Integrated Design Process

International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment

Hystory of IDP

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