Results were recently released from the first phase of a comprehensive study to explore the impact of project delivery methods and procurement procedures on achieving sustainable design and construction goals. The study, titled “Sustainable, High Performance Projects and Project Delivery Methods: A State of Practice Report,” was commissioned by the Charles Pankow Foundation and the Design-Build Institute of America, and is being conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado, University of Oklahoma, Pennsylvania State University, and Michigan State University. The goal of the first phase of the research was to determine the state of practice in green building project delivery and procurement.

The initial findings show that integrated delivery methods such as design-build and construction manager at risk are superior in achieving or exceeding Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification goals and that procurement procedure also have an impact on the level of sustainability achieved.

Researchers evaluated the three most common delivery methods: design-bid-build (DBB); construction manager-at-risk (CMR), and design-build (DB). Under the DBB delivery method, an owner contracts separately for the design and the construction phases, often awarding construction contracts to the lowest bidder. DB is a fully competitive project delivery system that awards contracts for both design and construction to a single entity composed of one or several firms. CMR is a delivery system in which the owner contracts separately but somewhat simultaneously with a designer and a contractor who not only performs construction management services but also has significant input during the design phase.

The five procurement procedures sampled in this study were low bid, best value, competitive negotiation, qualifications-based selection, and sole source.

To understand the state of practice, the research team employed a 3-tiered research approach encompassing:

  1. Industry survey
  2. Content analysis
  3. Structured interviews.

The industry survey elicited 230 responses from LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED APs) regarding the project delivery methods, procurement procedures, and certification level on specific LEED-certified projects. The content analysis was based on solicitation documents from 92 public and private projects representing over $2.2 billion in building investment. Structured interviews were conducted with members of the industry as well as with owners to help interpret the results. Responses were received from 47 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The study found that all project delivery methods had been used to achieve all levels of LEED certification (certified, silver, gold, and platinum). It also found that all procurement procedures (low bid, best value, competitive negotiation, qualifications-based selection, and sole source) had been used to achieve all levels of LEED certification. However, some delivery methods and procurement procedures were more successful than others. Success was assessed through the ratings by LEED APs who have completed LEED projects and by identifying those projects that met or exceeded their initial LEED rating goals. Two key facts relating to success include:

  • Integrated delivery methods (DB and CMR) are used in 75% of the projects surveyed; and
  • Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) procurement was most successful procurement procedure.

The ability to integrate construction knowledge early in design is essential to maximizing sustainability; therefore, strong preferences among LEED APS for integrated delivery methods on LEED projects is not surprising. Integrated project delivery methods either eliminate price competition or include price as one of several factors that determine the contract award.

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Source: The Design-Build Institute of America