Integrative Design is Key to LEED Success


In the world of the built environment, the norm has been a linear approach to design.

  1. The architect designs the building.
  2. The civil engineer grades out the site to make the design work.
  3. The landscape architect, designs the outside of the building.
  4. The plans go to the contractor.

This is just a very generic list of how things could go. There are many variations. But the point is, much of the time there isn’t much collaboration. When there isn’t collaboration, there is miscommunication, and the project doesn’t go as smoothly as it could have.

LEED promotes integrative design. Integrative design is having all parties involved with the project in the same room to collaborate. From the projects inception, the owner/client all the way to the contractor on the job should be present to make the project a success. The architect, civil engineer and landscape architect are crucial members to work together to make the building as efficient as possible. Everything from the needs assessment of the site, to building orientation, grading/drainage of the site, passive solar, ventilation, etc., all parties need to be on the same page. These are just a few examples of the subjects that need collaboration! How many times has there been a headache on a job because there was miscommunication or egos in the way of a project? Imagine how great a project could be if it was the best project possible as well as a smooth construction process! Everybody wins!

In the process of working all these design issues out, the contractor can help with the actual building of the project. Help out the designers to create a more efficient way of constructing the site. In the end, we need to bridge the gap with the unwritten rivalries between designers and contractors. If there is successful collaboration, the project will go smoothly, more successful communication will occur, and the client will get the best possible product.

Though LEED does promote this practice, this is a practice that should be done in all aspects of design, LEED or not. Next time you are on a project, think about having all designers and contractors involved on day one. It will result in a great project!