In the interviews I conduct with professionals within the construction industry, there’s a single term that keeps popping up in conversation—Integrated Design. Integrated design is a trend in construction in which a building is designed holistically using input from key stakeholders, including architects, engineers and contractors. This is a 180 degree turn from the traditional approach to building construction, in which design flaws aren’t found until later in the process, when changes to design become more expensive to fix.

Integrated Design is beginning to gain traction in the construction community, mainly in green building projects. It represents a common-sense approach that melds design theory and practice. Those who are tasked with bringing ambitious design plans to life give advice and opinions during the design phase, limiting the number of design flaws that will appear down the road.

Also known as Whole Building Design, the concept allows architects to receive feedback concerning design elements from the professionals who work with the elements on a daily basis. Potential flaws are worked out in the beginning, before money has been invested in materials and labor. In turn, the design team works together throughout the entire construction process to ensure that the goals and standards of the project stakeholders are met. According to the article Whole Building Design by Don Prowler on the National Institute of Building Sciences website, “The 'Whole Buildings' process draws from the knowledge pool of all the stakeholders across the life cycle of the project, from defining the need for a building, through planning, design, construction, building occupancy, and operations.”

Integrated Design isn’t just for green buildings seeking LEED certification; it’s an economic approach to designing the buildings of the future.

Source: National Institute of Building Sciences

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