For decades the construction industry has relied on the design-bid-build project delivery system, which separates the designer and contractor on a building project. But shifts in the construction industry, including an increased emphasis on green architecture and changes in regulatory standards to reflect environmental concerns, have led to increasing costs and delays in construction. The design-build process has arisen as a way to meet the new needs of the building industry, and is particularly well-suited to the needs of sustainable building projects.

Green apartment mockup on blueprints

Green apartment mockup on blueprints

Unlike traditional design-bid-build projects, in which different construction contractors bid on a completed design, in design-build projects the design and construction are both contracted to a single company. Instead of separating the people who design a building project from the people who do the building, the entire project is managed by a single company. Architects, designers, contractors, engineers, and developers are all able to work together on a project from the initial design thru to completion. This model reduces both the cost and the risk to the client.

Design build benefits include:

  • Reduced costs: A complete knowledge of the project allows design-build contractors to make cost-saving decisions about equipment, construction materials, and detailing. Also, prices for supplies and labor can be locked down early in the development of the project, which minimizes the potential for unexpected costs late in the construction process.
  • Reduced client risk: The potential for design errors is greatly reduced when the same team stays on the project from design and engineering thru the supply, installation, and warranty service.
  • Timely delivery: Because there is no lag time between design and construction, design-build projects can be completed more quickly than other types of building projects.
  • Single-point responsibility: When a contractor is responsible for the engineering, the project has a single point of responsibility in the designer/builder. Thus the client is relieved of managerial responsibilities as well as legal accountability. In a design-build project, there is never a question about who is responsible.
  • Constructability: Because designers and contractors are working together, contractors can become involved early in the design process to assess budgeting and scheduling issues, thus saving the client time and money during the construction process. When designers and contractors work together from the start, it minimizes the potential for expensive and time-intensive disruptions further down the road.
  • Thinking ahead: Design-build contractors will make recommendations about what can be done to keep projects costs low in the long term by including design features that minimize maintenance and labor costs.

These benefits make the design-build model a natural fit for green building projects. A design-build contractor will be able to work within the client’s budget and timeline to address such issues as LEED building certifications, energy efficiency, and sustainability goals. For clients who want to make the move to green building and design or who want to improve the efficiency of their sustainable building projects, design-build offers a cost- and time-effective delivery model for construction.