Feature Article

How to Make Integrated Project Delivery Work for Your Project

Early successes with IPD are now legendary but also fostered misconceptions. We deconstruct those and provide tips to ensure collaboration translates to results.

April 22, 2015

The roots of IPD can be traced back to large healthcare projects, like the Sutter Medical Center Extension in Sacramento, California. But the approach is beginning to have broader applicability, proponents claim.

Photo: KMD Architects
The promise of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)—where key project members contractually agree to collaborate and resolve problems together—sometimes sounds like the stuff of legends. Some of the early projects heralded as successes include the Camino Medical Group medical center, where DPR Construction reported $9 million in savings on the $100 million project, and the Autodesk headquarters, which was completed in half the time usually required for similar buildings, all while cutting waste and improving environmental performance.

In the approximately ten years since those first successes, however, only about 200 projects have followed in their footsteps, leading some to think of those early IPD triumphs as the tales of giants: projects that met with such success only because they were big buildings, like a university or hospital, with enormous budgets and room to experiment. Typical projects must contend with smaller budgets, less-experienced owners, or project team members who are resistant to change. IPD is just too risky to seriously consider for the rest of us. Or is it?

(What is IPD, exactly? See Integrated Project Delivery: A Platform for Efficient Construction and the definition of IPD in the sidebar.)

As part of developing a guide on integrated design and delivery for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in support of greener buildings in North America, BuildingGreen interviewed industry practitioners from different workforce sectors about their understanding of collaborative practices. Through those interviews and subsequent research, we discovered four big assumptions people make about IPD, which we’ll take a closer look at here:

  1. There’s no way clients will pay for it.
  2. Architects and contractors will be sued to the moon.
  3. Smaller projects won’t see much payoff.
  4. All those extra people will just crowd the design process.

These assumptions don’t match up with how IPD is working on the ground, and the majority of experienced practitioners of IPD dispelled these as myths during our conversations. IPD could be a better fit for your project than you think, and a few key clarifications are all that may be needed to get an owner or the rest of the project team on board.

However, IPD still won’t work for every project. We’ll explain what the deal breakers are and give you advice for achieving the best outcomes either way.