Feature Article

Integrative Process: Pathways to Performance and Regeneration

An integrative process can streamline workflows and drive higher performance. But if you do it well, it’s so much more.

View from above the patio area of a multifamily building, with people, outdoor tables, and trees.

Casa Adelante at 2060 Folsom, designed by Mithun, is a 127-unit building consisting mostly of two- and three-bedroom family apartments in San Francisco’s Mission District. An integrative process helped the team achieve goals like equitable electrification and has continued into occupancy through resident assistance with HRV system instructions.

Photo: ©Bruce Damonte
“It should be intuitive, but it’s not,” said Pauline Souza, FAIA, partner and director of sustainability at WRNS Studio. The “it” in question is the integrative process—ongoing interdisciplinary collaboration that begins during early design and ideally continues well into occupancy. Although project team integration may seem ubiquitous these days, most experts agree that any perceived change in how buildings are designed and built is largely superficial. As Souza put it, most teams are practicing “coordination, not collaboration.”

Yet, done right, the integrative process holds great promise. Practitioners say it improves building performance while identifying cost savings, helping teams arrive at unique solutions and opportunities that would not otherwise be discovered. Indeed, many believe true sustainability, in the form of regenerative design and construction, cannot be achieved without these intense levels of collaboration. Proponents also point to other benefits, including shorter project timelines (because of extra time spent upfront on pre-design), as well as something more intangible—a more humane, inclusive, and even joyful work climate.

But the barriers to this method of working—conventional contractual structures, lack of owner awareness and buy-in, and entrenched disciplinary boundaries—are immense. That’s probably why the industry has yet to overcome them.

In this report, we’ll discuss how to implement the integrative process by recognizing and making corrections when it’s not happening, overcoming the significant barriers to culture change, and leveraging existing drivers of integration. Then we’ll explore how the integrative process has improved outcomes—both tangible and intangible—for real projects.

Published January 18, 2023

Melton, P. (2023, January 18). Integrative Process: Pathways to Performance and Regeneration. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/feature/integrative-process-pathways-performance-and-regeneration