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Sustainable, High Performance Projects and Project Delivery Methods

The first comprehensive study to explore the impact of project delivery methods and procurement procedures on achieving sustainable design and construction goals was released in early October. The Charles Pankow Foundation and the Design-Build Institute of America commissioned the Sustainable, High Performance Projects and Project Delivery Methods: A State of Practice Report.

The initial findings show that integrated delivery methods such as design-build (DB) and construction manager-at-risk (CMR) are superior in achieving or exceeding Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification goals, and that procurement procedure also has an impact on the level of sustainability achieved.
Researchers evaluated the three most common delivery methods: design-bid-build (DBB), construction manager-at-risk (CMR), and design-build (DB). Under DBB delivery method an owner contracts separately for the design and the construction phases, often awarding construction contracts to the lowest bidder. DB is a fully competitive project delivery system that awards contracts for both design and construction to a single entity composed of one or several firms. CMR is a delivery system in which the owner contracts separately but somewhat simultaneously with a designer and a contractor who not only performs construction management services but also had significant input during the design phase.
The study found that all project delivery methods had been used to achieve all levels of LEED certification (certified, silver, gold, and platinum). It also found that all procurement procedures (low bid, best value, competitive negotiation, qualifications based selection, and sole source) had been used to achieve all levels of LEED certification. However, some delivery methods and procurement procedures were more successful than others. Success was assessed through the ratings by LEED APs who have completed LEED projects and by identifying those projects that met or exceeded their initial LEED rating goals. Two key facts related to success:

1. Integrated delivery methods (DB and CMR) are used in 75 percent of the projects surveyed; and
2. Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) procurement was the most successful procurement procedure.
The ability to integrate construction knowledge early in design is essential to maximizing sustainability; therefore, strong preferences among LEED APs for integrated delivery methods on LEED projects is not surprising. Integrated project delivery methods either eliminate price competition or include price as one of several factors that determine the contract award.
In sum, Sustainable, High Performance Projects and Project Delivery Methods: A State of Practice Report provides insights for owners seeking to achieve specific sustainability goals. While all project delivery methods are in use, integrated project delivery methods are most commonly applied to projects seeking LEED certification. If owners choose QBS procurement methods to select team members, they may increase their chances to meet or exceed their sustainability goals.

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