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Integrated Project Delivery

From a business perspective, integrated project delivery (IPD) is a single tri-party contract between a minimum of the architect, building owner, and general contractor.

Integrated Project Delivery

Sep 27, 2010 2:46 PM,
Provided By InfoComm International

From a business perspective, integrated project delivery (IPD) is a single tri-party contract between a minimum of the architect, building owner, and general contractor. Other consultants or trades may join in on the contract, but the three main parties are unchanged. The hallmarks of a true IPD project, in addition to the presence of a binding contract, are early and substantial involvement of all parties, joint risk and reward via a shared profit or loss, lean construction techniques, consensus-based decision making, and an agreement to settle issues without litigation.

From a tactical perspective, IPD means that the three principal parties plus any other pertinent consultants or trades sit down together as a project team from day one. Information is exchanged via building information modeling (BIM) or another form of virtual modeling so that any problems, concerns, or hazards are identified and worked through early in the process. The successful collaboration of all parties minimizes the clashes and surprises that sometimes happen between parties once construction begins.

“Let’s clarify how IPD is defined before we get started because, like BIM, everyone’s got a slightly different interpretation,” says Jim Summers, a senior IT analyst and associate at architectural design firm Burt Hill who is responsible for the firm’s practice technology efforts.

Summers explains that Burt Hill has long conducted business with an open team structure to optimize the project through planning, design, and construction. Each project presents different opportunities to leverage process and technology improvements and, depending on these and other factors, different contractual structures such as simple agreements or customized IPD contract.

Craig Janssen, managing director at AV consulting firm Acoustic Dimensions, says that IPD is gaining traction in the AV industry because “this is the time to do radical things. It’s the time to take risks and innovate. The AV industry needs to understand IPD and the cultural, contractual, and financial impacts it has on us.”

Path to true collaboration and integration

“The question of how to integrate into the IPD process for the first time is a common fear,” explains Laura Handler, director of virtual design and construction at construction management firm Tocci Building. With design partner KlingStubbins, Tocci completed the first IPD project on the East Coast in 2009—Autodesk’s AEC headquarters in Waltham, Mass. “AV technology was a huge part of the Autodesk project, but that may not always be the case on every IPD project. The end goal for AV may not be to join every IPD contract, but AV practitioners still need to understand the collaboration portion of the process.”

Handler says that trades should develop their organization’s collaboration skills first before tackling an IPD project. “You can ask anyone for help with the IPD process or technology, but it’s imperative that you understand collaboration,” she says. “Reaching out to others who are embracing IPD is another tool to learn collaboration.”

The entrance of IPD into the AV industry’s consciousness is well-timed. The economy has taken a toll on the construction industry, and building owners who are willing to invest in new construction are looking for partners in the process; not just vendors. “Now is the time for AV to work on trust relationships because IPD requires a high-trust relationship for it to work,” Janssen says. “IPD is an invitation club, not a low bidder’s club.”

The delivery model is changing

According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the design/bid/build model results in 38 percent of projects that are behind schedule and/or over budget. Their research suggests that percentage is cut in half when implementing collaborative techniques like IPD, which usually means more man hours spent during the planning phase where potential problems are identified and addressed.

The value add of IPD is getting the richness of information and expertise into the project as early as possible. For the AV industry, that offers the opportunity to inform the project rather than fill in placeholders created by others. As AV touches more of the building, the industry’s ability to help define the project is beneficial.

BIM plays a large role in IPD

InfoComm International has convened a BIM task force to raise awareness within the AV industry. “The biggest issue with BIM right now is interoperability and how to get elements of all industries working together,” says Janssen, a pioneering member of the BIM SIG.

AV’s voice in the interoperability discussion is small compared to the rest of the construction industry, so Janssen says that the industry needs to concentrate on education for the time being. “Many AV practitioners still don’t know what BIM is and what it means,” Janssen says. “BIM is a powerful manufacture, design, construction, and building lifecycle tool. Ten years from now, we will look back and see how BIM changed the way we do business.”

What’s Next?
In January 2010, InfoComm’s board of directors appointed a BIM task force to formulate a strategy for educating the AV community on the importance of BIM and IPD. In late 2010, the BIM task force will be releasing a comprehensive 30-page report explaining BIM and the role it can play in the low-voltage community. In addition, InfoComm will begin taking steps to automate certain AV functions in BIM software, so that products will appear in a dropdown menu.

This is an excerpt of an InfoComm International special report, Integrated Project Delivery: Three Reasons Why AV Should Pay Attention. To read the report in its entirety, visit

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