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21 September 2020

Integrated Design: Working Better Together to Build a Thriving, Future-Fit Aotearoa

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In this time of challenging lockdown, I wonder how the title speaks to you and your experience of our industry? Heavy pressure and feeling isolated? Frantic timelines and constant value-management? Endless de-risking and worrying about cost, resources, access and if the client/project will even make it through? Shovel ready! Don’t even mention green, except what about those new Zero Carbon regulations… a stressful juggling of multiple issues with little relation to our wellbeing and future. And no time to even think!

COVID simply amplifies our existing industry mindset — Ready Fire Aim!

For me, this begs the question — what is the real purpose of our design and construction industry?

Just take a moment, close your eyes and ask yourself — what’s core to your life? Your family and their future? A chance to relax and fish, take the family on holiday to a beautiful place in NZ, catch up with mates for a yarn? Or really enjoying your work? What about leaving your legacy? That every decision and building you create is well-considered, leaves Aotearoa in better health, able to sustain its people, culture, economy and ecology for the long term?

The ‘pressures’ mean nearly every decision we make degrades the health of nature, builds inequality and often undermines society too (think leaky buildings, mould and asthma, and air pollution health impacts). Is our purpose simply getting by, borrowing from the future? It’s extremely de-motivating.

How could we turn this around?

What’s the potential? What could we do better? This is a key question the Living Building Challenge asks. It’s not enough to create a merely less bad version of the current. We need to ask ’what does good look like?’ and what does it take of us to go there?

A few years back Jasmax were in the running for Waste Management (WM) project, a complex multi-stakeholder light industrial and office fast track development for Stride — all the ingredients for a very stressful project. In my role as Sustainability Manager at Jasmax, the enlightened PM Simon Wilson at Pacific RDT asked, ‘how can we achieve a green building, on program and on budget?'

Simple, I replied — we use an Integrated Design.

Integrated Design Process (IDP) was created in the USA to overcome the barriers of ‘business as usual’ and deliver green buildings. It ensures that teams align around their values and purpose, gaining permission to work co-creatively so they can achieve optimal design outcomes of better quality, delivered faster and cost-effectively! ‘You what?’ I hear you say.

For the WM project, we re-designed the design process! Between Concept and the end of the Preliminary Stages, we facilitated a series of three all-team workshops with small focus workshops between. This allowed WM to share their core values and purpose, critical H&S, Green aspirations, Brand and Staff Equality as drivers to align the team. We used the focus sessions to rapidly explore multiple options around materials, waste, energy + water, staff wellbeing, workplace design etc, leasing and financials to make ‘optimal’ team decisions. So at this early design stage, everybody was responsible for success and able to focus on excellent workplace outcomes: quality indoor health, daylight and Red List free materials, serious water and energy efficiency all compliant with Green Star and Net Zero Energy.

The team feedback was positive, the developer and tenant WM became integral to the design process, the consultants were highly motivated, the ‘big wins’ cost less than little ones and the process was definitely more enjoyable. Whole-of-life value was compared against op-ex costs, which ensured this ‘optimal’ design survived value management. In fact, the EUI or ‘energy use index’ design goal of the office was 55Kwhs/m²/year and after six months occupation it’s running at 56kwhs/m²/year — spot on for Net Zero Energy. The project is a credit to all the team to try new ideas and engage with Integrated Design value. Waste Management is in the running for National Property Council awards. So:

  • Take the time to Aim — talk about and align the team around what you really value for you and the project!
  • Take the time to Aim — set some quality, cost and green stretch goals that motivate and everybody can contribute.
  • So….Ready, Take Aim and then Fire – and leave your positive legacy!

Jerome Partington is Sustainability Manager and Associate Principal at Jasmax Jerome.Partington@jasmax.com and Chief Engagement Office at Living Future NZ Rākeiora, home of the living Building Challenge and Declare ingredients label for non-toxic building products Jerome@livingfuturenz.org 

Want to learn more?
Creating Living Buildings and Integrated Design
professional practice short course 2020:
Learn how to deliver deep green cost-effective projects, Living Buildings and using Integrated Design Process. 

  • Auckland: 30th September & 1st October
  • Christchurch: 8th & 9th October
  • Wellington: 29th & 30th October

CPD and LFA available. Email Jerome on Jnpartington@gmail.com for details and registration
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