The title of this blog post may sound like bureaucratic acronym speak, but I promise you each capital letter is meaningful. 

IPD or Integrated Project Delivery,  

UBP or Unified Building Process,  

PI or the Prototype Initiative, 

CIPO or Collaboratively Integrated Partner Organizations, 

CAMs or Construction Assembly Modules,  

BUSA or BuildUSA and 

BCE or BuildUSA Collaborative Environment.  

Each is a developing tool/process that will be integral to solving the myriad of challenges Building currently faces.  

Building shares the problem of siloed information with many other industries.  However, due to the fragmented and often fractious nature of building projects, building suffers perhaps the most extreme conditions of this malady. The manufacture and distribution of materials, development of documentation, creation of project teams that understand how and where data will be shared and decisions authorized—currently, all are done on a one-off basis. EVERY project starts from a blank slate. 

Incremental steps are being taken by many companies and associations to bring a coherent organization to all the data and processes that swirl around even the most basic building project. 

The following provides a very brief introduction to three of the acronyms listed above. The others will be described in future blog posts. Each acronym is a key developing tool or process that will provide critical solution(s) that will support Buildings’ future. 

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) came into being around 2007-2008, when two associations published IPD contract families for use within the industry. Put very simply, Integrated Project Delivery’s primary goal was to increase efficiency and quality by managing the historically confrontational nature of the industry’s legal framework. This framework often forced risk onto the companies least capable of understanding and managing that risk.  Typically, primary Subs and the GC are selected early on in the design stage. The entire AEC team incorporates Lean practices and is held jointly responsible for the work process and product. Legal contracts are arranged to provide benefits to the entire team if they exceed the defined parameters, and they are jointly held accountable if they do not meet expectations. 

IPD is an important step in the right direction and provides many incremental solutions for more equitable management of building’s risks and rewards. In striving to define measurable project goals and control project costs, IPD takes great strides in aligning the interests of the primary team members with the overall interests of the project. 

Nonetheless, the current state of the art in developing efficient workflows within the IPD paradigm continues to be strangled by the incomplete workflow processes, transactions and information points. Technology solutions are still siloed within software that cannot seamlessly share data with all team members and between the different software environments. Data and workflow siloes re-create inefficiencies, force work arounds, and induce frustration.   

The Unified Building Process (UBP) was originally developed by the Syntec Group in the early 1990’s to integrate the entire Building Process. But the early 1990’s were still far too early for the implementation of UBP. Even on residential projects (custom single-family homes), the challenges were too great to overcome:  the “primitive” level of technology; the industry’s conservative culture; the legal, financial and insurance framework within which the industry operated. 

However, times change, and the current state of the building industry is more favorable for implementing the UBP. UBP takes many of the ideas of IPD but assumes a different future for building. While IPD assumes that the building process will continue to be driven primarily by one-off boutique projects, UBP assumes that Optimized building solutions rise to prominence in the near future.  

The UBP business environment assumes that a new set of tools, relationships, capabilities and products are being developed and will be available in the marketplace within the next few years. These include  

  1. Collaboratively Integrated Partner Organizations (CIPO’s) 
  1. New Building Orders _ Optimized Buildings (Modular Solutions) 
  1. Common Data Environments (CDE’s), (for example,the BuildUSA Collaborative Environment (BCE)) 
  1. Construction Assembly Modules (CAM’s) 

In the next five years, Optimized buildings built with the tools, products and services introduced above, and combined with the IPD business steps already tested over the last 10-15 years—will enable “Optimized” buildings to evolve into a powerful delivery process in the Building Industry.  

According to UBP the marketplace of the near future will forcefully demand what the Prototype Initiative (see below) provides: 

The “Prototype Initiative (PI)” is a business strategy focused on developing a set of inter-disciplinary solutions for the building industry. It aims to create a branded process that provides 

 “High Quality,” “High Performing” buildings in a “Shorter Period of Time” and at a “Lower Cost”.   

There are three core elements that comprise the PI: Research, Process, and Execution. Each of these 3 elements assume that in the coming years the tools/processes being introduced above, will be widely available to trained project teams. 

I am sure we are all glad to now see the year 2020 in the rear-view mirror. 2021, will be a year filled with change and Building will be one of the change agent leaders. 

Stay tuned for a more detailed introduction to the other three acronyms listed above.