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Clarifying the Integrative Design Process: ANSI Standard gets an overhaul with IP Version 2.0

NoraDaleyPeng-web The long awaited Integrative Process (IP) Standard for Design and Construction of Sustainable Building and Communities (VERSION 2.0) was recently released for ANSI (American National Standards Institute)  Ballot Vote. Nora Daley-Peng, AICP, led O’Brien & Company’s participation in the IP Standard Review Process provides a sneak peek at the Standard and discusses how it will redefine design teams, yield more creative and cost-effective design solutions, and improve the environment for all living systems.

New Year’s resolutions are great, but you know what is even better? Starting off the new year with a major accomplishment. When I opened my email on January 1, 2011, I was delighted to hear from Bill Reed, President of the Integrative Design Collaborative that he and John Boecker of 7 Group had just put the finishing touches on the new draft standard for Integrative Process (IP). This feat comes after more than a year of intensive work on updating the ANSI Standard for Integrative Process (aka Whole System Integration Process). The source material for updating the IP standard is based on another monumental effort of Bill and John – a book entitled the Integrative Design Guide to Green Building: Redefining the Practice of Sustainability

As a national standard, the IP Standard is intended to provide a common reference for all industry practitioners (owners, architects, builders, engineers, landscape architects, ecologists, manufacturers, and so on) in support of process changes needed to effectively realize cost savings, a deeper understanding of human and environmental interrelationships, and an improved environment for all living systems.

Last year, O’Brien & Company participated on a review committee of the draft outline of the IP Standard that was graciously organized and hosted by Vulcan Real Estate. The committee’s feedback helped clarify and strengthen the document.

So how is IP version 2.0 different and better than the current standard? The substantive changes in IP version 2.0 include: 

  • a preface that explains what IP is and presents the business case for using IP;
  • a step-by-step process for using IP during design and construction;
  • a certification to the IP Standard i.e. Project Team Leader attests that IP was utilized; and
  • a glossary of terms.

What is an Integrative Process?
The Integrative Process (IP) is holistic approach to achieving cost-effective, energy-efficient and environmentally-responsible solutions that meets the specific needs of the intended users as well as the greater community. The Integrative Process welcomes multiple perspectives right from the start of the project through to the finish and beyond. With IP, design teams are expanded to include owners, operators, occupants, contractors, scientists, artists, students, and community members. Design solutions are developed and critiqued collectively to reveal opportunities and address challenges rapidly. The process accelerates brainstorming, thematic identification, data gathering, and idea testing to yield comprehensive design solutions to complex problems.

A key distinction of an integrative approach versus a conventional approach to design is a commitment to refrain from latching on to a solution too early in the process. Why would solving a problem quickly be a negative thing? Because it cuts off other possibilities, opportunities for synergistic solutions, and the benefit of using feedback (both research and people’s opinions and knowledge) to evolve the design.

Rufus_018 Clearing Up the Confusion
Many people say that they are using IP, but few really are. Charrettes are a good idea, and as shown in the photo for Vulcan's Amazon South Lake Union Development, we start every project with some variant of a charrette. Conducting a single kick-off charrette is not IP, however. IP is a rigorous and iterative process, requiring a road map for the project team to follow. The road map includes a series of all-team meetings interjected with smaller meetings focused around specific topics. Creative, holistic solutions spring forth from a repetitive process of everyone coming together to set goals, then dispersing to conduct research, analysis and design development, and then coming back together to report progress to the entire team, revisit the goals, and collectively advance the design. This road map is outlined in the IP Standard version 2.0.

Another point of confusion is in the name itself. The Integrative Process is often confused with AIA’s Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). IPD is a contractual agreement among the owner, designer, and contractor where all parties share the risks and benefits of a development project. Using the IP to steer Integrated Project Delivery is a natural fit. Just remember IP is the process and IPD is the contract.

One more pesky issue in the naming convention, Integrative and Integrated Design Process are used interchangeably. Which one is right? IP is an active, iterative, and ongoing process; our work is never done. Since integrative process is "present" tense, Bill Reed would say it is the appropriate descriptor.

Assuming IP version 2.0 is adopted as the new ANSI Standard, how will IP be used? There are several “vehicles” that could drive its use. One way is by dovetailing the IP Standard with the LEED certification process. This marriage is already underway. The next version of LEED, currently called LEED 2012, includes a credit taken from the Appendix of the IP Standard version 2.0 and cites the Standard as the reference document. Another possible vehicle for wider application of IP is through the General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA is currently considering referencing the IP Standard version 2.0 as a guideline for project development practices. The other major vehicle of change is of course, education. The IP Education Subcommittee is developing a roll out plan for instruction on IP throughout the country.

One challenge to fitting IP into an ANSI Standard is that it has to be generic and based on the minimum concrete actions that everyone can take. IP naturally demands one builds on that minimum in a way that directly reflects the project, the people, and the place. This is where YOU come in. For IP to gain traction, we all must earnestly practice it and share our successes and lessons learned with the industry.

Nora Daley-Peng, ASLA, AICP, CSBA, and LEED BD+C is Senior Project Associate with O'Brien & Company, providing project management to green building consulting and planning projects at the firm. She is a regular contributor to the Building Capacity Blog.

Did you enjoy this article?  You might also like these Building Capacity Blog articles: 
Why Must We Reinvent the Wheel When Conducting Collaborative Change Projects?
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3 Responses to “Clarifying the Integrative Design Process: ANSI Standard gets an overhaul with IP Version 2.0”

  1. NEXUS_Green

    Kathleen, this is fantastic news. It seems like the major changes aren’t about content but about communication and clarity. I see this as key as I get many questions (and am at times confused myself) at the ID vs IPD distinction.
    We are also working with the GSA to integrate the Green Firm Certification into RFP’s. Similar to LEED, Certification recognizes other initiatives such as LEED, IP version 2.0, EnergyStar, etc but rather than evaluating a project it evaluates the firm’s capability to deliver sustainability services. This seems right up your alley, so I encourage you to at least watch a short video about Certification here:

  2. Kathleen

    To readers, please note that a glitch in the electronic ether indicated that we were providing a direct link to the draft update of the ANSI IP Standard. We have remedied that. The ballot version is ONLY available to ANSI members. If you ARE an ANSI member and have questions about the draft or access to the draft, please direct your questions to ANSI directly.

  3. Kathleen

    CORRECTION: The ballot is available to non-ANSI Members. One vote per company, as well as individuals may vote. Please find the ballot at: Also, please submit your completed ballot (scan and email) to Mike Italiano at

Comments are closed.