Integrated Design Process

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The Real Property Branch (RPB) as a custodian of real property assets and a provider of accommodation to federal departments, is adopting the use of an Integrated Design Process (IDP), in principle, for every project, and in particular, for any new construction involving a major fit-up or renovation. In so doing, RPB will strive to achieve an efficient, cost effective and environmentally responsible approach to designing and constructing projects that meet Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) objectives. At the same time as sustainable buildings realize high environmental performance in a cost effective manner, they will also contribute to sustainable communities and to achieving several principles outlined in the Code of Environmental Stewardship for the Government of Canada.

IDP provides a holistic approach to the design of a building, as compared to the conventional design process where an architect and client agree on a design concept (based on a functional program), and the structural, mechanical and electrical engineers are then asked to implement the design and to suggest appropriate systems. IDP involves a synergy of team skills throughout the design, includes energy conservation measures (simulated by an energy consultant) and leads to a high level of system integration, to effectively minimize costs and meet agreed performance targets.

There is a need to recognize, formalize and promulgate the RPB commitment to utilize IDP as standard practice within the National Project Management System (NPMS). The intent of this document is to demonstrate the economic, social and environmental benefits to the Canadian taxpayer of IDP and the complementary use of building performance assessment tools, and thus to incorporate environmentally responsible decision-making into RPB operations, management, and daily activities over the life-cycle of a project.

The emergence in the design community of a 'Sustainable (Green) Building' concept has shifted the emphasis from investments in improved technologies to achieving high environmental performance buildings through better thinking to deliver the benefits, rather than investing capital money in equipment. The result is a design methodology that is focused on a simple collaborative process involving the input of all the team members commencing early in the project identification phase, and requiring the participation and commitment to the process of both the tenant group and the owner investor.

From a PSPC perspective, IDP merges the traditional NPMS to the environmental, social (i.e.: heritage conservation) and economic impacts of a building project in a sustainable way. This result is a direct benefit to PSPC achieving at least one of its Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) targets namely improving environmental performance with regard to energy use and reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions to meet the Kyoto Protocol commitment.

This document applies to all services and activities delivered by RPB projects in PSPC. It does not apply to real property under the administration of Crown corporations or other custodial departments. However, where RPB provides services to other custodians, it will promote and recommend the use of the principles and objectives of this document. The IDP process and related procedures provide for a more cohesive, cost effective approach to support sustainable design and the operation of our buildings, whether new or renovated, in order to meet our SDS objectives. Among other benefits, this will lead to a demonstrated commitment of sustainable practice in support of our SDS objectives.

The following tools and techniques have been developed to assist RPB project teams in measuring their success towards achieving a 'Sustainable Building' by outlining some of the various 'whole building' assessment tools available in the marketplace (see "Whole Building Assessment Systems")

Whole Building Assessment Systems

This document provides a more detailed overview of the two whole building assessment systems in commercial use, and used by PSPC.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™

LEED™ Canada-NC 1.0 has been developed as an Application Guide under the rules and conditions prescribed in the US Green Building Council's (USGBC's) Foundations of Product Development and Market Transformation - An Operational Manual (Draft) (Winter 2001, LEED Steering Committee, US Green Building Council, Washington, DC)

An Application Guide is a combination of the LEED™ rating criteria (modified to address specific concerns) and the LEED™ Reference Guide. Application Guides are created to work within the existing structure of the LEED™ rating system. They are intended to strengthen LEED™, while tailoring existing prerequisites and credits for regional or functional needs.

USGBC recommends that only organizations with large construction portfolios should deal with adaptation, or customization, through the creation of an Application Guide. That recommendation does not apply in the case of LEED™ Canada-NC 1.0, a unique case in that it is the first national adaptation of LEED™. It must therefore parallel the base US version of LEED™, covering all of Canada and serving a wide variety of stakeholders, some of which may eventually pursue further adaptations to meet specific needs. Indeed, this has already been done in British Columbia.

LEED™ Canada-NC 1.0 serves three distinct roles by providing:

LEED™ Canada-NC 1.0 is based on LEED™ 2.1, the current version of the USGBC LEED™ rating system. The USGBC states that LEED™ 2.1 is specifically applicable to new designs and retrofits of:

Additional information on LEED™ Canada NC-1.0 can be found on the Canada Green Buildings Council Web site.

It is expected that LEED™ 2.1 will be in place until 2005, with periodic amendments and refinements released as 2.x versions. As well, USGBC expects to develop and release versions of LEED™ that deal with other types of buildings (for example, LEED™ residential for single family homes), specific building situations (for example, versions dealing separately with 'core and shell' and 'commercial interior' projects), and operations and maintenance of existing buildings. In fact, LEED™ EB (Existing Buildings) is currently being pilot tested and may be released later this year.

As new versions/variations of LEED™ are released, LEED™ Canada-NC 1.0 will presumably be updated to reflect the significance of these to Canadian applicants.

LEED™ 2.1 is a self-assessment system, the results of which are submitted for independent certification by the USGBC. It consists of an explicit set of environmental performance criteria, organized within the following five performance categories:

  1. Sustainable sites
  2. Water Efficiency
  3. Energy and Atmosphere
  4. Materials and Resources
  5. Indoor Environmental Quality

A sixth category: Innovation Credits and Design/Build Process, rewards exceptional environmental performance or innovation. The system uses prerequisite performance requirements and credits in the various categories to define the scope of the environmental issues and provide the basis for scoring performance. The system also makes explicit reference to a number of environmental standards.

The LEED™ documentation includes submission requirements for each prerequisite and credit (Submittals), a summary of applicable standards referenced in the prerequisites and credits, a description of the environmental, community and environmental benefits of meeting the respective LEED™ credits, and a description of the design strategies and techniques to achieve high performance within a specific credit. The LEED™ Reference Guide (LEED™ Green Building System Version 2, Reference Guide, June 2001) is an important compliment to the LEED™ Rating System and adds several elements that assist users in interpreting prerequisites or credits. The Reference Guide supports an applicant in fulfilling the requirements of specific criteria, and steers the applicant through the application and documentation process.

The prerequisites and credits in LEED™ Canada-NC 1.0 are considered to be "Core" requirements and there are specific and strict rules regarding any amendments or additions to them. Prerequisite performance requirements are especially critical because they must be met irrespective of other features. Although additional prerequisites can be added or aspects of the credits can be designated as prerequisites in a specific Application Guide, existing LEED™ Canada-NC 1.0 prerequisites are required for all projects applying for LEED™ certification. Credits are the fundamental units for describing performance requirements within LEED™.

A credit can consist of several sub-credits, and each credit (and sub-credit) carries an assigned number of points. The number of credits and points available in each performance category are shown below:

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™ Canada-NC 1.0 Performance Categories and Available Credits

Performance Category

The total number of points earned is aggregated and a final designation of the building based on the threshold reached, as shown below:

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™ Canada-NC 1.0 Certification Thresholds

Total Possible Credits = 65 + 5 innovation points

Different agencies adopting LEED™ typically specify that buildings within their jurisdiction attain a specific level of certification, for example, LEED™ Certified Silver. PSPC has committed to strive for Silver as a minimum and based on our SDS, will seek higher levels of certification where economically viable, on a case by case basis.

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method Green Leaf and Green Globes

A BREEAM Green Leaf assessment covers the following building types:

For the design of new or fully renovated buildings, the system provides an integrated framework to address similar issues to LEED™ 2.1, but is more comprehensive in terms of the details. BREEAM Green Leaf is divided into 7 performance categories, compared to the five in LEED™, but without a separate innovation category. The scope of coverage within the seven categories is also broader than in LEED™ as indicated below:

The method uses questionnaires to guide the project team in each stage of the project delivery process, from the establishment of design objectives through site selection, programming requirements, to schematic design, the preparation of construction documents and specifications, and finally construction and commissioning. Although a design team is urged to use the protocol at all stages, the actual quantifiable assessment for the design occurs only at two stages, concept design and the preparation of construction documents and specifications.

BREEAM Green Leaf makes reference to a number of standards rather than directly including benchmarks within the criteria descriptions. As with LEED™, this gives the advantage of maintaining currency without having to update the specific wording of the credit requirements.

Points are the fundamental unit for describing performance requirements, with the rating generated by adding the points awarded for meeting design performance and prescriptive criteria. Out of a total of 1,000 points, the section "weightings" are as follows:

The benchmarks for different BREEAM Green Leaf ratings are shown below. Different agencies using BREEAM Green Leaf may choose to specify that buildings within their jurisdiction attain a specific rating level.

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method Green Leaf™ Designation and Required Number of Points

Additional information and details on BREEAM Green Leaf and Green Globes, can be found on the ECD Energy & Environment Canada Ltd. Web site.

Like LEED™, BREEAM Green Leaf operates at a national level without a direct means of adjusting for regional concerns or issues. There are plans to incorporate a method of adjusting credits to take account of regional factors, but at this point the system would have to be specifically harmonized with regional LEED™ application guides. There is an additional benefit from using BREEAM Green Leaf as a complement to LEED™: promoting a fully integrated approach to the design process, especially the early stages of design. It is no exaggeration to say that 90% of the design decisions are made in the first 10% of the design process. While LEED™ can inform the design process, and is often used in that way, BREEAM Green Leaf puts greater emphasis on the stages of integrated design. It can therefore help prevent the situation whereby design teams adopt a "green" philosophy or objective too late in the design process to influence critical site development, envelope, and building system choices. It may also be somewhat easier to use during the design process because of its structure and the fact it is in a spreadsheet form.

Integrated Design Procedures


An IDP is characterized by a series of design loops per stage of the process, separated by transitions with decisions about milestones, and with relevant team members participating in each loop. The design process for IDP emphasizes the following sequence.

The IDP concept is simple to understand because it is not new and is easy to apply to existing PSPC project delivery systems. Furthermore, by employing this strategy, sustainable buildings in many cases can be constructed at the same or lower cost than a conventional or base building. The real value of using the IDP is optimized when life cycle building costs (capital as well as Operational and Maintenance (O&M) costs) are considered in terms of net present value to rationalize sustainable building choices.

Integrated Design Process


Integrated Design Process (IDP)Footnote 1

is a method for realizing high performance buildings that contribute to sustainable communities. It is a collaborative process that:

  • focuses on the design, construction, operation and occupancy of a building over its complete life-cycle.
  • is designed to allow the client and other stakeholders to develop and realize clearly defined and challenging functional, environmental and economic goals and objectives
  • includes a multi-disciplinary design team that includes or acquires the skills required to address all design issues flowing from the objectives
  • proceeds from whole building system strategies working through increasing levels of specificity so as to realize more optimally integrated solutions.


IDP contains no elements that are radically new, but it integrates well-proven approaches into a systematic total (or holistic) process. Second, design teams have experienced IDP in two ways: as a relatively informal process whereby discipline experts brought together will contribute to the development and execution of a design to explore and evolve an appropriate approach, or; as a formal system with a defined set of process steps. It is the latter system process that is outlined herein.

The Formal Integrated Design ProcessFootnote 2

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) through the C2000 energy program has developed a formal 86-step ID Process checklist, that follows the outline of a typical project delivery system. It can be applied to new, major renovation or existing building projects.

Primary Characteristics of the process are:

Integrated (or "Whole Building") Performance Assessment Tools

A very important aspect of IDP is the concept of measuring high levels of performance in a building to achieve sustainable design. The IDP team does this by considering six fundamental strategies:

In Canada, the best known third party assessment tools are LEEDFootnote 5 and Green GlobesFootnote 6. Both consider these six strategies by using a mix of objective and subjective inputs to distill the information and provide overall scores based on weighting systems. Reference is made to Appendix A for a more detailed overview of these two whole building assessment systems. Also, there is move to establish a LEED™ Canada version, which is currently under development.

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