Project Management Pitfalls in Energy Efficient Design
How can project managers avoid the top pitfalls of energy-efficient design in construction? It may be easier than it sounds, and it is definitely worth going the extra mile. Project management is often a challenging task in construction, and prioritizing energy efficiency can create some extra elements to consider.
In green design, energy efficiency is an absolute must, especially when meeting sustainability benchmarks is a key objective. Being aware of these top pitfalls in energy-efficient design can help ensure the construction process goes as smoothly as possible.
Many project managers are familiar with “scope creep,” which is when a project slowly gets more and more complex through continual client requests and design changes. Scope creep can cripple a construction project by creating one delay after another and driving up costs. Setting clear objectives from the start is the surest way to ensure issues like this do not come up.
With green design, it is better to be on the same page with clients about every sustainability objective they want to achieve from day one. This is especially important when energy efficiency is a top priority. The groundwork for creating that efficiency will be embedded throughout the building design, making scope creep a serious issue if stakeholders request design changes after construction has begun.
Establish exactly what objectives are most important for the project and how everyone will contribute to meeting them, which will lead to the next stage: detailed planning.
Lack of Planning
Comprehensive planning is absolutely essential for green building design. Creating a building that is designed for sustainability is not as simple as swapping out one power source for another. Green design affects the entire structure at every stage of the project. Stakeholders may want sustainable materials and power sources to be used on the construction site, for example. These need to be budgeted for, sourced, and scheduled in advance.
A good planning strategy for green design is using a whole-building approach. This tactic offers the best chance of making sure every detail is covered, rather than focusing only on specific sustainability details. The whole-building approach examines how every component of the project works together, which can help spot inefficiencies and potential problems.
Good communication is vital to project success, especially when meeting green design standards. When communication falls apart, the negative side effects trickle down the chain of command, impacting every project area. For energy efficiency to be accomplished, good communication practices must be established. This should go beyond simply having more constructive meetings, as well. Project managers will need to find a way to keep everyone in the loop about any design changes, project objectives, or important tasks.
Using technology can make a big difference. Even if the planning and management teams do not have the resources to create CAD designs from scratch, getting drawings generated online is typically quick and easy. Digital designs are well worth the effort to create since they are significantly easier to share between members of the planning team. This can revolutionize communication in the design and planning processes.
Engaged clients and stakeholders can be extremely helpful in construction since they are often more clear about what they want from the project and more interested in the process. However, sometimes clients and project leadership can have expectations for the project that are simply not feasible. Examples include requests for major design changes after construction has started, or setting deadlines that are unlikely to be met. Expectations like this can lead to poor morale and setbacks that detract from the overall efficiency of the project.
One thing that is important to remember in energy-efficient design is that efficiency extends to many aspects of the project, all of which are interconnected. Sorting out unrealistic expectations makes inefficient use of valuable time and materials, especially if something needs to be rebuilt or reworked on-site.
This is part of why effective communication and clear objectives are so important early in the process. If everyone understands, for example, that the walls need to be a certain thickness for the sustainable insulation inside, requests to change that design aspect are less likely to occur. Project managers should be upfront with stakeholders when a certain request or expectation is unreasonable, since establishing an achievable goal will be more helpful for everyone involved.
Putting the Efficiency in Energy Efficient Project Management
Creating energy-efficient buildings is becoming a greater priority for clients and construction companies around the world. Not only is it better for the environment, but it is also a great way to save money. Being aware of these pitfalls and how to resolve them will help project managers achieve energy efficiency on every project, from design to completion.