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Owner-Defined "Target Value" Drives Lean Building Design




September 11, 2017 - Design & Construction

Imagine a building design, engineering, and construction team that bases all of its decisions — from day one — on delivering owner-defined value in form, function, and cost. This is the “lean” premise of Target Value Design (TVD), a strategy and process that drive design from the inception of a project to deliver maximize customer value within project constraints.

According to the Lean Enterprise Institute, “The core idea [of lean] is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.” Who defines value? The end customer.

In TVD-driven building design, engineering, and construction, owner-defined value is not the same as conventional requirements and specifications to deliver a project that is “on time and on budget” — basic objectives of any project. And it is not the same as value engineering, in which a project is re-designed in an effort to deliver similar value for a lower cost — at the expense of design flexibility and time. Instead, design concepts, associated specs, and target costs are developed from the inception of a TVD project based on unique owner-defined value.

The TVD project management team asks the owner to define the important business and project objectives. For example, is an owner trying to attain a certain aesthetic? Gain a competitive advantage in the commercial real estate market? Reduce operational and maintenance costs with a high-performance, energy-efficient building? Or attain other objectives? The owner is also asked to identify the metrics that will be used to measure project value.

The TVD process has several defined steps:

  1. Business planning: Define the desired scope, operation, and quality of the end product based on owner-defined value.
  2. Validation: Build a cost model of a hypothetical set of building systems.
  3. Target setting: Set the stretch goal based on owner-defined value.
  4. Design to system-specific targets: Push innovation and added value in the development and execution of the project’s structural, building envelope, area development, environmental assessment, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The owner creates a framework for the design and construction teams to deliver the design documents and construction of the building to meet the team’s intended targets, including performance, aesthetics, schedule, and cost.

The success of TVD depends on the commitment of the professionals who are involved in the process. The owner must be engaged with the senior project management team and transparent about objectives and metrics. Project management team leaders must make the owner’s targets clear to the design team and lead an integrated process (whether or not an integrated project delivery contract governs the project) in which all members contribute their expertise to push innovation and add value. Leaders must also know how to manage an extended team including other professionals — for example, subcontractors and building O&M staff — to gain the benefits of their contributions to value-based decision-making.

Overall, TVD utilizes the strength of the team by integrating the key players and providing the framework for innovative ideas to be evaluated and implemented.

Sarah Kuchera, P.E., LEED AP, is a senior vice president and managing director of WSP USA’s California buildings practice in the firm’s San Francisco office. An electrical engineer, Kuchera has served as a project manager, production coordinator and project designer on buildings ranging from mission critical data centers and hospital facilities to commercial retail.

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