People are the key difference between mediocre and innovative infrastructure projects. Sustainable infrastructure design requires more than simply assessing a project against a sustainability scorecard or rating system. As a practice, sustainable design begins with people and their dynamics as a collaborative team. Decades of green building performance have taught us that optimized building design is only possible though an integrated process. Today, as infrastructure owners grapple with public perception, enhanced performance requirements, lifecycle impacts, and more, these lessons are more important than ever before, and should be leveraged by infrastructure designers. Due to the complex and diverse nature of infrastructure projects, traditional design approaches and delivery models make it challenging to fully realize the benefits of sustainable design. To successfully implement sustainable practices, design teams must employ innovative strategies through leveraging tools such as integrated design process, collaborative decision making, and sustainable design frameworks. Using “charrettes” to bring the broad team together for focused design and decision-making workshops is an important part of this process. Involving a construction manager early is also key to this approach, enabling integration of contracting and constructability knowledge into early planning and design. By examining a real project example, this paper will explore the benefits of taking an integrated design approach, involving a multidisciplinary collaborative team who work and make decisions together based on a shared vision and holistic project understanding. We find this approach leads to higher performance across a wide-variety of well-defined environmental and social goals, while staying within budgetary and scheduling constraints.


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