According to the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), integrated planning is a basic requirement for sustainable construction. Like an artistic gymnast, it practices the balancing act between maximum conservation of resources and reduction of emissions on the one hand and the optimization of profit and comfort of a company on the other. 

Everything is connected to everything

Clothes make the man and modern facades today often reflect the self-image of companies. And like the clothing industry, for example, architecture is also subject to the trends of the times. Whereas in the 1970s the steel and glass temples of large companies in all industries sprang up without regard for energy efficiency, today the showcase lies in highly technologized details that are not necessarily visible at first glance.

But in contrast to purely aesthetic elements, they must be demonstrably present, for example, in the construction of office and administrative buildings according to the Assessment System for Sustainable Building (BNB). And because everything is always connected to everything else, this results in an interaction with all the other criteria of the system.

A lifetime under observation

Nowadays, the construction of complex industrial or administrative buildings resembles the logistical challenge once faced when Munich Airport was relocated. This is because integrated planning begins with the mental development of the project on the drawing board, then spans the complete life cycle of the facility, and ends only after the environmentally compatible recycling or disposal of its individual parts following their demolition or dismantling. From the beginning to the end of such a life cycle, the individual components remain manageable in their dependency, so that processes can be optimized simultaneously as well as iteratively. If disruptions occur, they could be eliminated before the domino effect can have a large-scale impact on other areas. 

If necessary, everyone talks to everyone

However, to ensure that in the end not only the energy balance and economic efficiency meet modern requirements, but that the system can also be accepted by its users, networked and transparent cooperation is required between all those involved, from the architects to the building services. One key to integrated planning is therefore good, cross-interface communication. 

Integrated planning as an inner conviction

However, according to Professor Christoph M. Achammer, integral planning is not a performance profile that can be called up at the push of a button according to traditional procedures. Rather, the CEO of the ATP association sees integral planning as an attitude that must be lived. According to Achammer, integral planning is 

“a culture that has been practiced across disciplines and in mutual understanding over a long time in our offices and that our employees* live with enthusiasm.”

According to ATP, the corresponding seal of approval stands 

“for the mature integral planning process in which the traditional demarcation between the individual disciplines is almost completely dissolved.”

There is enough room for improvement

The importance of networking all those involved in major construction projects is shown by the PWC 2021 study on how the construction industry is dealing with digitalization, sustainability and the Corona pandemic. The study shows that planners are more affected by the Covid 19 crisis than construction companies. Still, nine out of 10 respondents said they were struggling with supply chain issues as well as raw material availability. At the same time, about 75% of respondents note difficulties in moving to more digital collaboration. After all, almost all contractors and planners agree that digitization of processes will increase and help solve infrastructural problems. However, when looking at their own competencies in the digital area, only just under half of the planners and only about one-third of the contractors see themselves as being well positioned. 

Fear of cybercrime blocks digital expansion

According to the PWC survey, the reason for this is seen on the one hand in the inadequate technical qualifications of employees and the generally lamented shortage of skilled workers. On the other hand, the fear of cybercrime is also prevalent in the construction industry. With Magility Cyber Security GmbH, we therefore offer customized solutions to ensure the cyber security of companies and public institutions.

The EU also relies on integrated planning

According to the Vienna University of Technology, the European Union also sees interdisciplinary, integrated planning as the right way to achieve a sustainable building industry. However, it criticizes those responsible for construction for their hesitancy to increasingly include so-called “green buildings” in the planning process, because they cause higher costs. These higher costs of around two percent would be offset by savings in lifecycle costs of around 40 percent.

More complex requirements need more time 

With the more complex requirements for energy-efficient construction and networked collaboration, the time required for integrated planning is also increasing. According to the report by the Vienna University of Technology, however, the services required for this are only partially included in the freely negotiable services in the fee regulations of Austria and Germany. Architects must therefore provide a large part of the complex additional services as part of their regular contract. The professional communication between all parties involved, which is elementary for the success of an integrally planned building project, is not taken into account at all. 

Integrated planning is not a pro bono project

Ultimately, this means for the planners that they are currently stuck with the costly additional services that do not require remuneration. Integrated planning is thus almost degraded to the private pleasure of planners. In view of the ambitious climate targets of the European Union, this should perhaps be reconsidered and the so-called cascade principle of the Fee Ordinance adapted accordingly. 

This would avoid unpleasant surprises in the form of significantly exceeded budgets in the final billing of projects, and no one would have to be surprised if planned costs are often exceeded many times over in the end.

Magility is an expert in consulting both companies and public institutions for sustainable construction and integrated planning. Feel free to contact us!