Chapter 5.5
Sustainable, Regenerative, and Resilient Design, Integrated Design Process and Integrated Project Delivery: Synthesis of Concepts, Principles and Practice


Driven by environmental, economic and lifestyle factors, expectations of the performance of buildings and sites have expanded to include not only a high level of energy performance, but a host of criteria that reflect society’s changing values towards the environment and the physical realities of human-driven climate change. As expectations of the final outcomes of capital projects have increased, so have the demands for architects and their design teams to innovate both the product and process of design and delivery. Sustainable development, regenerative design, integral sustainable design, resilient design, integrated design process and integrated project delivery are terms that have become common in the architect’s lexicon.

There is a growing body of knowledge about these concepts, principles and processes. This body of knowledge is not restricted to architecture or architectural practice but spans multiple disciplines. Indeed, some may suggest that by the very nature of integrated systems thinking, foundational to all these concepts, the body of knowledge spans all disciplines. As a document focused more on how to practise architecture than on how to design, the CHOP provides a discussion of the interrelationships between these concepts, principles and processes. It does not provide a comprehensive analysis, instructions for application, or checklists specific to these ideas.


The definition of sustainable development that has been widely accepted is taken from the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future, prepared by the Brundtland Commission for the United Nations General Assembly and commonly referred to as the Brundtland Report:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
– Brundtland Commission, 1987

The pursuit of sustainability as a goal in development has been eclipsed by concerns that sustainability of the current environment alone is insufficient in addressing the challenges brought on by accelerating climate change, population growth and resource constraints. Where sustainable development is concerned with meeting the levels of fundamental human needs without compromising future opportunities and access to resources, regenerative development seeks to restore natural systems and renew sources of materials, energy, habitats and ecosystems. To quote Bill Reed and Pamela Mang from their article “Regenerative Development and Design” in the Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology:

“The emerging field of regenerative development and design marks a significant evolution in the concept and application of sustainability. Practices in sustainable or green design have focused primarily on minimizing damage to the environment and human health, and using resources more efficiently, in effect, slowing down the degradation of earth’s natural systems. Advocates of a regenerative approach to the built environment believe that a much more deeply integrated, whole-systems approach to the design and construction of buildings and human settlements (and nearly all other human activities) is needed. Regenerative approaches seek not only to reverse the degeneration of the earth’s natural systems but also to design human systems that can co-evolve with natural systems – evolve in a way that generates mutual benefits and greater overall expression of life and resilience.”

In the context of buildings, where sustainable development may look at cradle-to-grave life cycles, regenerative design looks at cradle-to-cradle opportunities.

Concepts of regeneration are underpinning evolutionary and revolutionary changes, from restorative justice to permaculture to building and site design. There is not a single working definition of regenerative development that applies in all contexts; however, applicable principles for regenerative design include:

  • integrated whole systems thinking that explores the connections, interrelationships, and impacts between systems, even seemingly unrelated human, natural, and technological systems;
  • self-feeding and self-regenerating processes;
  • synthesis of human and built environments with natural systems.

Another emerging concept in design and development of the built environment is resilience. Resilience is defined as:

“. . . the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance. It is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption.”
– “What Is Resilience?” Resilient Design Institute, 2012

The increase in severe weather events, coupled with planning solutions of the past driven by sub-optimization for greatest financial gain, has resulted in an increase in property damage, destruction of the natural environment and human loss. The Resilient Design Institute lists the 10 principles of resilient design:

  1. Resilience transcends scales.
  2. Resilient systems provide for basic human needs.
  3. Diverse and redundant systems are inherently more resilient.
  4. Simple, passive, and flexible systems are more resilient.
  5. Durability strengthens resilience.
  6. Locally available, renewable, or reclaimed resources are more resilient.
  7. Resilience anticipates interruptions and a dynamic future.
  8. Find and promote resilience in nature.
  9. Social equity and community contribute to resilience.
  10. Resilience is not absolute.

Sustainability, regeneration and resilience introduce overlays of design considerations onto the traditional requirements of the human experience of space and form, light, functionality, constructability and aesthetics. Concurrent with these considerations is the drive for a built environment that is accessible to all, regardless of the low-end thresholds of a building code or the nature or capability of any individual.

Collaboration of Project Stakeholders

In their book The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building, 7 Group and Bill Reed recount a story of how the selection of paint colours for a space, more specifically the reflective value of the paint, had far-reaching impacts on function and illumination with a reduced number of light fixtures, leading to reduced power requirements, reduced demand loads of the HVAC systems, and overall capital cost reduction as a result of right-sizing all building systems (19-22). This was achieved by all team members challenging assumptions at every step, exhaustive information gathering and analysis, and identifying all possible interrelationships of systems.

Foundational to sustainable, regenerative and resilient development is the collaboration of all project stakeholders in a positive working environment. Pivotal to success is the project owner’s full engagement with decision-makers of each key stakeholder group: architect, engineers, specialist consultants, building users, constructors and trades. The glue that holds the integrative process together is the owner’s dedication to participating in identifying, analyzing and documenting all project requirements and interrelationships of systems, and committing to provide the needed financial resources.

Notwithstanding the collaborative process, the capacity of a building to contribute to a sustainable or regenerative environment is present only at the completion of construction. Actual sustainability or regeneration depends on the activities of the owner and occupants to operate and manage systems, and maintain the building.

See Chapter 5.2 – Stakeholder Management for a discussion of stakeholders and their role in projects.

Innovative Design Processes and Project Delivery Methods

The creation of high performing teams does not happen by accident or by putting people in a room and saying, “You’re all professionals. Work it out.” Neither is collaboration a natural resting state for stakeholders who are often concerned with their own objectives and profitability, and with getting as much as possible for the least financial investment. Team building and collaboration require an investment of resources and time to teach/learn new attitudes, adopt different perspectives and grow empathy. In addition to working with individuals to create a high-performing team, organizational structures (see Chapter 4.1 – Types of Design-Construction Program Delivery), communications systems (see Chapter 5.3 – Communications Management), and management processes (see Chapter 5.1 – Management of the Design Project) need to be in place to create the infrastructure for team cohesion and decision-making. The integrated design process (IDP) and the integrated project delivery method (IPD) are two management structures that support the work of collaborative, high-performing teams.

Although the integrated design process (IDP) and the integrated project delivery method (IPD) have been developing over the past several decades, they bring innovation to traditional design methodologies and project organizational structures. These two different but harmonious approaches are developed to build collaborative processes and managerial and contractual systems that would enable the disparate stakeholders of the design and construction industry to work together to realize sustainable, regenerative and resilient environments.

Integrated Design Process (IDP)

The integrated design process (IDP), based on whole systems thinking, is a method of collaborative inquiry intended to explore and uncover relationships and interrelationships between human, natural and technological elements and systems. Whole systems thinking is:

“. . . a method to understand how things (elements and systems) are related, and how they influence one another within a whole. An example of systems thinking is how elements like water, sun, soil, air, plants, animals and human beings interact and support one another as a system.”
– University of British Columbia, Sustainability Office

Organizational theorist Russell Ackoff described the problem of exploring the relationships between elements and systems:

“English does not contain a word for ‘systems of problems.’ Therefore, I have had to coin one. I choose to call such a system a ‘mess.’ The solution to a mess can seldom be obtained by independently solving each of the problems of which it is composed” (22).

The integrated design process provides a systematic framework that supports whole systems thinking in the search for design solutions. IDP describes a high-level process approach to optimize stakeholder engagement in design projects. It is based on the principle that all stakeholders’ interests must be exhaustively explored, documented and analyzed in order to realize an optimal design outcome that satisfies all stakeholders’ needs. Although architects often equate “stakeholders” with building users, stakeholders in this context include others who have an impact on or are impacted by project outcomes.

Intensive facilitation, interpersonal skills, owner engagement, design leadership, and influence rather than authority are key to integrated design process success. It does not define project outcomes but is a process to uncover project expectations, limitations and constraints, and, from those, establish goals.

The integrated design process requires considerable up-front consulting work in the pre-design phase of the project, leading to a redistribution of effort across the design project’s life cycle. The exhaustive exploration during pre-design means that design decision-making is substantially reduced during the construction documentation phase.

The integrated design process is best implemented when all key project stakeholders are engaged in integrated design problem exploration. The constructor’s knowledge provided during design may change the nature of documentation required to communicate the design intent and modify constructability review processes. However, a project delivery method such as design-bid-build may not be structured to allow the construction forces to participate, as the constructor would not be retained until after construction documentation and tendering phases are complete.

The integrated design process (IDP) can be applied to any project delivery method; however, some methods, such as integrated project delivery (IPD), are more suited to this approach.

See the reference list in this chapter for sources containing more detailed information about the IDP.

Integrated Project Delivery Method (IPD)

The integrated project delivery method (IPD) is a contractual and managerial framework designed to foster collaboration. At a contractual level, this is achieved using a multi-party contract. Unlike traditional project delivery methods where contractual relationships between the many parties are established through many individual contracts, i.e., the client-architect agreement, the architect-consultant agreements, the client-contractor agreement, and the contractor-trades agreements, the IPD contract binds all parties – client, architect, engineers, specialist consultants, contractor, and major trades – in a single contract with profit shared among all parties using a formula established at the project outset. The collaboration should result in optimization of the design to achieve the client’s requirements. The client receives a share of the risk pool in cost savings and the other parties receive a pre-determined fraction of the risk pool as profit. Risk is owned by the party in the best position to manage that specific uncertainty.

The integrated project delivery method form of collaboration requires that a consensus-based management structure of multiple all-party committees be established to organize, plan, design, construct and commission the facility. The project’s organizational structure is hierarchical in that planning and implementation committees report to an oversight committee. Each committee is composed of decision-making representatives from each of the parties.          

The integrated design process (IDP) and integrated project delivery method (IPD) are neither mutually inclusive nor mutually exclusive. They are two distinctly different processes, but each in its own way can increase the probability of success in achieving high-performance outcomes. Applied together, these two frameworks should support a cohesive and comprehensive methodology for delivering capital projects to high levels of sustainable, regenerative and resilient performance.

Sustainable, Regenerative and Resilient Design Criteria

In this approach, measurable goals of sustainability and regenerative design need to be established for each project, using collaborative approaches to engage key stakeholders, including owner/client, user-stakeholders, the design team and the construction team (depending on the procurement approach). Goals may be established that also align with targets of a certifying agency; however, individual project goals may go beyond those measures.

At the beginning of the project, the scope of the endeavour may not be established. The exploration and detailed analysis of the business case for the project is expected to uncover both stated and unstated client and stakeholder requirements. This is the beginning of the integrated design process (IDP). At the outset, client and stakeholder requirements may be conflicting or even mutually exclusive. The exploration and analysis process may uncover misunderstandings between the various stakeholders about what sustainable, regenerative and resilient mean. Sustainable or regenerative projects often engage the owner with features having operational characteristics that otherwise would have been purchased from outside the project boundaries. On-site electricity generation is one obvious example. On-site sewage treatment would be another. In these and analogous cases, the project scope is expanded beyond that of conventional projects. Architects may have a role to play in the delivery of those new services.

The concepts upon which the principles of sustainable and regenerative design are built are numerous, finding common ground in the integration of social goals with the natural environment. When seeking to achieve a measurable level of sustainable and regenerative development, the client needs to decide that the project is intended to achieve established targets published by a certifying organization, such as Green Building Certifications Inc. Canada (GBCI Canada), and will seek validation of achievement, such as certification under the LEED, WELL, or Green Globes assessment systems.

The criteria published by certifying agencies represent goals of design, construction and operation, but do not describe how the goals are to be achieved. That is the challenge for the client, designers, constructors and operators.

Sources of information on collaborative approaches to design are included in the references section below.

Sustainability, Regeneration, Resilience, Integrated Design Process and Integrated Project Delivery: A Synthesis of Concepts, Principles and Practice

Sustainable, regenerative and resilient development are principles of design, development and operation identifying desirable project outcomes. Specific goals must be established for each individual project based on stakeholder requirements. Targets for sustainable and regenerative development are published by certifying agencies and may be incorporated into project requirements. Ultimately, how a firm approaches designing for sustainable, regenerative and resilient targets, and how it applies a collaborative approach to achieve those targets, rest with the development of a firm-driven and -owned methodology. Although adopting the targets of a certifying agency may provide a clearer ability to measure outcomes, the processes of interaction and facilitation and influencing others are derived from the firm’s culture, philosophy, expertise and capabilities. In short, the firm must develop a core competency of collaborative skills and expert knowledge of integrated systems design to achieve competitive advantage.


7group and Bill Reed. The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building: Redefining the Practice of Sustainability. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Ackoff, Russell L. “Systems, Messes and Interactive Planning” from Redesigning the Future: A Systems Approach to Societal Problems. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1974.

Allison, Markku, et al. Integrated Project Delivery: An Action Guide for Leaders. Integrated Project Delivery Alliance (IPDA), Center for Innovation in the Design and Construction Industry (CIDCI), Charles Pankow Foundation, 2019. University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,

Ashcraft, Howard W., Jr. “Integrated Project Delivery Agreement – A Lawyer’s Perspective.” Journal of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers, May 2014.

“ASHRAE Standard 209-2018 Energy Simulation Aided Design for Buildings except Low Rise Residential Buildings.” Techstreet Store., accessed March 23, 2020.

Brophy, Vivienne, and J. Owen Lewis. “Green Vitruvius: Principles and Practice of Sustainable Architectural Design.” Earthscan, 2011.,%20J%20Owen%20Lewis&sub8=Green%20Vitruvius%20-%20Principles%20And%20Practice%20Of%20Sustainable%20Architectural%20Design%20-%20Vivienne%20Brophy,%20J%20Owen%20Lewis&m=Green%20Vitruvius%20-%20Principles%20And%20Practice%20Of%20Sustainable%20Architectural%20Design%20-%20Vivienne%20Brophy,%20J%20Owen%20Lewis

Brundtland Commission. “Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future.” 1987, accessed March 23, 2020.

DeKay, Mark. Integral Sustainable Design: Transformative Perspectives. London, UK: Earthscan, 2011.

Mang, Pamela, and Bill Reed. “Regenerative Development and Design.” Encyclopedia of Sustainable Science and Technology, 2012 Edition. Springer Link, accessed Jan. 9, 2020.

Reed, Bill. “Shifting from ‘Sustainability’ to Regeneration.” Building Research & Information, 35:6, pp. 674–680, accessed Jan. 9, 2020.

Resilient Design Institute. “The Resilient Design Principles.” Resilient Design Institute, 2012., accessed Jan. 9, 2020.

Resilient Design Institute. “What Is Resilience?” Resilient Design Institute, 2012.

“What Is Whole Systems Thinking?” Sustainability Office, University of British Columbia., accessed March 23, 2020.

Williams, Daniel E. Sustainable Design: Ecology, Architecture, and Planning. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007.