Thir13en Solutions

Integrated Design Process©


A SAP Compliant, Energy Efficiency & Low-Carbon Building Solution Consultancy

The Integrated Design Process challenges us to rethink conventional project design, and construction, with a greater emphasis on up-front understanding of the conceptualisation and goal setting in a sustainable manner.

Triple Bottom Line thinking maximises and leverages sustainability goals, allowing them to have impact well into and throughout project occupancy with three dimensions of performance: social, environmental and financial.  These dimensions are also commonly called the three Ps: people, planet and profits…

Up-front visualisation and goal setting are critical, for as the project progresses, opportunities to make effective changes decrease while costs and inconvenience increase.

Design Construction graph


The conventional process engages design and construction professionals on a need-to-know basis.  The Integrated Design Process works to identify and engage stakeholders early and throughout, in order to establish and work correctly toward project goals in unison on a holistic basis.

Typical vs Integrated participation

While eliminating confusion and double-billing, the Integrated Design Process creates design and construction harmony in real time, ensuring everyone’s on the same page.

Typical vs Integrated graphicIndividuals may be exceptionally good at what they do, while experts in varied fields working together in an integrated 3-D environment ensure fail-safe assurances of meeting project requirements and achieving third-party certification.  Just as one wants a doctor to look at one’s health from a holistic perspective, the same applies to the functioning of one’s home, or any building for that matter.

There are a multitude of changes to specifications that are required to meet the new building regulations.  This requires expertise and solutions from a variety of disciplines, each of which have their own particular specifications and requirements.  It is how these varied aspects and requirements work together that confuse even the most practised builder or contractor, which is why the Integrated Design Process is so important.  Let’s explore just one of these aspects:


The Building Regulations approved document Part L1A 2010 now specify that any new dwellings are built airtight. The regulation is focused upon conservation of fuel and power usage. Part L1A states that any new dwellings are tested for air tightness.

The cost of energy has almost doubled in the past decade, and further increases in energy prices, supply shortfalls and uncertainty of supply, has increased the need for greater energy efficiency.  Preventing draughts means better living comfort and increased energy efficiency, which in turn leads to lower heating costs.  Airtightness also protects the building against damage, helping to maintain its appearance and extending your home’s life.

Health & Well-Being
Ensuring excellent air quality in buildings requires a combination of high levels of air tightness and controlled ventilation to provide a constant supply of fresh, oxygen-rich air.


Consideration for air tightness should begin during the initial design phase, as it affects so many other aspects of the build. We work with leading advisor’s on the best practice designs for air tightness who provide product specific training, and perform air tightness testing in accordance with ISO standards when required.

Common leakage sites are listed in the Figure and explained below:

1. Junction lower floor / vertical wall; 2. Junction window sill / vertical wall; 3. Junction window lintel / vertical wall; 4. Junction window reveal / vertical wall (horizontal view); 5. Vertical wall (Cross section); 6. Perforation vertical wall; 7. Junction top floor / vertical wall; 8. Penetration of top floor; 9. Junction French window / vertical wall; 10. Junction inclined roof / vertical wall; 11. Penetration inclined roof; 12. Junction inclined roof / roof ridge; 13. Junction inclined roof / window; 14. Junction rolling blind / vertical wall; 15. Junction intermediate floor / vertical wall; 16. Junction exterior door lintel / vertical wall; 17. Junction exterior door sill / sill; 18. Penetration lower floor / crawlspace or basement; 19. Junction service shaft / access door and 20. Junction internal wall / intermediate floor.

Many builders just state that they’ll ‘tape it up’, but knowledge in this regard states that this is just not good enough!  Which solution is being used at which join, and what is the efficacy of those solutions?  Will it last a lifetime?  To which air-tightness resistance are they working to?  Seven, or three, or below?  [The lower the number, the better the resistance…]  To give you an idea, the common English air-tightness in housing stock is 11.3, therefore some people feel they’ve done pretty good achieving a 7, and even better when achieving a 3, but this brings up a lot of questions that are only resolved during the integrated design process.  For example, what is the economics of running a Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery unit to a certain air-tightness rating, and does certain MVHR units actually perform to manufacturer’s claims when the minimum air-tightness recommended [2.5 or better] is not achieved?  Even though we’re only showing one example of various aspects that need to be considered here as this affects the holistic approach of the whole building, it is most important to get things right from the outset, and then ensure the follow-through of the specifications agreed.  This particular query falls under the auspices of ‘Fabric First‘, and applies to all building solutions that one may consider.


The Integrated Design Chart process allows for ambitious goal setting within a framework that establishes discipline and accountability through multiple feedback loops.

Exploration Chart


  1. Owners Project Requirements
  2. Goal Setting Charts and Outline Planning
  3. Stakeholder Surveys and Mapping/Fact Finding
  4. Establishment of Key Performance Indicators
  5. 3D Design/BIM showing
  6. Specifications which leads to
  7. Pre-certification, Documentation and Detailed Planning
  8. Contract negotiations and
  9. Construction Phase
  10. Project Management Specialist ensuring 1 through 13
  11. Commissioning, Structural and Specification Sign-off
  12. Final Certification and
  13. Documentation

Please NOTE:  Just because one is building a home, for example, instead of a large commercial building this should not mean that the integrated design process should be scoffed at, or ignored.  Too many times we see local builders and house developers opt to move forward on a design that has basically just got through Planning, whereupon problems arise on a constant basis.  It can be as simple as not meeting the thermal efficiencies required of the building envelope, to more complicated matters such as services, waste pipes, duct-work and power supply ‘crash’ in competition for space as project managers ‘just get on with it’ and are used to solving these problems on site.

That may be adequate when budgets allow for over-runs and people’s track record tend to instil one with confidence.  But, in this day and age of seriously increased costs of building materials and labour, skilled and semi-skilled labour shortages, more restrictive building controls and stricter building regulations, there truly does not exist any excuse for not using integrated design, with 3-D models and/or BIM as the underlying design principle that everyone can work around.

Designing in 3-D is no longer a mystery… It is considered part and parcel of most successful design and construction firms throughout the country, with most smaller design practices having adopted same years ago.  Particular 3-D design programmes have been created specifically for the construction of buildings and with integrated design it is no longer difficult to ensure the running of services, beams, ducts etc. can all be placed correctly and work in unison to the intended design.  With 3-D, design limitations can be overcome in an easier fashion than trying to imagine how 2-D pages of drawings come together in a holistic manner.  Architectural drawing

Certified Building Systems and the Integrated Design Process combine in the ability to adopt the use of certified building systems and/or solutions with the ‘whole building design process’ in mind while using, preserving and respecting the natural Earth biospheres’ systems of recycling air, waste and water while being fully energy efficient.  Certified Building Systems can tend to offer unequaled cost efficiencies over conventional construction, saving time, labour, energy and material costs and an Integrated Design Process team will make the most of that to satisfy a client’s expectations in the design as well as with the finished product.

“Simply stated, if a client is not working with an integrated design process team, they’re simply asking for problems to present themselves.”


For those really keen to gain more insight into the Integrated Design Process, please click on the link below:

The Integrated Design Process, continued…⇒