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Integrated whole building design guidelines

This report provides guidance on the integrated whole building design process. By using this process, the government aims to ensure that future government buildings are designed to be healthier and more environmentally sustainable.

Executive summary

This guide provides a breakdown of the processes and documentation required at each stage of the design process. Guidance is provided up to the completion of the construction phase and beyond this the Ministry for the Environment’s commissioning guidance document should be used. Using these two guides in conjunction with each other will help Govt3 agencies achieve and maintain buildings with good environmental performance over their lease term or life.

A conventional design process tends to encourage the segregation of the disciplines which can result in a fragmented design that may not meet all of the design objectives. As a consequence, environmentally sustainable design (ESD) opportunities are usually only recognised once the initial concept design is complete, which can make them difficult and expensive to incorporate. This report aims to identify a better approach to the design process to produce high-performing buildings that are more resource efficient, require less maintenance and provide healthier working environments for users and tenants.

An IWBDP is a design method which considers the building as a whole and requires the involvement of all stakeholders, design team members and future users or tenants. Design opportunities are recognised during the first stages of the design process and can be more easily and cost-effectively incorporated into the design. This design process realises the interconnectedness of disciplines and can help integrate the building services into the building structure. Input on the design from the team members, stakeholders and future users or tenants is encouraged during the very first stages of the process.

The benefits of using an IWBDP for a building can include:

  • reduced operation and maintenance costs
  • reduced energy consumption
  • reduced water use and waste water production
  • reduced waste production
  • improved comfort levels for occupants
  • improved productivity of occupants
  • a healthier environment for occupants
  • greater marketability.

To ensure that buildings designed using an IWBDP maintain their high performance, it is recommended that initial commissioning, fine-tuning and continuous energy, water and waste auditing strategies are adopted. Initial commissioning and fine-tuning will help ensure the systems within the building are performing as they were designed. Continuous auditing can be used to monitor the performance of the building and occupants in meeting agreed targets and also to give an indication of any improvements that can be made.

IWBDP project checklist

This checklist provides an overview of the principal activities involved in the integrated whole building design process.

Activity Complete

Small building (≤500m2)

Medium building (>500m2 ≤1000m2)

Large building (>1000m2)

1. Require adoption of IWBDP and recommend adoption of NZCIC Design Documentation Guidelines by the project team (refer to Further reading section).


2. Appoint an IWBDP facilitator or champion.



3. Carry out a visioning workshop and stakeholder consultation.


4. Summarise the project goals identified in the workshops and consultations into the outline building brief and issue to the design team as the basis for design.



5. Carry out concept and preliminary high-level design workshops and write reports.



6. Carry out targeted elemental developed design workshops and write a report.



7. Specify that the design team uses Building Information Modelling (BIM) for detailed design documentation.



8. Arrange for the independent commissioning agent and facilities manager to review the design for buildability, maintainability, and commissioning.



9. Provide building user guide training and facilities management training.



10. Arrange for an independent commissioning agent to oversee and report on building commissioning.



11. Ensure building maintenance contracts are set up during the first six months of operation.


12. Ensure first-year building fine-tuning is carried out and provide feedback to the design team.



13. Carry out operational energy, water and waste auditing and provide feedback to the design team.


14. Carry out post-occupancy evaluation of the building after nine months of operation and provide feedback to the design team.


15. Carry out triennial building audits.


16. Allow for any continuous commissioning as a result of triennial audits.



17. Include a green performance schedule if building is leased.



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