According to the Canadian Construction Association, close to $300 billion was invested in construction last year. Would you want to ensure your project was completed on budget and on time? How about ensuring your General Contractor, Designers and Trade Partners collaborate to deliver the best value to you as the Owner? Of course you would.

There’s a new approach to design and construction that is doing just that. It’s called Integrated Project Delivery, or IPD. Owners across Canada are beginning to ask for IPD as it has enormous benefits. 

“IPD is a delivery model designed to unlock the true power of collaborative planning, lean construction and technologies like BIM,” says Tim Coldwell, Vice-President Origination at CHANDOS, a Canadian Contractor leading the charge on IPD.

“The more we developed IPD projects, the more we saw the need to engage with the entire supply chain to develop and teach best practices. That’s why CHANDOS founded the Integrated Project Delivery Alliance, an organization that exists to advance authentic integrated project delivery in Canada.”  

Revolutionizing the way we build

IPD has the potential to revolutionize the way construction projects are built but there is a knowledge gap in the industry. The Integrated Project Delivery Alliance was created to help fill that void. “The Alliance keeps the conversation going and provides training and mentorship, to educate on how IPD can make projects more successful,” says Jen Hancock, the Alliance’s acting Board Chair.

“IPD is relatively new in Canada and there seems to be some hesitation in adopting the model with people wanting to see more data. That’s why the Alliance is funding a groundbreaking study led by the University of Minnesota and supported by Canadian post secondary institutions. The study is to survey the participants in every known IPD project in North America to determine satisfaction with the process and the result. We are confident that the survey will reveal that IPD is a superior delivery method”  

“IPD is a delivery model designed to unlock the true power of collaborative planning, lean construction and technologies like BIM.”

Innovating, reducing waste, and creating a better product overall should be everyone’s goal. Proponents of the model say it is a much better way to do business, and more enjoyable to be working as a team, despite the tough conversations that still happen.

“Every single one of the participants in our IPD projects say they don’t want to go back to the traditional way of doing things; IPD is deeply fulfilling,” says Hancock. “Everyone on the team is accountable for the success of the project. On one project it rained so the roofers came in and helped clean the building. Traditionally, they would have taken the day off.” 

Collaboration pays off

With traditional construction, each trade is motivated to finish their scope of work and leave without thinking about how their work is impacting the project overall.

IPD is a deeply collaborative process that involves all participants at the beginning of the project. In doing so, the talents and insights of the whole team are harnessed to reduce waste and optimize efficiency through all phases of the project. 

“Owners love IPD because there is early cost certainty,” says Craig Webber, Partner at Group2 Architecture. “Contractors and Designers love it because they get to work together earlier in the process than traditional projects to optimize solutions. It’s a better way of working.”

Webber adds that it gets rid of all the finger pointing that typically happens when something goes wrong, because with IPD everyone is accountable and contributing to the success of the project. The rewards and risk are shared. 

IPD is largely a product of lean thinking. Lean is a philosophy derived from the Toyota Production System, which is a process that creates value by systematically eliminating waste in production. Lean is about respect for people and continuous improvement.

To actively invite participation, value opinion and collaborate to improve to achieve common objectives reflects respect for all involved.  After its early involvement with IPD, CHANDOS learned of the value of lean thinking and began implementing lean on every site and in every office. 

Getting value through efficiencies 

There have been roughly 120 projects in North America that have used the IPD model, with about 12 of those in Canada. New approaches naturally take time to become routine, but Coldwell expects that IPD will become more common throughout the industry.


It’s estimated that there is upwards of 40 percent waste in construction projects. A lot of that comes from risk in contracts. A typical construction project might have more than 100 different contracts for its suppliers and contractors, and each one has contingency built in.

This quickly becomes costly and inefficient, especially for large and complex projects. IPD with cost coverage certainty significantly reduces the number of contracts, eliminates silos, and brings everyone together as partners. CHANDOS recently completed the Mosaic Centre, a 30,000 square foot Edmonton office complex, using this model.

It was built at 12 percent below market cost and in four months (28 percent ahead of schedule.) “It’s not only about cost savings,” says Coldwell, “it’s about getting all the construction partners together and thinking about how we can add value for the client by being innovative and efficient.”