New Construction

Architects, engineers, and project managers can improve the performance and quality of their buildings by following and managing set plans and guidelines from initial planning to the completed stage of their projects. Having an idea where to start in the conceptual phase can be helpful, and referring back to the basics listed below can help in the execution of a successful and high-performing design.


Design Objectives

When considering design objectives, it is important to consider each category and build-out plans and goals to ensure a well-rounded building. A truly successful project is one where project goals are identified early on and where the interdependencies of all building systems are coordinated concurrently from the planning and programming phase. You must also consider the site/location of your building, your budget goals and financing options, as well as your timeline for project completion.

  • Accessibility: Building elements, heights and clearances implemented to address the specific needs of disabled people
  • Aesthetics: Physical appearance and image of building elements and spaces as well as the integrated design process
  • Cost-effective: Selecting building elements on the basis of life-cycle costs (weighing options during concepts, design development, and value engineering) as well as basic cost estimating and budget control. Considering high-performing features usually relays to a high upfront cost, but you must consider the longevity and payback benefits that are associated with various features
  • Functional/Operational: Functional programming – spatial needs and requirements, system performance as well as durability and efficient maintenance of building elements (when scoping goals and objectives for this category, also consider beginning the commissioning process)
  • Productivity: Take into account the occupants’ well-being, physical and psychological comfort, including building elements such as air distribution, lighting, workspaces, systems and technology
  • Secure/safety: Physical protection of occupants and assets from man-made and natural hazards
  • Sustainability: Environmental performance, building performance, energy saving elements and strategies


Building Types

A building’s function strongly influences its design and construction. For each general Building Type there is a discussion of the attributes and requirements of the type as well as restrictions/regulations on more specific uses. Each of the building type generally has differing standards, technologies and emerging issues relevant to the specific use topic.

To view more building types with specific NC and National case studies, visit the “Pick Your Building” page.


Design Disciplines

Every building project has a unique set of program goals and technical requirements that demand assembling all the stakeholders and a team of professionals in various design disciplines. Each design discipline has a different set of skills, professional standards, and issues that drive how they operate in the building process. Traditionally, many disciplines provide a specialized technical service that is not always well coordinated with other aspects of the project. ‘Whole building,’ or integrated, design as a process requires the various stakeholders and disciplines to coordinate and interact as early as possible in the process, and throughout the life cycle of the project to achieve a holistic solution that may yield multiple benefits. For most commercial projects, you will be working with different firms, contractors and finance agencies from the following:


Guides and Specification

The Guides and Specifications below  augment the integrated design approach professed by the Whole Buildings Design Guide. The guides offer a deep dive into building enclosure components—as well as a number of calculator tools that aid the design and specification of mechanical insulation. The specifications below serve the agencies that create them, and also can offer valuable design advice for specific building types in the public and private sectors.


Additional Resources