Top 10 Lean Construction Basics


The application of LEAN to construction is a focus upon best value for all project participants.   The core aspects of LEAN have been deployed for decades through collaborative construction delivery methods such as Integrated Project Delivery – IPD (for major new construction) and Job Order Contracting – JOC (for renovation, repair, maintenance, sustainability, and minor new construction).

Core Aspects of LEAN Construction

  1. Collaboration
  2. Best value procurement and execution
  3. Shared risk/reward
  4. Continuous improvement
  5. Key performance indicators – KPIs
  6. Mutual respect
  7. Ongoing education and training
  8. Common terms, definitions, and data architectures
  9. Technology that supports rather than dictates process
  10. Focus upon outcomes

top 10 lean construction delivery basics

LEAN construction requires new ways of interacting on a day to day basis.  For some, the required changes in culture, workflows, and general dynamics are difficult to achieve.

Owners must lead the LEAN construction process and do so without excessive management and control.  In order to lead, however, owners must first grasp and become “LEAN competent”.

The shift to LEAN construction is  virtually required in order to improved productivity, quality and to reduce economic and environment waste.

While some will argue that “Every situation is unique” and there is no standard application of LEAN, core characteristics are and requirements for LEAN do exist.   In short, consistency in process deployment is critical and can easily live within an environment of continuous improvement.  LEAN processes are built to adapt based upon the competency and communication of participants.




  1. Owner competency & leadership
  2. Life-cycle asset management philosophy
  3. Best value procurement
  4. Collaborative construction delivery methods (IPD, JOC, …)
  5. Mutual trust & respect
  6. Common terms, definitions, and data architectures….all in plain English
  7. Shared risk/reward
  8. Monitoring via key performance indicators (KPIs)
  9. Ongoing education, training, & awareness buildling
  10. Continuous improvement






Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the integration of disparate competencies, business processes, and technologies to accomplish the efficient life-cycle management of the built environment.

Per the above definition, BIM has not moved from theory to reality to any significant extent. Improving facility and infrastructure construction, management, operations, and sustainability is indeed possible, if Owners provide competent leadership.  

Owners must also recognize the value of collaboration, LEAN management methods, and information-based decision-making.   

The fundamental way in which Owners, Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Building Users, and Oversight Groups interact must change.   The issue is not, nor has ever been, shortcomings in technology.  The vacuum is one of lack of change management skills and lack of overall asset life-cycle management competency.

Asset life-cycle management, as demonstrated in the figure below, requires an integration of business areas and competencies.

BIM asset life-cycle competencies

The primary driver is actually the construction delivery method.  It is the construction delivery method that contractually defines roles, responsibilities, timelines, deliverables, relationships, and sets the tone for a project from day one.   The construction delivery method can actually REQUIRE COLLABORATION of all participants, right down to the terms, definitions, and information used.

Thus a collaborative construction delivery CONTRACT and its associated OPERATIONS or EXECUTION MANUAL are the detailed road map to completed a significantly higher percentage (90%+) of quality  renovation, repair, and construction projects on-time and on-budget, and to the satisfaction of ALL participants.

Collaborative construction delivery methods such as Integrated Project Delivery, IPD for major new construction, and Job Order Contracting, JOC, for renovation, repair, maintenance, and minor new construction aren’t new.  The both have proven track records spanning decades.

asset life-cycle model for buildings and infrasructure

OpenJOC win-win

So, why isn’t everyone using collaborative construction delivery methods, and why aren’t 90% of projects delivered on-time and on-budget?   The answer has already been noted… owners are providing the necessary competent leadership, and many players are satisfied with the status quo.




It’s not simply a a learning curve issues,  it’s a culture change.  The multi-party nature, required financial transparency, and sharing of risk and reward is a definite hurdle for many.   Some current owners, contractors, and AE’s, quite simply, won’t be able to make the required transition.

Would it not be nice to stop focusing upon pretty 3D pictures, dated IWMS systems, and other technologies that dictate process and/or embed antagonistic workflows?  As stated previously, technology isn’t the solution, it can however be a crutch, and a problem… if it prevents us from asking the right questions… and dealing with positive change.







LEAN Construction Delivery Process

Job Order Contracting - LEAN Construction Delivery


If you consider BIM to be the solution to low construction productivity, think again.

3D visualization and technology will do little to solve construction project delivery woes.

The root of the decades long decline in construction productivity and associated poor facility management practices is cultural.

Construction is like any other relatively complex manufacturing process.  It requires a focus upon best management practices, education and training, key performance indicators, and continuous improvement, in short, LEAN business process application.

Reducing end product variability, cycle-times, waste, and cost is not rocket science.  There are multiple proven LEAN construction delivery methods and life-cycle / total cost-of-ownership models available.  Owners must drive their accelerated adoption.
The most widely used and successful LEAN construction delivery methods are Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, for major new construction, and Job Order Contracting, JOC, for renovation, repair, maintenance, sustainability, and minor new construction.  When deployed and managed properly by Owners, on-time, on-budget, quality construction is the norm versus the exception.

Characteristics of LEAN Construction Delivery

  • Collaboration
  • Mutual Respect & Trust
  • Financial Transparency
  • Owner Leadership without excessive management & control
  • Shared Risk/Reward
  • Best Value Procurement
  • Common Standard Terms, Definitions, & Data Architectures (UNIFORMAT, MASTERFORMAT, OMNICLASS)
  • Continuous Education, Training, & Improvement
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) / Auditsjob order contract key performance indicators
  • Written Execution / Operations Manuals (Roles, Responsibilities, Deliverables, Workflows / Standardized Work Processes, Reporting Requirements…)

2015 optimized facility renovation and repair

standardized cost datajob order contract key performance indicators

WWW.JOBORDERCONTRACTING.ORGbim, building information management for FM

Job Order Contracting – Education, Training, Best Practices

Job Order Contracting – Education, Training, Best Practices

Strategy – Foundations – Collaboration – Standards – People – Process – Technology – Enabling Tools – Resources


Job order contracting provides distinct advantages to traditional design-bid-build, design-build, or CM@R.

Job order contracting is a LEAN collaborative construction delivery method that enable numerous renovation, repair, and construction projects to be completed on-time and on-budget, as well as to the satisfaction of all participants.

Job order contracting is NOT for everyone as it requires a shift is Culture and Behavior as well as a minimum set of capabilities on the part of the Owner, Contractor, and other stakeholders.   In point of fact, many/most Owners are not capable of deploying Job Order Contracting as they require additional education in the areas of LEAN, total-cost-of-ownership, and life-cycle management of the  built environment.   Similarly many contractors may not have the necessary skills and/or mindsets of transparency, collaboration, and shared/common goals.

job order contracting

A best practice job order contacting framework incorporates a JOC contract and an associated job order contracting operations manual.   Roles, responsibilities, and deliverables are clearly defined.   A unit price book, UPB is used by Owners and Contractors to provide line item detail and cost estimates for all construction projects / task orders.

A best practice Job Order Contract is also one that is Owner developed, deployed, and managed.  While outsourcing a Job Order Contracting Program to a third party may provide a way to become familiar with job order contracting, both it and the use of Cooperatives do not provide the full capabilities and benefits associated with Job Order Contracting.

Learn more about Job Order Contracting best management practices…





JOC – Job Order Contracting – Improving Productivity for Facility Renovation, Repair, Sustainability, and Construction

Being productive is not just about being efficient.  Sure, you can tweak a few things here to attempt be more efficient with respect to your numerous renovation, repair, sustainability, and construction projects, but substantial productivity gains require fundamentally  changing how you do things.

Doing something more efficiently is not as effective as deploying a process or technique that results in doing something a better way.

Improving construction productivity is not rocket science.  The sole reason construction productivity has been abysmal vs. virtually every other business sector is its failure to adopt standardized, proven, and collaborative processes.

Owners must learn more about collaborative and integrated project delivery methods:  IPD – integrated project delivery for new construction, JOC – job order contracting or renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction, and PPP – private-public-partnerships.

IPD, and JOC, a form of IPD are neither radical nor new.  Both have been around and practiced for decades, however, very few Owners have taken the time to learn about these collaborative methods and/or how to implement them properly.

While “blame” is not the purpose of this article, Owners are, in fact, to blame.   They write sign the contracts and write the checks.  They have enabled the high level of waste throughout the construction industry.

Improvements of 20-25%+ on the procurement side, virtual elimination of legal disputes, and significant reduction of change orders are just a few of the benefits provided by IPD and JOC.  In addition, owners, contractors, and AEs tend to get more work done on-time and on-budget.  Also, what is delivered is what was anticipated.

Traditional design-bid-build is not a friend to collaboration and productivity improvement and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.   Low-bid, should most certainly be abandoned unless one is purchasing a commodity and all other variables are consistent.

Poor construction project management and associated traditional construction delivery method lead to  unsupportable levels of waste and overall dissatisfaction among all stakeholders – Owners, AEs, Contractors, Subs, Build Product Manufacturers, Oversight Groups, Building Users, and the Community.

Both economic and environmental issues are begin to force change, however, the pace has been glacially slow.  Far too much time has been spent upon 3D visualization techniques vs. efficient project delivery methods and associated life-cycle management of built environment.

Collaboration critical, but it’s more than a “buzzword”.  Collaboration must be implemented with proven business “best-practices” supported by technology and  continuously improved.

The key characteristics of IPD, Job Order Contracting and associated collaborative construction delivery methods are as follows:

1. Early and ongoing joint participation among Owners, Contractors, AEs …

2. Shared risk/reward

3. Transparent and/or standardize costs (example: a unit price book, UPB, based upon RSMeans or other dependable source)

4. Common terms and definitions / ontology

5. Supporting technology with embedded workflows/processes to enable consistent deployment, monitoring, and reduced implementation costs.

Collaborative construction delivery methods such as IPD and JOC change the way most Owners, AEs, and Contractors do things on a day-to-day basis.  Long term relationships and transparent information sharing are the norm vs. exception.

Learn more at

JOC Process

“Outcome-based Pathway” – The New Mandate for Energy Compliance?

The following addition is being proposed to the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).


“The building community needs a better baseline of actual building performance against which to measure progress. More importantly, the application and use of prescriptive criteria must be eliminated in favor of stated performance goals or expected outcomes (although, after setting those goals or outcomes, prescriptive guidance to achieve them can be developed).”  – NIBS


60X.1 Outcome‐based requirements. Compliance for buildings and their sites to be designed on an outcome
basis shall be determined by actual measurement of all the energy being used once the building and the
energy using elements associated with the building site are in full operation in accordance with Equation 6‐3.
Where a building has multiple occupancy types, the maximum allowable energy use shall be based on total
gross floor area of each occupancy type in relation to the total gross floor area of all occupancy types within
the building. All buildings and their sites utilizing these Outcome‐Based Pathway Requirements shall comply
with the International Energy Conservation Code. Compliance shall be determined based on a determination
of actual energy use in accordance with this section.
Exception: Buildings having one or more uses or occupancies not listed in Table 60X.1 or where a mixed use
building per the International Building Code includes any occupancies not shown in Table 60X.1, shall not be
eligible to demonstrate compliance with this code in accordance with Section 60X.
60X.1.1 zEPI. All outcome‐based designs shall demonstrate a zEPI of not more than 51 as determined in
accordance with Equation 6‐3.
zEPI = 100 (EUIa / EUIr) (Equation 6‐3)
EUIa = the Actual Annual Energy Use Index for the building and building site expressed
in accordance with Section 60X.1.2 and Equation 6‐4.
EUIr = the Reference Annual Energy Use Index for the building use and occupancy in
Table 60X.1 as adjusted by Section 60X.1.3 where applicable
Climate Zonea 1A 2A 2B 3A 3B 3B 3C 4A 4B 4C 5A 5B 6A 6B 7 8
Use and Occupancyb Reference EUIr skBtu/sf/yr
Business (B)
Office 154 159 154 151 124 140 137 167 144 152 179 155 190 176 208 282
Bank 154 159 154 151 124 140 137 167 144 152 179 155 190 176 208 282
Medical Office (non
115 119 115 113 93 104 102 125 108 114 134 116 148 131 156 210
Storage (S‐2)
105 67 69 66 52 64 55 75 70 66 87 81 104 95 119 186
Mercantile (M)
Grocery/Food Store 448 476 452 484 434 450 473 522 479 514 554 511 592 561 633 758
Assembly (A)
Library (A‐3) 234 232 224 230 193 217 209 254 228 235 275 246 304 277 327 434
Educational (E)
140 139 134 134 111 128 124 149 132 132 160 141 182 161 193 274
Institutional (I‐2)
417 422 397 408 394 388 407 425 366 398 425 374 439 394 446 532
a. Climate zones as determined in accordance with by Section C301 of the International Energy Conservation Code.
b. Use and occupancy as determined by Chapter 3 of the International Building Code.
60X.1.2 Actual energy use intensity (EUIa). The actual energy use intensity (EUIa) of the building and
building site shall be expressed in accordance with this section of the code. On‐site renewable energy
generation in excess of the generation requirements of Section 610 may be included in the calculation of
the EUIa.
The EUIa shall be determined in accordance with Equation 6‐4 and Sections 60X.1.2.1.
EUIa = AEUconsumption – AEUrenewable
TCFA (Equation 6‐4)
EUIa = the energy use intensity of the building and building site
AEU consumption = the annual energy consumed by the building and building site from all forms of
energy defined in Sections 603.3.1 through 603.3.6 and converted to source Btus in accordance
with Sections 602.1.2.2 and 602.1.2.3.
AEU renewable = the annual energy produced by onsite renewable energy systems in excess of the
production required by Section 610 and converted to source Btus by multiplying onsite Btu
production by a factor of 1.
TCFA = the total conditioned floor area of the building as defined in Section C202 of the
International Energy Conservation Code.
60X.1.2.1 Measurement of AEUs. The AEUs shall be determined from metering, utility billing or
other form of measurement in accordance with Section 603.
60X.1.3 Reference energy use intensity (EUIr). The reference energy use intensity shall be determined
utilizing Table 60X.1. The EUIr value from Table 60X.1 shall be adjusted based on the monthly weighted
average percentage of occupied floor area during the 12‐month compliance period as documented in
accordance with 60X.3.2. For buildings with multiple use or occupancy designations in Table 60X.1, the
EUIr shall be adjusted based on the weighted area average of the use or occupancy.
60X.2 Annual direct and indirect CO2e emissions. The emissions associated with the EUIa shall be less than or
equal to the CO2e emissions associated with the CO2e emissions in accordance with the EUIr determined in
Section 60X.1.3. The CO2e emissions calculations for the building and building site shall be determined in
accordance with Sections 60X.2.1 and 60X.2.2 and Equation 6‐5.
CO2ea ≤ (CO2er x zEPI) / 100 (Equation 6‐5)
zEPI = the minimum score as prescribed by Section 60X.1.1
CO2ea = emissions associated with the EUIa of the building as determined in accordance with Section
CO2er = emissions associated with the EUIr as determined in accordance with Section 60X.1.3
60X.2.1 Onsite electricity. For the purpose of determining compliance with the provisions of Section
60X.2, the CO2e emissions associated with onsite electricity use shall be calculated in accordance with
Section 602.2.1.
60X.2.2 Onsite nonrenewable energy. For the purpose of determining compliance with the provisions of
Section 60X.2, the CO2e emissions associated with onsite non‐renewable energy use shall be calculated in
accordance with Section 602.2.2.
60X.3 Compliance
60X.3.1 Issuance of Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. Upon the satisfaction of the code official of
compliance with all code provision other than those covered in Section 60X, the official shall issue a
Temporary Certificate of Occupancy as authorized in Section 111.3 of the International Building Code.
60X.3.2 Reporting of Energy Use and CO2e Emissions. Within 36 months of issuance of the temporary
certificate of occupancy, the building owner shall provide the AHJ with documentation, in a form
acceptable to the code official and certified by a registered design professional, of a continuous 12‐month
period where the building meets requirements of Sections 60X.1 and 60X.2. The occupancy or use type for
the occupied period utilized in Section 60X.1.3 shall be indicated in the documentation and include, at a
minimum, the time periods and square footage of the building occupied by all building tenants.
60X.3.3 Certificate of Occupancy. Upon compliance with Section 60X.3.2, the building shall be issued a
Certificate of Occupancy.
60X.3.4 Non‐Compliance. Should the building owner fail to comply with Section 60X.3.2, the owner shall
be deemed non‐compliant and be issued a violation.

via – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring an exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating/automatic quantity take off ( QTO),  and collaborative contract/project/document management, all in one application.   Our technology is currently serving over 85% of United States Air Force bases and rapidly growing numbers of other DOD and non-DOD (United States Army Corps of Engineers,  Army, GSA, Homeland Security, VA..) federal departments/agencies, as well as state/county/local governments, colleges/universities, healthcare,  and airports/transportation.  RSMeans Strategic Partner


NRC Thoughts on the DOD and Sustainability – Sustainable Buildings and Infrastructure

(Source:  UMass Amherst)

“New recommendations by a National Research Council (NRC) expert panel on green and sustainable building performance could lead to a revolution in building science by creating the first large building performance database”  – Paul Fisette, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

NRC panel members were asked to consider whether nearly 500,000 structures owned by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) worldwide are being operated as sustainably and as efficiently as possible according to a number of green building standards, including Green Globes, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).   After a  nine-month assessment of energy efficiency, water use and many other sustainability factors at about 300,000 of the DOD facilities, one of their top recommendations is that the department should start metering such variables as energy and water use, to collect information on how different facilities perform in many different environments.

What is lacking in building science has been this consistent set of data, really large samples over time.

One of the things learned from this study is that the Defense Department is the perfect organization to be able to provide  ongoing data.   The DOD is  a “single” owner of a lot of property and they have control over how it’s operated, along with costs, uses and standards.

The DOD has the opportunity to continue to take a leadership role in improving the knowledge base about high-performance buildings, improving decision-support tools and improving building models by collecting data on measured energy, water and other resource use for its portfolio of buildings and by collaborating with others.

Central to any sustainability effort, however, is the ability to execute the numerous associated renovation, repair, and minor new construction projects.   Proven collaborative, transparent, and productive construction delivery methods such as Job Order Contracting, JOC, are an important component of success.

JOC ProcessVia: – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software and service for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, SATOC, MATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS…, featuring an exclusively enhanced 400,000 RSMeans Cost Database with modifiers and full descriptions, and integrated visual estimating, QTO, contract management, project management, and document management… all in one application.