Because the methods and materials used in building high-performance homes are sometimes unfamiliar to trade partners, strong communication and collaboration practices are crucial to success. Everyone agreed that insufficient communication, both between the builder and trade partners, and within the trade partners’ organizations, was one of the biggest barriers to overcome when constructing the lab home. This was addressed, in part, by including the trade contractors upfront in the planning and design process, which was a major focus of the project.
Trade partners that were expected to overlap and interact during construction were brought in to the IBACOS headquarters to participate in training and the development of mock-up assemblies. For example, not only was the HVAC contractor part of the HVAC system planning process, but so were the plumbing, electrical, and ground-source heat pump ground-loop contractors. Engaging with the trades made them feel like part of the process, and we learned as much from them as they did from us.