Revealing rewards of collaborative approach to construction projects
Arizona State University assistant professor Mounir El Asmar (at right) is pictured with students in his Sustainable Construction course at a building project site on ASU’s Tempe campus. El Asmar is studying new collaborative planning, design and management approaches to enable construction projects to be more efficient and cost-effective, and to ensure the quality of built environments. Photograph: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU.
Mounir El Asmar has been recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for his outstanding contributions to construction management and construction engineering.
He was presented the ASCE Thomas Fitch Rowland Prize on June 9 at the International Construction Specialty Conference in Canada for his research to quantify the performance of emerging construction project delivery systems.
El Asmar is an assistant professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.
The ASCE award was based on the results of a project he led and reported on in a paper written with two colleagues that was published in the ASCE Journal of Construction Engineering and Management.
El Asmar teamed with professor Awad Hanna, chair of the construction engineering and management program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Wei-Yin Loh, a professor of statistics at Wisconsin-Madison, to measure the effectiveness of what the construction industry calls Integrated Project Delivery.
Conventional project delivery systems in the construction industry have often been disjointed. Architects, engineers and contractors traditionally provide design and construction services separately in different phases of a building project, El Asmar says.
The new integrated system strongly emphasizes close collaboration among all contributors throughout the whole project lifecycle – from the inception of a building’s design to full completion of construction, he explains.
“The new IPD system is resulting in large benefits in the quality of the built facilities, which also are being designed and constructed much faster” he says.
He closely examined 35 completed projects around the country that followed various project delivery systems.
The ASCE lauded the research for showing the new system “achieves statistically significant improvements” in the scheduling and quality of construction, managing project changes, communications among stakeholders, meeting environmental requirements and cost-effectiveness.
“My work is about improving the performance of our built environment,” El Asmar says, “and our study shows this new approach offers real potential for major improvement in the industry,”
El Asmar is using the project results to guide some of his work as a co-director and leader of sustainable construction projects for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Center of Excellence on SMART Innovations at ASU (SMART stands for Sustainable Materials and Renewable Technologies). El Asmar is also a senior sustainability scientist with ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.
He has presented his research on integrated project delivery at more than 50 national and international professional conferences and industry meetings, and has published his work in several ASCE journals. He won the 2014 Construction Industry Institute Distinguished Professor Award.
He has developed several courses for ASU and the University of Wisconsin on topics in his fields of expertise.
El Asmar studied mechanical engineering and economics at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, his native country, and earned a master’s degree in construction engineering and management and a doctoral degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Joe Kullman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering