How to Manage a Lakesideca Team
Don’t let the little things bite you in the assets.
Project management, while not rocket science, requires skills that range from technical to interpersonal to creative. Project management for green building adds layers to this already complex process.
Green-building certification programs typically exceed the building code, require extra documentation, and frequently involve the incorporation of materials and methods unfamiliar to many trade contractors. As a project manager of a green job, your challenge is to: (1) clearly understand how the job’s requirements differ from your normal process, (2) communicate those differences to the job site, and (3) confirm that the requirements are met throughout the process.
It’s all about the variances from the norm, and their side effects. As project managers, we need to watch out for variances and how they affect the rest of the project. The stuff we do the same way is easy; it’s the variances that cause problems. Identifying those variances and managing them throughout the process is the key to successful project management.
Start by reviewing the checklist for your green building program. First, identify any of the required or prerequisite items that differ from your standard procedures. Next, check off each item that you intend to include in your project, again, noting anything that differs from your standards. From these you create your list of variances.
Assign each variance item to a specific trade or employee, based on their skill set or work scope. After this assignment process, there may be some leftover items that you haven’t found anyone to take responsibility for—these are the most important variances, the ones that will get you in real trouble if you don’t manage them carefully.
One area that requires careful attention is air sealing and insulation. If you are used to having a trade contractor price up insulation and fire caulking that just meets the code and lets you move to drywall, you should be prepared to change the scope of work on your projects.
Start by reading the Energy Star Thermal Bypass Checklist Guide
to review the difference between the various grades of insulation work and how to seal the entire building envelope. Get an expert to walk you through your project and point out all the places that require solid blocking or spray foam to seal up the air leaks. Then get your insulation contractor to give you a quote for the work the way you want it, and inspect everything at the end to make sure it is all complete and correct. Sometimes the insulation contractor can’t or won’t do all the air sealing or blocking work you need—that is when you must assign those tasks to another team member to ensure that the work is completed.
The “house as a system” concept also is key—understanding how each part of the house affects the others will help you avoid unintended consequences. For example, if your HVAC contractor does not take into account the decreased load on the house provided by high-performance insulation and air sealing, oversize HVAC equipment will be installed. That can cause short cycling, humidity issues, and high energy bills—problems for you and your homeowners.