A new study shows the design-build delivery method saved almost half the time as traditional delivery methods in completing water and wastewater projects. The study, sponsored by the Water Design-Build Council, is one of the first to compare the design-build delivery method to design-bid-build in the water sector, says Sarah Chittenden, executive director of the council.

A team of researchers from the University of New Mexico, University of Colorado at Boulder and Iowa State University collected data on 100 public water and wastewater projects completed since January 2003, each with total project costs of at least $3 million. Thirty-one of the projects were design-build, and 69 were design-bid-build.

The researchers found that design-build projects in the water-wastewater sector have a shorter duration for design and construction than design-bid-build projects. The median duration for design and construction for design-build projects was 23 months, compared to 40 months for traditional design-bid-build projects.

Dan McCarthy, president and CEO of Overland Park, Kan.-based Black & Veatch’s Global Water Business, a member of the Water Design-Build Council, says more clients now request design-build on water and wastewater projects, although the design-build market hasn’t fully matured. “We’re also seeing variations of design-build, such as construction management at-risk and other ways to deliver projects more innovatively,” he says.

The concept of design-build is particularly pertinent to projects relating to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which places priority on “shovel ready” projects, notes Chittenden. “We’d really like to see this idea of shovel-ready to include alternate project delivery, such as progressive design-build.”