Seeking to promote a project delivery approach they claim can save up to 5% on contract costs and better protect owner interests, 16 public and private-sector building professionals have formed a new education and advocacy group to promote "bridging." The Atlanta-based Bridging Institute of America will also assist design firms, design-build firms and program managers to structure contracts with owners to use the method and serve as a forum for best practices.

The nonprofit BIA will formalize the bridging approach by educating and certifying designers and other project-delivery professionals in its use, says founder George Heery, a longtime bridging advocate and chairman of Brookwood Group, Atlanta. He says it combines the best attributes ofdesign-bid-build, design-build and construction management at-risk project delivery but without features that "adversely affect the owner."

The method uses a design-build form of contract and requires the architect to work under contract to the owner, thus eliminating the conflict of interest Heery sees in typical design-build. In bridging, another designer works for the contractor team. Overall, the method's primary emphasis is to reduce risks and costs for the owner.

"There's more collaboration among designers and constructors and quicker and less expensive fixes in correcting problems," he says. The need for BIA became apparent to the founders to help improve how the bridging process was implemented on projects, often with less-than-ideal results.

"We decided the best way to protect the correct methodology and to let more people understand the method was to set up a nonprofit institute," says Heery. He says Brookwood has used it on more than $4 billion worth of projects, with contractor-initiated change order rates averaging 0.3%. Membership is open to all project team members. More information is available at