The Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) is seeking industry comment through April 1 on a draft document that highlights best practices for design-build projects in the water-wastewater sector.

The document, circulated at DBIA's water-wastewater sector conference in San Antonio March 11-13, is based on DBIA's universal best practices for design-build document released last year. The group released a similar draft of best practices for transportation projects at its transportation conference March 9-11.

Lisa Washington, DBIA's executive director, said the "market drill-downs" are meant to supplement the association's universal best practices, which apply to all types of construction projects. The sector-specific suggestions were based on input from DBIA members and other stakeholders. The organization will publish the final document at the end of April.

As design-build becomes more widely accepted for U.S. construction projects, advocates of the delivery method are working to ensure that it is "done right," Washington said. "We feel that there is design-build delivery out there that is being done wrong" in some cases, she said.

Many speakers acknowledged the growing interest in the project-delivery method. "In my mind, we have passed the tipping point," said Stephen Gates, senior vice president of Brown and Caldwell. "Design-build is not alternative any more. It's mainstream."

Still, there can be growing pains, according to various speakers and attendees. Sometimes personnel from the owner may be new to design-build and need guidance on how best to move forward. Others may choose to be more prescriptive in their specifications, which stifles innovation and places more risk on the owner, said John Giachino, director of business development for PC Construction and chairman of DBIA's water- wastewater committee. "Performance-based specifications can allow for greater innovation, less risk on the owners and an opportunity to get the best project at the best cost," he said.