In an industry that is always changing, it’s important to stay current with the latest trends. One place to do that is the Global Design Alliance (GDA) Fall Symposium which brings together an international network of design, planning and construction firms who are working to create “better together”. Petra had the honor to participate at their latest event in Minneapolis, MN on September 10th – 13th.

Topics discussed ranged from: gender parity, ethnic and racial diversity, local resources & talent and “green practices”.

Jerry McPhail, Petra’s Vice President of Operations, shares his key takeaways and how they have will have direct impact on Petra and beyond:

Design and Construction Firm Integration Takeaways

Led by a panel discussion, GDA meeting participants self-identified levels of both vertical and service integration within their firms and debated the benefits and challenges of both. Vertical integration represents supply chain integration, such as providing design, construction, operation within one firm, while service integration represents multiple services provided within one firm, but only at one level of the supply chain, such as architecture, structural engineering and mechanical, electrical or plumbing engineering.  The key finding is that while it appears that firm integration will likely continue to be a trend, but it will not be the driving force in the industry. That means that the primary focus will be on process integration, rather than vertically integrating internally. Process integrations present their own challenges, such as ownership of information and liability issues.

Firms will need to maximize flexibility and adaptability with strategically aligned partners to be resilient in the future. Total vertical integration create can greatly limit a firm’s flexibility to adapt. As a firm that has strong service integration, but is flat on the vertical scale, Petra will need to continue to focus on being strategic in our approach in how we adapt to future client needs, which includes developing strong relationships with strategic partners to deliver on unique client requirements and create opportunities for further integration as needs arise.

Climate Change Takeaways

At the Fall Symposium this year, there were many powerfully eye-opening presentations and discussions around climate change as this is an issue on everyone’s mind. There is a strong desire to make impactful change, but there is a lack of comfort in discussing and knowing where to start. It is evident that the seriousness of the climate issue is going to require an unprecedented social, political, and corporate effort to turn the corner on and drive positive change.

The A/E/C industry has the ability and responsibility to influence major change in this area as buildings contribute a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. In our role as Owner’s Representatives, Petra and others in the industry, have the ability to engage with clients very early in the planning process. This will be key to putting environmental sustainability education at the forefront of decision making by hospitals. It is evident that there is also a need to place more focus on evaluating lessons learned as well as collecting and using data from completed projects to document ROIs for sustainable design. Through better education and utilizing data early in the planning process, we can empower clients to make better informed decisions and create better buildings for our planet.

At Petra, we’re all about creating better — for our clients and the patients we ultimately all serve. Our team of experts ensures your next facility project meets tomorrow’s healthcare needs by delivering holistic, innovative solutions with the benefits of long-term sustainability and flexibility for the future.

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