Discover the four project realisation phases

Practical approaches to realisation phases

The Five Steps to develop BwN alternatives can be applied throughout the project realisation process. Each project phase, however, has its own specific focus. This section briefly addresses each project phase indicating topics that deserve increased attention in relation to Building with Nature Design.Project development, though a cyclic process, generally goes through a number of consecutive phases. Building with Nature Design may be introduced in each project phase in the form of ecologically preferable and more sustainable approaches. The earlier the approach is embraced in the project development process, the greater the potential impact.

Numerous project life cycle descriptions exist. The Building with Nature programme adopts a definition distinguishing the following phases:

Changing opportunities for sustainability inclusion during various project phases

During each phase opportunities for integration of BwN solutions do exist, with maximum potential and flexibility in the earliest stages of development. To optimally ‘seize opportunities’, a life-time analysis is encouraged, considering information on BwN potentials from later phases in earlier phases.

Initiation Phase

Building with Nature Design may be introduced in a project development process as early as the Initiation Phase. The Initiation Phase deals with a first definition of the problem or opportunity at hand and the scoping of potential solutions.

Building with Nature approach: wider and greener scope
System Approach: the BwN approach takes a wider perspective and aims for multiple objectives, i.e. strives for benefits to other functions, such as nature, recreation and other ecosystem-dependent functions. Applying BwN-principles as early as the Initiation Phase will have the largest influence on the end result.
Traditional approach: sectoral, narrow scope
Project Approach: traditionally, the initiation phase is characterized by a sectoral approach, a limited and mono-functional problem perception and a tendency to jump to solutions. Tradition plays an important role. Already in this early stage of development a usually narrow project framework is defined. This can be due to the problem-owner’s/project-initiator’s objectives or limitations, or to authorities biased to certain classes of problems and solutions.

Planning and Design Phase

Where the Initiation Phase focused on the problem definition and project scope, the more detailed Planning and Design Phase deals with developing alternative strategies within this given scope and handles the selection of the preferred alternative(s).

Building with Nature approach: wider and greener scope
The BwN approach focuses on utilising natural processes and stimulating nature development as an integral part of the strategies to be developed. Key questions are what the project can do for nature, as well as what nature can do for the project. Foci of attention are the longer term, incremental development and adaptive management. Financing strategies may be an integral part, as ecosystem services may open doors to potential funding sources.
Traditional approach: sectoral, narrow scope
The Planning and Design Phase aims to develop strategies to achieve the objectives described in the Initiation Phase. Traditionally, strategies focus on solving a narrowly defined problem within a given timeframe. Opportunities for adaptive management, incremental development and nature inclusive designs are seldom considered.

Construction Phase

In previous phases the problem definition, project scope, project strategy and design have been addressed. The construction phase elaborates and discusses the project execution approach. EDD can be used to optimize the work method and the selection of materials.

Building with Nature approach: wider and greener scope
Eco-dynamic projects aim to jointly optimize the cost-effectiveness of a project, its embedding in the natural environment, the use of natural processes and the creation of new opportunities for nature. Careful selection of materials and optimisation of the layout can yield significant advantages. Involvement of stakeholders in this optimization process may help to turn hesitation and opposition into enthusiasm and cooperation. Room for experimentation and adaptive project development and management are important elements.
Traditional approach: sectoral, narrow scope
Traditionally projects are optimized in the construction phase by minimising construction time, costs and risks. Delivering the required functionality within these constraints is considered optimal. Aspects considered are reuse of materials that can reduce construction cost, cost-effective timing of construction activities, functional combinations with other projects, financial constructions, optimizing of operation and maintenance with design aspects. There is a tendency to use proven technologies in order to reduce risks.

Operation and Maintenance Phase

The application of Building with Nature Design is extended as far as the Operation and Maintenance Phase. Considering maintenance aspects early on in the design process may optimize the design and reduce lifecycle cost significantly. But also Operation and Maintenance an BwN approach may lead to forms of adaptive management and development that will generate additional environmental and cost benefits.

Building with Nature approach: wider and greener scope
The BwN approach incorporates the possibility of incremental adaptation to changes in system dynamics, environmental conditions or operation practices. Objectives and functioning are not fixed indefinitely, but leave room to seize new opportunities. Building with Nature does not aim at fixing habitats of a preset number of individuals of a certain species, but rather respects natural system dynamics.
Traditional approach: sectoral, narrow scope
Operation & Maintenance are about keeping the structure of the facility in its original state and functioning as intended. Often traditional approaches lead to regular, more or less identical interventions with little attention for possible adaptive management or incremental development. Such interventions are often more expensive than an incremental approach and they usually have greater environmental impact.