Integrated Early Design Assistance takeaways

In early 2019, Energy Trust of Oregon rolled out a new limited offering for EPS New Construction participants: Integrated Early Design Assistance (iEDA). This offering, now complete, expanded on the Early Design Assistance meeting concept to provide comprehensive support at various critical points during the design stage. This article captures key lessons learned from the iEDA offering, with tips for builders looking to replicate the integrated design process for their own projects.

Lesson 1: Meeting throughout the design process was valuable for builders, especially when exploring new design approaches.
To align on key design elements and maintain regular communication between trades, project teams convened for the following meetings as part of iEDA:

  • Site planning meeting (Future Ready only): A meeting between the builder and solar teams to discuss design considerations and identify lot layout, landscape features, roof line design and orientation options that could affect total solar resource.
  • Early Design Assistance meeting: The comprehensive project team assembles to discuss HVAC and domestic hot water systems, envelope features, iEDA requirements and builder goals.
  • Value engineering: A meeting to confirm and finalize energy efficiency measures in the homes, discuss opportunities to reduce cost and surface potential sequencing challenges.
  • Construction kick-off: An on-site meeting with subcontractors to review changes in home designs, discuss iEDA requirements, review verifier inspections, identify any training needs and sequencing challenges to ensure trades will be successful.

Lesson 2: Program verifiers play a crucial role to bring members of the project team together.
Participating builders relied heavily on their verifiers to plan discussion topics in advance of each meeting, to make document decisions and to prepare energy models to inform on cost effective measures. Verifiers are in a position to help project teams early, then later in the building process, because they advise on energy efficiency approaches upfront then verify them as built conditions in homes.

Lesson 3: Project teams surfaced more sequencing and design questions than anticipated, saving the need for change orders down the road.
As an example, the iEDA meetings presented an opportunity for a builder to confirm home systems early in the design process. Knowledge of the future home energy load enabled the solar contractor to correctly size the solar system for the home. If a builder were to change the space or water heating system from electric to gas, then the solar contractor must revise the solar bid for that home.

While iEDA is no longer an active offering, builders can still leverage the standard Early Design Assistance $500 incentive to convene meetings with their project teams. Builders can also claim a further $500 when the meeting includes a solar trade ally. To learn more, visit the EPS overview page on INSIDER and scroll down to Early Design Assistance or email