Whitepaper Watch: Solving the MEP Coordination Puzzle

Have you ever tried to solve a sliding tile puzzle? There’s a square grid of tiles, with one missing, and your goal is to align all the tiles so they form a picture. The trouble is, every time you get two or three tiles into place, four more are repositioned. Now, imagine how difficult it would be to solve the puzzle when other people are simultaneously moving tiles and you don’t have a complete visual of the overall picture.

This is essentially the same problem faced by design and construction teams on MEP systems. MEP systems have grown increasingly complex, especially for highly technical projects like hospitals and data centers. Poorly coordinated MEP systems are plagued with a very high probability of time-space clashes, waste and inefficiency later down the line, and frustrating and expensive rework to fix unanticipated incompatibilities in field or, even more difficult, after project completion. Currently, for a majority of project teams, the only means for measuring successful MEP coordination is outcome-based; coordination can only be considered successful if there are no problems in the field.

In his doctoral thesis for Stanford University’s department of civil and environmental engineering, DPR’s Atul Khanzode, PhD, lays out a method for using integrated virtual design and construction and lean (IVL) tools to coordinate MEP systems based on his industry experience and careful analysis of four existing projects. Referring to it as the IVL method, Khanzode illustrates a framework for MEP coordination, which recommends using virtual tools such as BIM, bringing together an interdisciplinary team early in the process, and tracking performance metrics that indicate the quality of the coordination process. The framework he suggests uses the three levers of product, organization, and process to guide planning and influence outcomes, providing a repeatable method project teams can adopt to produce more consistent results rather than waiting to find out in the field whether coordination was successful.

Khanzode’s work emerged out of DPR’s close collaboration with Stanford’s Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE). Part of Mission 2030 (to be one of the most admired companies by the year 2030) is to innovate and help push the industry forward to deliver better, more reliable project outcomes, and Khanzode feels that collaborations with organizations like CIFE are a major part of that effort. He stresses that developing and adopting fresh approaches, such as this MEP coordination framework, will also ultimately deliver value for owners. It’s one more piece of the puzzle.

Visit to read Khanzode’s doctoral thesis, “An Integrated, Virtual Design and Construction and Lean (IVL) Method for Coordination of MEP.”