Value Insights   with Timothy Buckley, AIA, VMA, LEED AP

The importance of an independent value analysis team in alternative delivery K-12 school design projects.


In recent years there has been a shift in the way many projects are being delivered at K-12 school


districts throughout the Northwest. More districts are exploring alternative delivery methods like General Contractor/Construction Manager (GC/CM), Design-Build and Progressive Design-Build to help accommodate the demands of fast-tracked, complex, and multi-phased projects. The successful delivery of a new school is of vital concern to all stakeholders within a district, and the need to deliver these projects on time and on budget are as important as ever.

While State law (WAC 392-343-080 & 392-344-065) requires that a Value Engineering (VE) study be conducted on all major construction projects that receive state funding, there is often an assumption that the contractor can “take care of VE” by managing construction costs alone. This is one of the most common misconceptions about VE – that it is just about lowering costs. While construction costs are one factor that is analyzed, a more beneficial VE process is one which follows a rigorous process and focuses on identifying opportunities that improve long-term value and are in the best interest of the owner. These may include a building’s functionality, performance, life cycle costs, reducing maintenance and operation costs, project risk reduction, and overall project quality and success.

As more and more projects utilize alternative delivery processes, integrating the expertise of an experienced VE team is highly beneficial to the success of the project and is a valuable tool when combined with the skills and knowledge of the GC/CM.

As an example, MENG Analysis was hired in 2016 by Central Kitsap School District (CKSD) to provide value engineering, constructability and building commissioning services for four major school construction projects from their 2016 Capital Bond. These included the replacements of Central Kitsap High School and Central Kitsap Middle School with Skanska as the GC/CM, as well as a modernization and addition of Olympic High School with Korsmo Construction as the GC/CM.


For Olympic High School, the project involves the complex and sensitive replacement of the central 1/3 core of the existing school, while adding a library and larger theater. The schedule and budget were tight, and construction activities occurred on an occupied site with school functions to be maintained throughout construction. The VE study team included four key members of Korsmo Construction’s project team,  along with MENG Analysis’ multidisciplinary team of independent professionals.


One of the key members of the team was William Floyd, an Estimator with Korsmo. “Being a part of the study helped us to identify the major project risks we as a contractor were facing/about to face & put a plan in place early on to mitigate those risk,” Floyd said. “On this particular project, we were essentially doing open heart surgery on the school, all while it was still operational, which created a lot of inherent risk.  Having Kormso, the architect, the engineers, and outside consultants in the room all together early on proved key in identifying risk factors, as well as coming up with unique solutions to mitigate them.”

“Having the contractor on board early helps us to better identify the real function of the building, the owner’s wants and needs, and the ultimate goals of the project.  This allows us as a contractor to shape our process from the start to meet and ultimately exceed the project goals and expectations.”

Integrating members of the GC/CM’s team into each of the CKSD VE studies allowed for the generation of design and construction alternatives that addressed potential improvements such as construction phasing, schedule, site safety, stormwater systems, structural framing, and various first and life cycle cost savings. These types of ideas provide increased value by delivering a project that meets  the district’s project goals and design standards, while also being fiscally responsible in regards to total cost of ownership.


Even on projects using alternative delivery methods, having a VE team who is truly independent from the design/construction team provides significant benefits through objective insights and the introduction of new design ideas and alternatives — all while including the contractor in the process and eliminating even the appearance of any potential conflicts of interests.

Keys to VE Success

  • Focus on Function, resources, and quality.

  • Professionally licensed, multidisciplinary VE study teams with SAVE International certified team leadership.

  • Develop solutions that align with standards, and educational learning environment goals.