Cefpi Arcticle~Paperless Bid Services: How Can Planners Benefit?


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Article written for Council of Educational Facility Planners International ~In the wake of heightened environmental consciousness, paperless bid services are being adopted by school districts in different parts of the country. The author says that by using new technological developments in this area, school districts will save valuable time and money.

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Cefpi Arcticle~Paperless Bid Services: How Can Planners Benefit?

  1. 1. TECHNOLOGY____________________________________________________________________________________________________Paperless Bid Services:How Can Planners Benefit?By Kelly Lawrence MaupinIn the wake of heightened environmental consciousness, paperless bid services are being adopted by schooldistricts in different parts of the country. The author says that by using new technological developments in thisarea, school districts could save time and money.W hen the Federal 1997-98, first with CD distribution paperless distribution for their Government adopted and finally with Internet-based members. Both McGraw Hill and Reed paperless bid distribution distribution. The Corps became Construction Data, two majorin 1997 it was seen as a committed convinced to adopt the model when it businesses in this sector, closed orstep towards reducing paper waste. calculated that in the first full year of consolidated their nationwide physicalHow has paperless bid distribution their pilot paperless bid distribution plan rooms and improved their onlineevolved since then and what benefits program, the reduction achieved a plans and specs subscription services.have been provided to those who use stack of paper that exceeded the They began scanning existing printeda paperless method, besides the height of the Washington Monument! documents for distribution usingobvious reduction in paper waste? electronic formats. Soon, major growthWhat is the environmental impact of Evolution of New Technology was driven by demand for electronicusing this paper bid distribution Speeds Up The Process services from recipients and mostmethod and are there downsides to service providers included at leastconverting to a green paperless bid • Commercial Plan Rooms & some form of electronic distribution indistribution method? Local Builders Exchanges soon their product offerings. The launch of Interestingly, several individuals offered their own versions of Internet websites and softwareinvolved in educational facilitiesplanning, acting independently in Example of Paper-Based Bid Distribution Processwidely different locations of thecountry, played a significant role in Project Ownersproving-out the technologicalinnovation that closes the critical gap Architectin an end-to-end electronic highwayused for document distribution in thebidding of construction projects. In Print Shopthe process, they becameenvironmental stewards eager to shed Plan Room General Contractor Sub-Contractor Suppliera wasteful habit of unnecessary paperconsumption. Example of Electronic Bid Distribution ProcessThe Evolution of Paperless Bidding The trend towards paperless biddistribution has been a progression Project Owner/that has taken several years and Architectnumerous increments to arrive. Itsbenefits are now demonstrated by World Wide Webthousands of users throughout the US.Early Adopters •Plan Room • Federal Government •General Contractor •Sub-ContractorAgencies like the US Army Corps of •SupplierEngineers and US Air Force adopted •Print Shoppaperless bid distribution as early as •Etc. . . Educational Facility Planner / Volume 43: Issue 1 2 Reprinted with permission from CEFPI - Publisher
  2. 2. Statistical Environmental Impact of Paper Usageimprovements including electronictakeoff and estimating; coupled with Paper production is one of the world’s largest consumers and polluters of fresh waterincremental increases in PC If the United States cut office paper use by just 10% it would prevent the emission of 1.6processing power, storage capacities million tons of greenhouse gases -- the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road.and communications speeds soon Forests store 50% of the worlds terrestrial carbon and are very important carbon dioxideoffered different options to distribute sinks that hold onto pollution that would otherwise lead to global warming.documents. Half the worlds forests have already been cleared or burned, and 80% of whats left hasCommercial Market Still Remains been seriously degraded.Paper-Friendly 42% of the industrial wood harvest is used to make paper.• Even though the paperless The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions amongmovement derived its original United States manufacturing industries, and contributes 9% of the manufacturing sectors carbon emissions.momentum from major federalagencies, the commercial market has software that was closely integrated green facility. The environmentalnot substantially moved beyond paper with a Web site allowing design impact of an inefficient paper-basedas its main source of bid documents. professionals or project owners to process cannot be ignored. The averageToday, over 80 percent of distribute electronic bid packages that cost of paper bid distribution is aboutcommercial projects in the US still are freely accessible by anyone. The one percent of the value of theare distributed via paper because site also functioned as a construction project, and includesalthough printing of paper documents clearinghouse from which existing faxing, scanning, shipping/courier, and(that were originally produced commercial re-distributors may of course... printing.electronically) only to scan them back obtain projects for listing on their According to the U.S. Censusinto an electronic form for own sites. By creating this single Bureau News, May 1, 2008, “Duringdistribution, is obviously very point of control for the document the first 3 months of this year,inefficient and wasteful, it is a originator, the service makes it even construction spending amounted toproblem that has not been easy to more convenient than paper for them $241.6 billion”. This means that in thesolve. to issue a bid and in the process it first quarter of 2008 that almost two During 2002-03 the Louisiana eliminates paper entirely. and a half billion dollars was spent oncomponent of the American Institute the business of distributing primarilyof Architects (AIA), a non-profit Is Paper Being Wasted? paper bid packages. With the averageprofessional association, undertook a There are still many local bid package weighing in at around 20study of its member’s document planrooms and print shops that lbs and the average 30 bid packagesdistribution practices. This study continue to scan paper plans from distributed per project, that’sclearly revealed that their architects architects and owners. Obtaining the approximately 600 lbs. of paper perhad come to rely on print shops to paper plans means printing them first project. And while most of us candistribute documents to as many as 30 (ironically, from their electronic agree that $2.5 billion is a lot ofor more different plan rooms and source program) then shipping them, money, the far-reaching, negativeselect local contractors in the course sometimes clear across the country, environmental impact of the paperof a bid. A similar service simply did which with the rising cost of fuel and industry is of greater importance.not exist for electronic distribution the subsequent environmental impact, The Environmental Paperand the absence of a suitable is not desirable. Shipping companies, Network, an alliance of environmentalelectronic method, by default, meant such as FedEx have created whole groups that aims to minimize paperthat paper distribution continued to be industries based in part on the consumption, published an onlinethe norm. shipment of these documents report with startling statistics (see Sensing that they had a unique worldwide. This leaves a very big insert).opportunity to advance a solution that footprint that with todays access towould benefit their industry, the AIA computers and the Internet can easily • Over half of the worlds’ forestscomponent went on to raise funds be avoided. have already been cleared and burnedfrom its membership to create a Individuals who pride and 80 percent of what’s left is seriousnational Internet service to themselves on LEED certification degraded.specifically address the issue, which should also focus on how they can • 42 percent of the industrialwas developed and put into use. The include a paperless distribution wood harvest is used to make paper.key technology that this service offers service in the process of creating theirincluded electronic bid creation Educational Facility Planner / Volume 43: Issue 1 3 Reprinted with permission from CEFPI - Publisher
  3. 3. • The paper industry is the 4thlargest contributor of greenhouse gas Recent Case Studiesand by cutting office paper StruXture Architects, a 24 member firm in Iowa specializes in pre-schoolconsumption by just 10 percent could through university level design in the Upper Midwest. Geof Grimes, AIA,prevent emissions of 1.6 million tons REFP (and Principal at StruXture) took an early lead incorporatingof greenhouse gases. electronic document distribution services in bidding their design projects. He explains, "We first looked at a way to save paper as we were throwing Source: Environmental Paper away a number of plan sets after the bid award. By using a digitalNetwork document distribution provider, we reduced the number of printed sets by two-thirds, and we got even wider distribution of our bid documents. The method is wonderful for suppliers as it eliminates that added cost inUsing the Green Bid Methodology postage to send out paper sets and they can access the information The green bid methodology is immediately. Owners love this method as it is less expensive, yet there isusable by any school district no reduction in the number of bids they receive.” Besides, “We are able toregardless of location. As evidenced instantaneously send out addenda to the project which saves time andby the experiences of these money and again significantly reduces paper, our original goal."educational planners it doesnt matter Rick Dallman, Director of Facilities and Maintenance for the South Westif your school or college is in the Region School District in Alaska, recently utilized this method commented:remotest part of Alaska, the heartland “We would have expected to pay $20,000 – $25,000 providing paper sets. Posting electronically saved about $16,000.” Not only did the district saveof America, the most southern parish on their printing costs but the rural school project in Alaska had anof Louisiana or an inner city school in awarded bid that was more than $4 million below budget due to theNew York; free national access to the competitive bid environment provided by an open Internet site, where allproject plans and specifications to all interested parties from across the nation were able to freely access the bidinterested parties means you will get documents.greater participation with guaranteed Thus, paperless documentation services offer:more competitive bids, including • A green approach that has minimal environmental impactsuppliers of the specialty items you • The ability to reach a wider audience, no geographical boundariesare looking for to build a healthy, safe • Substantial cost savings with reduced printingand green facility. • Full control of bid processYou Need Resolve to Adopt AGreener Workflow Process to receive electronic documents, over downloaded the project files, who has There are a few hurdles 80 percent of commercial projects in added their company to the primeregarding using a paperless bid the US are still distributed via paper. bidders list, who has received thedistribution service, whether it is With the final key technology now addenda via download, and all of thischanging an internal workflow available that completes the trend information is readily accessible 24/7process or overcoming a small towards full paperless, electronic bid with real time statistics.technology learning curve. However, distribution, there is no longer any _______________________________there is really only ONE major need to print or scan documents. Kelly Lawrence Maupin, is vice-roadblock to adopting a more Today, the design professional president of MaxView Corporation, aenvironmentally friendly green bid creates his/her plans and specs Seattle-based electronic biddistribution method and it involves electronically (as most already do), distribution and estimating software.ones own internal resolve. How do then instead of printing out paper bid She is also vice-president of AEPlans,you stop smoking, quit biting your sets for pick up by a local print shop an electronic clearinghouse for projectnails, lose that extra weight that is who will then scan the documents and bid documents. She has spoken atadversely affecting your health? Any print and ship them to a plan holders Federal, State, and local municipalitieschange of habit comes from within, list, the architect will create his as well as regional AIA conferencesyour own desire to change, to commit electronic bid package and manage regarding the processes of paperlessto taking whatever steps are necessary the whole project upload process bid distribution.to achieve the goal. To commit to directly from his workstation in hisusing a different, more efficient, more office and distribute the plans and The service and methodologyenvironmentally friendly bidding specs electronically via the Internet. discussed in this article is providedprocess, you need the resolve to He or she will then have the ability to by AEPlans Ltd, and is commendedovercome any issues that arise. track their own project bid response by various AIA Components around Even though current available with access to project statistic reports the nation.technology provides for the recipients over the Internet to see who hasAEPlans Ltd 5208 South 2nd Ave, Everett, WA 98203 · Tel: (800) 220-1298· Fax: (425) 423-0568 Educational Facility Planner / Volume 43: Issue 1 4 Reprinted with permission from CEFPI - Publisher