The Role of Value Engineering in Environmental Graphic Design
by Harry Spetnagel, Gensler and John Souter, Accent Signage Systems
The design and construction process is in the midst of fundamental change, and because a substantial proportion of EGD work takes place within the framework of a larger design and construction process, it is important to understand the point of view of the stakeholders involved. The role of environmental graphic designers and fabricators in this dynamic environment is to build the constructs by which our clients can make informed decisions as they relate to value and cost. In order to understand how best to achieve this, we need to look closely at a process known as value engineering (VE).
VE is a systematic method to improve the "value" of goods, products, or services by examining function. Value, as defined, is the ratio of function to cost, therefore value can be increased by either improving the function or reducing the cost. It is a primary tenet of value engineering that basic functions be preserved and not be reduced as a consequence of pursuing only cost improvements. While we can all argue the subtle nuance and semantics of this definition, perhaps we can all agree that this process is tied to the intrinsic relationship between “Value/Function” and Cost.
Sustainability is another aspect that needs to be considered. Increased focus on efficient and responsible use of resources and energy is driving us all to be more informed in our designs and the methods and processes used in fabrication. SEGD’s Green Paper outlines several ways EGD designers and fabricators can engage in more sustainable practices; fabricators are becoming more focused on material efficiency, modularity, recyclability, and reducing the power consumption of their manufacturing processes. All of these functions have a direct correlation to value and cost and are therefore an essential part of the Value Engineering process.