In any project, conditions of satisfaction are a critical component of the contract because they provide an unchanging definition of success. When a project lacks this, the contract can mean different things to different people, or even different things to the same person at a different time.

One common definition provides the entire project team with a goal and informs design decisions early on in the process.

At the outset of the UHS Henderson Hospital project, which is currently nearing the end of its construction phase and is a part of the in-progress Union Village health village in Henderson, Nev., the signing partners of its multi-trade agreement contract worked together to determine what criteria would be used to make decisions and ultimately determine how success would be achieved.

This team included the owners, engineers, architects, and general contractors from Southland Industries, Turner Construction, SR Construction, Berg Electric, Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers, Anning Johnson, Excel Engineering, Design Studio Blue, HMC Architects, and Universal Health Services.

Over several months, trade partners met with key members of additional UHS-owned hospital teams in Las Vegas to discuss in detail what was viewed as important when the project was complete. For example, the mechanical engineer spent time with the facilities director of UHS Corporate Regional to provide consistency with previous UHS hospitals and to help inform the HVAC design for Henderson Hospital.

During this time, each team member identified what it thought would be of most value and how success would be defined until the entire team came to a consensus on each condition of satisfaction (COS). A detailed definition of each COS and a measurement for achievement accompanied these seven conditions:

1.       Create new industry standard for Las Vegas.

2.       Be the number one customer to all stakeholders.

3.       Showcase the “wow” factor.

4.       Make one or more improvements each day.

5.       Tell a good story.

6.       Deliver the project for $165 million and by October 2016.

7.       Design, build, and operate a Lean, efficient facility that allows for flexibility, productivity, and delivery of quality services that improve the patient and family experience.

Because the design process is so fluent and continuously evolving, it’s important to utilize the COS for developing the design. In the case of Henderson Hospital, energy efficiency was an important measurement built directly into the contract in the form of a committed Energy Star score and requirement for LEED certification. Both of these conditions involved an energy-efficient design that the team might not have had the incentive to carry out otherwise. For example, energy recovery units were a significant investment for the hospital, though their return on investment was less than six years. Ultimately, the units would help the team reach the goals listed in the COS and, therefore, were included in the final design.

When developing the COS, it’s also important to include a way to measure each objective. In the case of energy efficiency, in order to standardize what defined success, the team aimed for an Energy Star rating of 90, providing a universal, measurable goal for the design.

A defined COS is a worthy aspect of any project that should be invested in early in the process. It can help inform design and construction, showcase good practices, and define success for an entire team.


Matt Carroll is a design engineer with Southland Industries (Las Vegas). He can be reached at

For other blogs in this series, see the following:

·         Union Village: Introducing a First

·         Union Village: Engaging A City