Building Lean

Lean isn’t just for manufacturing any more. Lean principles – management strategies that optimize workflow, staff involvement, team decision-making, and the use of the best-available tools to minimize waste – have always been part of the Barton Malow construction protocol.

Focus on Waste Reduction

Lean strategies reduce waste by eliminating overproduction and excess inventory; by removing downtime, unnecessary steps in the production process, and impediments to efficient workflow; by raising product quality; and by streamlining transportation of materials. Regardless of project type or delivery method, the Lean approach lowers cost, risk, and uncertainty; expedites project delivery; and minimizes change.

At Barton Malow, we’ve developed specific ways to apply these principles, such that the team is focused on solutions, not problems. For instance,

  • A fully integrated design-phase team, including subcontractors
  • Continuous estimating and value engineering
  • Streamlining the submittal review and approval process
  • Defining and communicating procedures to reduce rework
  • Employing advanced technologies, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and xD scheduling and estimating


On the General Motors (Michigan) V6 Engine Facility project, the entire design/engineering/construction team worked together at Barton Malow headquarters, speeding the exchange of ideas and streamlining production. The use of BIM reduced interferences in the field and improved construction sequencing and coordination. These Lean strategies helped bring the project in five weeks early and limit change orders to less than 0.5% of the total contract value. Ghafari and Ideal Contracting were our project partners.

Benefits of Lean

Lean construction principles drive cost reduction while improving building quality. Project team members operate with clear responsibilities and accountability, in an empowered environment based on open and continuous exchange of information. In other words, Lean thinking leads to an abundance of rewards.

Marisa Varga, CPSM, LEED AP

“When other little girls were tying bows in their hair, I was putting on a hard hat. Barton Malow has provided the opportunity to work in many roles, including estimating and project development. The hard hat is still one of my favorite fashion accessories and spending time on the jobsite with our skilled trades is one of my favorite things - the talent and dedication of our team inspires me everyday.”