The United States has invested heavily in water and wastewater infrastructure projects to address growing demand and aging systems. To ensure the effective delivery of these projects, agencies are shifting toward alternative delivery methods such as progressive design build (PDB), which has demonstrated accelerated schedule and enhanced cost performance across the literature as well as multiple projects compared to traditional DB. This has raised a need for evaluating PDB's state of adoption and performance in the water and wastewater sector. To this end, the authors: (1) conducted descriptive and statistical analyses of the 21 PDB water and wastewater projects available on the Design-Build Institute of America database evaluating their characteristics and performance metrics; (2) investigated the frequency of materialized risks impacting schedule and cost in these projects; and finally (3) identified the key adoption drivers and challenges for PDB in the water and wastewater sector by triangulating findings from the studied narratives with a literature and practice review. Results revealed that 71% and 57% of the investigated projects were completed on or before the contracted schedules and costs, respectively. From the studied project narratives, owner-led changes and COVID-19 impacts were the most frequently encountered risks. Also, it was shown that project planning and risk management drivers were the most influential causes for PDB adoption, whereas legal and contractual restrictions as well as the owner's mindset and culture-related concerns were the most pressing challenges. This study contributes to the body of knowledge by delivering managerial insights through an aggregated snapshot of PDB implementation in the water and wastewater sector. Ultimately, the provided managerial insights can assist stakeholders in making better-informed decisions by weighing the advantages and challenges of PDB identified in this research against more traditional delivery approaches.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Alternative project delivery; Progressive design build (PDB); Water and wastewater infrastructure

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1943-7862; 0733-9364

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2023 American Society of Civil Engineers, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2024