Building Innovation Hub Logo

Step 5. Bid the Job

Send your proposal to the right vendors.

How to do it

There are two commonly used tools to solicit and evaluate potential vendors for your project:

  • Request for Proposals (RFP). An RFP is a document that outlines the requirements for your specific project. Use the RFP process to solicit bids from vendors and identify which vendor might be the best qualified to complete the project. Click here to request our sample RFP template and solicitation documentation checklist.
  • Request for Quotes (RFQ). An RFQ is an abbreviated version of the RFP that is also used to vet potential vendors. RFQs, however, are less detailed with respect to project design and implementation and more focused on organizational experience and background. They are commonly used for smaller projects.

Why do it

  • An RFP clearly states your project priorities and clarifies expectations and outcomes for the project for both your company and the vendors.
  • Receiving at least three bids from contractors helps you accurately compare costs, approach, services, timeline, etc.
  • Answers to an RFP provide information to help you assess contractor experience and qualifications.
  • The process may also reveal different strategies you had not considered previously.
  • You can have higher confidence your chosen contractor is aligned with your goals and is the best fit from available options.

Key decision: project delivery method

To write an RFP or RFQ, you need to define your scope of work and decide what type(s) of services you need. These include:

  • Single-vendor service contract. Solicited through an RFQ, these contracts are usually for small-scale projects that are less complicated or focused on a single improvement measure, such as lighting replacement or roofing repairs.
  • General contractor contract. General contractors, solicited through an RFP, implement larger construction projects and engage the various trades needed to undertake multi-measure projects. These projects require a closer assessment to ensure that subcontractors are reputable and will provide the desired end result.
  • Pay for performance contract. These contracts pay after satisfactory completion of construction outcomes—generally defined as meeting energy consumption and savings targets. This method ensures the work meets the designated performance standard.
  • Energy Service Company (ESCO) contract. ESCOs and other full-service energy companies are often used for larger, complex, or specialized whole-building projects and provide a guaranteed energy savings.

Key decision: managing equal access to information

A fair procurement process attempts to give all bidders an equal playing field. A key part of this is ensuring that whatever one vendor knows, all vendors know. This is usually addressed by inviting all bidders to any live conversations and recording them, and by ensuring all vendors see the responses you have for any question submitted by another vendor. By providing the same information to all vendors, you contribute to a fair and transparent procurement process.

Equity & inclusion

  • Go beyond your immediate circles to look for potential vendors. Note that asking peers for their contractor recommendations is helpful, but may contribute to inequities if your peers have limited diversity in their contractors.
  • Be explicit in your RFP about your requirements and commitment to diversity and inclusion in your procurement process. Examples include:
    • Your RFP should specifically indicate “A Notice of Intent to Award” to diverse firms with recommended wording such as, “All bidder/proposers shall make every reasonable effort to utilize certified-diverse vendors for the work/services of the Solicitations.”
    • Require bidders to submit Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) subcontractor/business utilization plan.
    • Require bidders to show evidence of “good-faith efforts” to solicit diverse firms as part of their bid strategy. This is especially important if they do not have a diverse team.
    • Identify reporting and tracking requirements to measure the results of these efforts.

Where to advertise

  • Publish it on your company website
  • Announce through local, relevant trade and professional associations
  • Distribute via the Building Innovation Hub’s Find-a-Vendor Service

Where to find qualified vendors

Depending on your scope of work, use the following to locate potential qualified vendors.


Finding qualified vendors for your project

linkedin facebook twitter

Questions or Feedback?