Innovation is key on the new $36.8-million Toyota Elephant Passage, a sustainable project at the Denver Zoo that will use renewable energy, recycled water, natural daylight and ventilation, efficient heating and cooling systems, and other green design and construction practices.

The exhibit will house Asian elephants, Indian rhinos, Malayan tapirs, clouded leopards, white checked gibbons, and several other Asian species. The site uses a biomass gasification system that will turn human trash and animal waste into energy. The gasification system will convert 98% of the waste stream into 85% of the usable energy needed to power the exhibit. In addition, the 10-acre project features a million gallons of water in a closed-loop filtration system to increase efficiency by using recycled water provided by Denver Water.

Kiewit Building Group,, Omaha, Neb., is leading the project team and using technology as a way to improve efficiency and save costs compared to traditional LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) administration methods.

Continuing the innovation, Greengrade’s LEED Management Software,, Des Moines, a division of Textura Corp.,, Deerfield, Ill., is being used on the Toyota Elephant Passage project.

Greengrade provides collaborative Web-based LEED management software that allows project teams to communicate, track, and manage LEED project information. It is designed for use by architects, engineers, contractors, owners, developers, sustainability consultants, and more. The technology integrates with LEED Online for easy LEED submission.

The Toyota Elephant Passage project team plans to submit for Gold or Platinum LEED certification this year and the exhibit is expected to open in late spring 2012.