In construction, going green can also mean to go lean. While the idea of lean has been around for some time, its uptake in construction has been limited at best. However, the emergence of some technology tools could transform the process.

As defined by the Lean Construction Institute, www.leanconstruction.org, Arlington, Va., lean design and construction is a production management-based approach to project delivery. Applied to project design and delivery, lean can potentially impact the way in which work is done throughout the delivery process. According to the institute, lean construction extends from the objectives of a lean production system—maximize value and minimize waste—to specific techniques, and applies them in a new project delivery process.

Technology aimed at controlling and aiding this process of lean in construction is beginning to emerge. One such option comes from a company named ourPlan, www.our-plan.com, Redwood City, Calif. The company’s ourPlan product is a lean construction planning application that supports the Last Planner System for optimizing short-interval planning on commercial design and construction projects.

Designed to provide last planners with a technology tool to manage the largest construction projects, the product was developed in close cooperation with a leading general contractor. Today, according to the company, the product has been used on more than 60 construction projects worth in excess of $2 billion.

Among the basics of the product, ourPlan is a visual planning and scheduling application that captures short-interval design and construction activities and is used by construction teams who coordinate and sequence the work for the coming weeks and days. From there, the tool automatically tracks PPC (plan percent complete) and includes built-in reports that help users chart their performance. According to the company, this technology can be a nice augment to scheduling tools already being used throughout the industry.

While lean has transformed industries like manufacturing, it is still an evolving concept for construction. The idea has been around in this industry for a while, but has not truly taken hold. However, could the emergence of new technology tools designed to support the lean process help accelerate its adoption in the space? It will be an interesting trend to watch.