What does it mean to ‘go green’ in the construction industry? For most, it means building a structure that meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. While this can be a grand, and sometimes challenging, goal, some contractors are taking the concept of ‘green’ to a whole new level.

One such construction company is West Hills Construction, www.whc.us.com, Anaheim, Calif., a builder of commercial, industrial, and high-end residential facilities. The company has its own LEED-certified energy division—specifically created to help develop and deliver new and innovative methods for managing energy. Examples include small-scale power generation technologies such as wind turbines; energy-efficiency factors that come into play when a structure is being built; and investment grade energy audits that evaluate conditions of a building.

Of particular interest in the area of building automation are energy-management solutions to control facilities and reduce loads on building systems. West Hills Construction provides services for owners that operate and maintain systems using energy-management software.

One example of a project is the McKinley Children’s Center—a non-profit center with services for special education, mental health services, foster care, adoptions, and residential care. The center recently completed a solar construction project for a campus in San Dimas, Calif. The project was designed to optimize land use, with installation of the solar system in three separate locations including an unused portion of the property adjacent to the highway.

Safety for the children and energy savings—resulting ultimately in cost savings—were the biggest factors driving this project. The solar system will offset most of the center’s energy use, allowing resources to be directed toward other programs in the school.

West Hills Construction will operate and maintain the solar system using energy-management software. With the ISIS (Intelligent Solar Information System) from GreenVolts, www.greenvolts.com, Fremont, Calif., West Hills will be able to monitor and control the solar panels from the Web.

While this is just one example of ‘going green’ in construction, technology can be used in a myriad of ways from energy modeling in early preconception phases, to using software for LEED documentation and tracking during construction, among many others.

The upcoming May/June issue of Constructech magazine will highlight case studies about how contractors are using technology to construct green buildings and executive point of views about what green means to the industry. Do you have a story you would like to share or a product you would like to showcase in this issue? Contact Constructech with ideas.