Lend Lease to Reduce Military-Housing Energy Use

New York--Lend Lease launches a program to decrease energy use by 20 percent at its 65.3 million square-foot Military Housing Privatization Initiative portfolio.

Soaring Heights at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

New York–Lend Lease (US) Public Partnerships, a leading developer of public and private communities, has long been a proponent of sustainable development, and now the company is taking its mission to a new level with the launching of a program to decrease energy use by a minimum 20 percent at its 65.3 million square-foot Military Housing Privatization Initiative portfolio. Lend Lease is pursuing the greening of the portfolio, which encompasses approximately 40,000 residences, as a participant in the Better Buildings Challenge, a national leadership initiative that is part of President Obama’s goal of making commercial properties in the United States 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020.

Lend Lease had been tossing around ideas for a comprehensive energy-reduction program for the military housing properties it develops and operates on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense, so Obama’s initiative–announced as part of the president’s budget proposal in his State of the Union address in February of this year–came to the fore right on time. By jumping aboard, the developer will have the opportunity to work with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop best practices for energy efficiency within a group of 10 Lend Lease mixed-use residential communities across the United States. In addition to single-family, duplex, triplex and fourplex homes, the communities feature an aggregate 19 office buildings and 19 community centers.

“The program allows us to work more broadly and report back to the Department of Energy,” Krista Sprenger, vice president and director of Sustainability & Projects, Americas with Lend Lease, tells MHN. “We like to set big goals and to be transparent. We want our project to serve as not only a case study, but also as best practices to benefit other builders and developers. We’re not competing with other builders, so if we can help others it benefits us all. We want to build best practices for those outside the gates.”

Island Palm Communities at U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii

An assessment of energy consumption at the properties is currently underway, which will pave the road for execution of what will be a massive retrofitting project. “We will use a three-phase approach to get us to 20 percent reduction,” Sprenger says. “First, we will look at the built environment.” Much can be achieved through the use of such products as energy-efficient lighting, low-E windows and enhanced insulation. According to the Department of Energy, space heating and cooling in residential buildings account for 54 percent of site energy consumption.

“But we’re not just looking at the built environment; we’ll need to offset it with renewables–photovoltaic panels, geothermal heat pumps, solar energy,” she adds. Lend Lease is already leading the charge in the solar-energy arena. “We have the two largest solar-powered communities in the nation, and they are two of the largest in the world.” Island Palm Communities at U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii and Soaring Heights at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona are the two destinations that hold the coveted green titles. Additionally, Lend Lease’s Atlantic Marine Corps Communities at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina is the largest solar thermal-powered residential community project in the United States.

There will be no cookie-cutter format for the changes that will be made at each location. “They’re going to be dependent on the housing type and when the housing was built,” Sprenger explains. “We have to figure out what are the higher best uses. We have houses in practically every climate possible, and we have 30 generic types, and we think there will prove to be more. All of the military branches built housing differently before housing was privatized.” As for the age of the homes, 800 are historic units. “We can’t change the structures, but it presents a good opportunity if we can crack the challenge and create a pilot plan.”

The third segment of Lend Lease’s energy-reduction endeavor involves an element that cannot be purchased from a manufacturer or constructed at a warehouse; it involves people. “We will have a significant consumption and reduction program to teach residents how to use energy more efficiently, so the program is contributing on a much larger scale,” she notes.

Lend Lease plans to identify a showcase retrofit project for the Better Buildings Challenge in September, as the government initiative calls for participants to make the selection within three months of signing the partner agreement. “Sustainability underpins what we do, and it has since we were established in 1973, so it’s great to see people catching up.”

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