Sustainability Targets at Lendlease’s Military Housing Communities
Insights from Alexandra Ewing on the company’s ESG and sustainability strategies.
Lendlease’s Mission Zero includes the ambitious goals of net-zero carbon by 2025 and absolute zero by 2040. Part of that journey to zero is finding ways to divert waste from the landfill, which would also reduce Scope 3 emissions. Last year, Lendlease had extensive renovations set to happen across their portfolio and—in partnership with Rubicon, Rockwood and Mycocycle—they came up with the innovative idea of using mycoremediation on a ton of the roof shingles that were being removed at their Fort Campbell Army installation in Kentucky and would have gone to the landfill.
This procedure stands for remediation using mycelium, which is a network of fungal threads a bit like the roots of mushrooms. The pilot resulted in a block-like byproduct, but the end goal is to create a usable byproduct that could act as a replacement for virgin materials when creating new building products. Lendlease is open to continuing this work by means of suitable partnerships, but they are also looking for alternatives to landfilling, to find circular solutions. Alexandra Ewing, sustainability manager at Lendlease, shared the latest about these efforts with Multi-Housing News.
Lendlease’s military installation started last year by using the Fitwel for Communities rating system. What prompted you to begin enrolling your military portfolio in this program and how are things a year later?
Ewing: Lendlease piloted the Fitwel Community rating system at Horizon Uptown, our master-planned community in Colorado. We were the first to create and use this scorecard, which focuses on aspects of our living environment that don’t always get noticed because they are somewhat in the background. Together though, they add up to a group of key elements that can make or break our spaces.
We knew that undertaking a benchmarking exercise for our military portfolio could help us highlight the things that we are already doing well and where there are greater opportunities to create even healthier, safer and more connected communities. At the end of the day, everything we do is focused on creating communities where families work, live and thrive, places focused on equity, health, safety, mental and physical wellness, and equal access for the benefit of our customers.
A year later, we are working to incorporate Fitwel strategies into our strategic plans across the portfolio to include our military housing communities. We plan to add things like community and restorative gardens, and green spaces—to create more livable, connected communities for our residents.
Sustainability-wise, which are last year’s highlights at Lendlease’s military housing division?
Ewing: We completed the Fitwel benchmarking and are incorporating strategies highlighted as opportunities for our communities into our strategic plans. We also piloted electric landscaping equipment and are beginning the process of electrifying our fleet, including completing a study on the infrastructure needs for the EV transition. In addition, we have taken every opportunity to transition to electric equipment at the end of equipment life or during renovations.
We are also creating new partnerships to continue research into circular solutions for construction and demolition waste.
When addressing ESG practices for the military component of Lendlease’s portfolio, which challenges caused the most trouble and how did you overcome them?
Ewing: One major challenge is that, as we work to decarbonize, the necessary movement toward electrification poses challenges to infrastructure. This challenge requires a concerted effort between corporations, utilities and the government, given the pressure on infrastructure and the grid.
We are always looking for opportunities where there are multiple benefits that cross environmental and social sustainability. One example is a pilot we undertook at three of our installations to reduce emissions from our landscaping equipment that serves our communities. We worked with our main landscaping contractor, Mainscape, to test out electric mowers and handheld equipment, and understand the efficiency and ability to charge the equipment. In addition to lower emissions, the teams found that these mowers are quieter and benefit the overall productivity and wellness of both our workers and residents.
What goals have you set up for the military portfolio from a sustainability standpoint?
Ewing: Goals include continuing to incorporate Fitwel strategies into our existing and future housing, increasing our overall energy efficiency with energy conservation measures and energy-efficient equipment and systems, reducing potable water use where possible, continuing to create partnerships to find new ways to address waste, finding new opportunities for solar across the portfolio, and building out our strategy to transition our fleets to all-electric over time.
Which of the three components of ESG is most vital in military housing?
Ewing: All three are important and intersect with each other in many ways. As an example, promoting walkable communities through elements such as sidewalks and walking trails can decrease carbon emissions related to automobile travel, but also increases physical and mental wellness as well as social interactions among residents and the resiliency of that community.
On a more global level, Lendlease focuses on ESG as a whole, within our military housing portfolio, and across the company. The way the company is managed, how we hold ourselves accountable, and how we engage with our stakeholders are critical.
Our environmental sustainability goals are net-zero by 2025 and absolute zero by 2040, and this informs much of the work that we do. We also have an ambitious social sustainability goal, creating $250 million in social value by 2025. We are well on our way to achieving that goal.
What is Lendlease’s strategy to achieve all these ambitious objectives?
Ewing: Many of our strategies will be familiar to other companies. This includes phasing out the use of diesel and gas in direct operations, focusing on embodied carbon—which makes up around 11 percent of the world’s emissions—and transitioning to renewable energy sources. While Lendlease has been on a sustainability journey since its inception, these targets have us refocusing on the electrification of our new homes and ways to procure or produce renewable energy to reduce emissions while continuing to look for energy-efficient systems and equipment.