Over the next five years, Lend Lease, an international property management group, has committed to reducing the energy consumption of its military housing portfolio in the United States by at least 20% as part of its participation in the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Challenge.
The Challenge is a component of the Better Buildings Initiative that President Obama unveiled during his State of the Union message last February. The initiative’s three primary goals are to improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings by 20% by 2020, reduce companies’ and business owners’ energy bills by $40 billion per year, and create new incentives to spur private-sector action.
While the initiative focuses on commercial buildings, it complements other government programs that are in the process of retrofitting 600,000 residential homes for improved energy efficiency. In its analysis of the initiative, Architecture 2030—a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates reducing the building sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by changing how buildings and developments are planned, designed, and constructed—estimates that it will create at least 300,000 new jobs in the U.S., and generate $16.4 billion in new private spending and $3.6 billion in new federal tax revenue.
Lend Lease, whose U.S. headquarters are in New York, is one of 14 companies that the administration chose to participate in the initial launch of the challenge. A few years ago, Lend Lease and the Department of the Navy formed a limited liability company that, over a 50-year period, will develop, build, renovate, finance, and manage a portfolio of buildings on military bases. That portfolio currently consists of approximately 40,000 homes, 800 historic structures, 19 offices, and 19 community centers, totaling 65.3 million square feet of real estate.
About 12,000 of those houses were built in the past few years to either Energy Star or LEED-H standards, says Krista Sprenger, Lend Lease’s director of sustainability. However, another 20,000 units that the government turned over to Lend Lease are much older, and many of these could need extensive retrofitting to meet performance levels that can hit Lend Lease’s energy consumption reduction targets. (Sprenger tells Builder that some of the homes are in such bad condition that they will be torn down and rebuilt. However, she’s quick to note, “We’re not interested in becoming production builders.”)
Lend Lease will also put together a program that provides 140,000 people who live and/or work in its military housing with tips on how to conserve energy. Sprenger notes that “phantom energy” consumption by appliances and electronic devices accounts for around 17% of military housing’s total electricity use, compared to between 5% and 10% for a typical residential home.
Sprenger is holding off on making projections about job creation and costs related to this effort until Lend Lease completes its assessment of its military housing portfolio. (Some capital could be available for the retrofits and rebuilds through one of six “financial allies” that the government brought in for the challenge.)
The Pittsburgh-based Ibacos is conducting the energy audits. Speaking from Hawaii on Thursday, where his team is assessing one of Lend Lease’s communities, Duncan Prahl, Ibacos’ research architect, told Builder that Lend Lease manages communities at 19 different military installations around the country. So far Ibacos has done “preliminary fact-finding” at bases in North and South Carolina. He expects the assessment process to be completed by early next year.
John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.