Maria Atkinson

14 July 2011 – Lend Lease yesterday announced agreement with the US military to reduce energy consumption in a huge defence property portfolio of housing and non-residential property by at least 20 per cent in the next two to five year.The deal is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, which falls under US President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge,an energy-efficiencyprogram developed to create jobs, “save money, reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil and make our air cleaner,” a White House media statement said.

Maria Atkinson Lend Lease’s group head of sustainability and head of the sustainability services business, which initiated the deal, said the size of the portfolio was about the same as the size of the Sydney CBD.

It comprises 40,000 homes, 800 historic structures, 19 offices, and 19 community centers, comprising more than 6 million square metres located in 10 communities across the United States.

Lend Lease will provide and manage the portfolio while implementing energy efficiency measures.

Ms Atkinson told The Fifth Estate that the agreement was a major opportunity to understand the motivations of a large number of American families in their energy use and to find what worked to improve their energy efficiency, or “energy security”.

“We will get some good feedback on what are the social feedback loops and this will help us to understand what these communities engage with and what cuts through in the message and gets traction and why,” Ms Atkinson said.

“The first thing we will look at is how we can improve new buildings coming on line, designing and delivering what we can [in terms of energy efficiency] and to refurbish existing buildings. And we will learn from the different geographies.”

Ms Atkinson said the lessons learned could be applied in Australian communities.

“Lend Lease’s participation will create a variety of new job opportunities and allow America’s Military Families to actively participate in our nation’s energy security, ultimately helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” the White House said.

Chief executive officer Lend Lease Americas region Bob McNamara said that working with the United States Departments of Energy and Defense would allow Lend Lease to have a “significant and positive impact” not only on the environment, but also on the more than 140,000 people who live and work in the communities.

“Lend Lease will begin working immediately to assess energy consumption across its communities and will evaluate opportunities to improve efficiencies based on geographic climates and the age and long-term plans for each building type,” Mr McNamara said.

“The company will also seek out new strategies for evaluating the next generation of efficiency opportunities. ”

Lend Lease currently managed the nation’s two largest solar powered communities at Island Palm Communities in Hawaii and Soaring Heights in Arizona, Mr McNamara.

“The Better Buildings Challenge aims to support President Obama’s goal of helping businesses save nearly $40 billion annually in energy costs, enabling them to grow, invest in new technology, and create American jobs. Investing in innovative clean energy technologies that make America’s commercial buildings more efficient will put Americans to work and save money by saving energy.”

– Tina Perinotto

tperinotto@thefifthestate.com.au