Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC, a subsidiary of Balfour Beatty Capital Group, Inc. and a leading Public-Private Partnership (PPP) developer and property management company for military family housing, announced it has been selected for a Smart Grid Data Access Award from the Department of Energy (DOE) through its property management division, Balfour Beatty Military Housing Management LLC. The award will help fund a new Switch 4 Good program, an initiative aimed at helping residents in military family housing better manage their energy use by providing them with high tech smart meter information and three distinct, personalized sets of conservation tools.
Historically, military families living on-base were not responsible for utility costs, resulting in higher than average energy consumption overall. In recent years, each branch of service has started to work with their housing privatization partners, like Balfour Beatty Communities, to enact utility programs that transfer some responsibility for utility costs to residents and encourage them to reduce energy consumption. Those utility cost savings will be reinvested back into the military housing projects for additional renovations, amenities and other improvements.
The Switch 4 Good program will capitalize on an upcoming transition on 11 Department of Navy installations in the Southeast region where military families living on-base will become responsible for a portion of their energy consumption. The program will leverage this transition as a pilot to determine which of three resident engagement strategies will maximize Navy families’ energy savings. The three groups will include: baseline management by house type, digital outreach campaigns and personal energy use coaching. The most successful program will be considered for expansion throughout Balfour Beatty Communities’ privatized military housing locations across the United States.
“The Switch 4 Good program is the first and largest program of its kind that leverages real-time data and several behavior change initiatives simultaneously. It’s an exciting opportunity to investigate energy consumption changes resulting from increased access to personalized energy information,” said Tabitha Crawford, SVP sustainability and innovation for Balfour Beatty Capital Group. “We are looking forward to piloting this program with our Navy residents and using the results to reduce energy consumption at all of our installations. The results from our study will also be important for utilities and municipalities across North America to help meet carbon reduction strategies.”
Silicon Valley-based WattzOn Inc., the personal energy management platform that helps people save money and energy, will provide energy consumption expertise and software for the pilot program. WattzOn’s initial program with Balfour Beatty Communities proved particularly impactful, yielding an 18% average energy savings across 40 homes. Yardi will serve as the Switch 4 Good program smart technology provider, having recently acquired ista North America’s Multifamily Services Group (MSG), a leading supplier of energy and water metering, billing and management services. Yardi is one of the largest providers of energy management services in the U.S., serving more than 700,000 apartment units.
According to Balfour Beatty Communities’ President, Chris Williams, “We believe truly sustainable communities must consistently find ways to reduce risks and improve resident satisfaction. While we are so pleased to have the DOE’s matching financial contribution for this project, we feel it is important to invest our own time and resources in developing innovative ways to conserve energy. What we learn today can be used to improve other communities tomorrow.”
For more information on the DOE’s Smart Grid, visit http://energy.gov/gc/services/smartgrid-information.