Historically, families that live in military housing have not been responsible for utility costs. This ultimately drives up average energy consumption levels. But now, thanks to the Smart Grid Data Access Award from the DOE (Dept. of Energy), www.doe.gov, Washington, D.C., soldiers and their families could start to become a model in energy management for the United States.

Balfour Beatty Communities LLC, a subsidiary of Balfour Beatty Capital Group Inc., www.balfourbeattycommunities.com, Newtown Square, Pa., has been selected by the DOE as part of a “Switch 4 Good” program that is aimed at helping residents in military family housing better manage their energy use by providing them with energy-management tools. These tools include smart meters and three personalized sets of conservation tools.

This initiative is designed to enact utility programs that transfer some responsibility for utility costs to residents and encourage them to reduce energy consumption. The cost savings will then be reinvested back into the military housing projects for additional renovations and amenities, as well as other improvements.

The Switch 4 Good program will work in conjunction with an upcoming transition on 11 Dept. of Navy installations in the Southeast region. This transition will act as a pilot to help determine which resident engagement strategies will maximize the overall energy savings for Navy families.

The program will include three groups: baseline management by house type, digital outreach campaigns, and personal energy use coaching. Of the three, the program that garners the most success will be considered for expansion throughout Balfour Beatty Communities’ privatized military housing locations across the United States.

Some leading-edge technology will be leveraged through this program, including a personal energy management platform from WattzOn Inc., www.wattzon.com, Mountain View, Calif. According to Balfour Beatty, an initial program with WattzOn Inc., yielded an 18% average energy savings across 40 homes, which demonstrates considerable success

Energy management service provider Yardi, www.yardi.com, Santa Barbara, Calif., will serve as the Switch 4 Good program smart technology provider. The company recently made an acquisition of energy and water metering, billing and management services, and provides energy management services in the U.S., serving more than 700,000 apartment units.

Tabitha Crawford, senior vice president, sustainability & innovation, Balfour Beatty Capital Group, believes the Switch 4 Good program presents an exciting opportunity in that it leverages realtime data and several behavior change initiatives simultaneously. Such data can help the company realize energy consumption changes that result from increased access to personalized energy information.

Such programs can provide important benchmarking statistics for utilities and municipalities across North America in order to help meet carbon reduction strategies. The use of leading-edge technology is paramount to success, and given the great many options in the market today, the opportunities seem endless.

This is a solid example of how realtime data can provide a strong model for future green construction projects. Whereas in the past, such models could only be predictive in nature, today’s connected technologies provide true realtime results for the future.