The Environment+Energy Leader honoree program is an annual list that recognizes the environment and energy “doers” who break trail in creating new solutions, programs, platforms, best practices and products to help their companies – or other companies – achieve greater success in commercial and industrial environment and energy management. Meet the Honorees… is an ongoing series that will feature one E+E Honoree from 2022 each week. See the complete list of 2022 Honorees here.
Meet Megan Saunders, director of sustainability for Lendlease’s Communities business, which is a partnership with the Department of Defense and includes 40,000 homes across 18 military installations and a 13,000-room privatized Army lodging portfolio. “In my role, I create portfolio-level sustainability strategy for both existing homes and new construction in alignment with Lendlease’s global sustainability goals, which include ambitious carbon and social targets,” she says.
What is your biggest energy management challenge, and how are you addressing it?
Megan Saunders: As many companies look to decarbonize, there is a movement toward electrification. Given the pressure that movement places on infrastructure and the grid, it requires a concerted effort between corporations, utilities, and government. As we begin our journey toward electrification, we are looking for opportunities where there are multiple benefits beyond just gas consumption and carbon reduction.
One example is a recent pilot on three of our installations to reduce emissions from landscaping equipment. We are working with our primary landscaping contractor, Mainscape, to test electric mowers and handheld equipment to understand efficiencies and our ability to charge the equipment. In addition to lower emissions, the teams have found that these mowers are quieter, which is an unexpected benefit to the overall productivity and wellness of both our workers and residents. We will continue to track changes in equipment in the marketplace as well as incentives and local and federal policies that will facilitate the switch to electric, as none of us can do it alone.
What is a recent project you’ve worked on that led to a positive result?
MS: Lendlease committed to being a 1.5 degree aligned company, which means net zero carbon (scopes 1 and 2) by 2025 and absolute zero carbon by 2040. We believe our targets are ambitious, and we don’t have all the solutions yet, but we needed to create a plan to turn our commitments into action.
Over the past few months, I led an internal team to set out specific strategies and timeframes for the Communities business to eliminate scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions in alignment with our target milestones. We considered things like the availability of renewable fuel options, renewable energy markets, technology, supply chain, and policy. The result is a roadmap for our business that sets the stage for the actions we need to take to hit our mission zero targets.
What trends do you expect to see in terms of environmental management in the next few years?
MS: I believe there are going to be increased requirements for climate disclosures, as the SEC has signaled. While many companies have integrated mechanisms for understanding climate risk across their assets, the integration into corporate risk and business planning and the resulting costs are less developed. Lendlease was an early adopter of TCFD in 2018 and has demonstrated early leadership in integrating climate risk into business planning and mitigation of risks across our assets.
We align with the Department of Defense’s view of climate change as a national security threat, so understanding the impacts of the changing climate is particularly important given the amount of growth across Lendlease’s portfolio. Given the ever-growing threat of climate change for our communities, I am increasingly passionate about finding solutions that help protect our assets, but more importantly the families who call them home.
Tell us about a favorite hobby, passion or book you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you and your work.
MS: I’m currently reading “Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take,” by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston. The book asks the question, “Is this world better off because your business is in it?” With our mission to create value through places where communities thrive, I believe the work that we do every day at Lendlease supports this outcome, and pushes me to think about ways we can give back more than we take.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MS: I’m proud to be part of this incredible group of leaders who are making the commitment every day to improve our planet and navigate the course of action in the ever-changing landscape of ESG.
Editor’s note: nominations are now open for this year’s E+E Honorees. Nominate a colleague — or yourself — for the 2022 E+E Honorees today.