Lend Lease has broken ground on its latest project for the US Army, which will see the construction giant develop a 207-room hotel for US service members, their families and the US government.
The project is the first to break ground since the US Army Corps of Engineers mandated a new policy requiring a “mass timber structural option be considered at the design phase in all of its vertical construction projects going forward.”
The project, known as the Candlewood Suites hotel, will be located at Fort Liberty in North Carolina, one of the world’s largest military bases and will open in 2026.
For more than a decade, Lendlease and IHG have had a long and successful relationship with the Fort Liberty leadership team through the Privatised Army Lodging (PAL) program,” according to Matt Garrett from Lendlease Communities.
Last month, Wood Central reported that the US Department of Defense had facilitated the construction of five medium-size CLT buildings totalling over 100,000 square metres – identifying that mass timber was the sweet spot for mid-rise military housing projects.
As the US Army’s Privatised Army Lodging (PAL) program partner, Lend Lease has been responsible for developing four hotel developments for the PAL using CLT and acknowledged the material’s “maximised strength and durability characteristics were ideal for this project.”
According to Mr Garrett, the site’s security requirements and physical constraints meant “CLT was the only structural system to meet installation-specific design specifications.
“Our experience using CLT on previous hotel projects gave us the confidence that it was the right choice for Fort Liberty Candlewood Suites in terms of decarbonisation and force protection outcomes.”
Published last month, the US Army Corps of Engineers policy requires “all US Army MILCON and Civil Works vertical construction projects to consider at least one option where mass timber is a substantial structural component when comparing structural systems during early design.”
The new policy applies to all new projects starting from 2027, including “cross-laminated timber (CLT), glue-laminated timber (Glulam or GLT), dowel-laminated timber (DLT), nail-laminated timber (NLT), and laminated veneer lumber (LVL).”
It represents a significant milestone for low-carbon construction materials, with the market for MILCON (the US Military Construction Program) enormous.
In September, US Congress approved more than US $16.674 billion in MILCON spending – split between military construction ($14.73b) and family housing ($1.94b), with more than US $1.47B in spending allocated for the US Army Corps of Engineers.
According to Robert Moser, Senior Scientific Technical Manager for the ERDC, “the US Army Corps of Engineers is leaning in to further advance its long-standing efforts in high-performance and sustainable buildings with a focus on low embodied carbon construction materials.”
“This includes reducing the global warming potential of construction materials such as concrete, steel, and asphalt along with an emphasis on bio-based building materials like mass timber.”
The pivot to climate comes as the Biden Administration introduces new legislation mandating that ‘accounting for ecosystem services’ be considered in all US Government cost-benefit decisions.