by The Navy Yard
July 13, 2021
Partnership has Committed $7.5 Million to 21 Certified Minority and Women, Design & Engineering Firms to Lift Off $1B Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Pledge
Ensemble Real Estate Investments and Mosaic Development Partners (Ensemble/Mosaic) today announced it has launched its ambitious Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) program at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the bedrock of its plan to develop 109 acres of the campus.
“We believe our $2.6B ESG initiative to be one of the most significant commitments by any developer for any development in our country,” said Kam Babaoff, Co-Founder and Chairman of Ensemble Real Estate Solutions & Investments. “And, as part of this ambitious plan, we are committing $1B to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives – again, likely the largest pledge ever in our industry. Dedication to ESG, and specifically the DEI principals within it, will drive lasting positive change in this city because it will be built by Philadelphians for Philadelphians.”
PIDC, Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation and master developer of the Navy Yard, and Ensemble/Mosaic are partnering on the 2022 Philadelphia Navy Yard Plan Update. Ensemble/Mosaic will invest the $2.6 billion of development in the 1200-acre campus over the next two decades. The venture anticipates breaking ground on its first buildings – among them 1201 Normandy Place – in the fourth quarter of 2021.
A cornerstone of this ESG program is the partnership’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy.
“PIDC set the tone for DEI in their request for proposal, and we felt inspired to create a plan with great scope and depth,” said Leslie Smallwood-Lewis, Principal of Mosaic, a minority-owned business enterprise. “Our DEI commitment will provide meaningful equity and capacity-building contracting opportunities for minority, women, veteran and disabled-owned business enterprises (MWVDBE) over the next two decades and we are excited to help create lasting change.”
Ensemble/Mosaic began deploying this strategy in the initial phase of development through the hiring of 20 local and national MWVDBE design and engineering firms such as Moody Nolan – the largest African American architecture firm in the nation and the “2021 AIA Firm of the Year”, Kelly Maiello and Rodriguez Consulting. Those commitments, representing approximately 50% ($7.5M) of the total allocation for design, have been made since the partnership was awarded the development rights by PIDC less than four months ago.
ESG Criteria as the North Star
ESG is a set of criteria created by an organization to guide socially responsible decisions. It includes environmental sustainability, such as impact on climate change or carbon footprint, recycling and water management; social impact through diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and organizational values; and governance, including partnership diversity, the auditing of DEI initiatives and representation on boards and committees.
“From the moment we committed to answering the request for proposal from PIDC, ESG has been our north star,” said Greg Reaves, Principal of Mosaic. “Every decision we make, from design to development to neighborhood creation is through the lens of our ESG strategy.”
After the naval base closure in 1996, the City of Philadelphia, PIDC and its partners envisioned the redevelopment of the space into a thriving mixed-use campus, restoring it as an economic engine for the city. Over the last two decades, the Navy Yard has successfully attracted 150 businesses employing more than 15,000 personnel to the site with new development planned to further its position as one of Philadelphia’s most unique business campuses and evolving neighborhoods.
Through its development agreement with PIDC, Ensemble/Mosaic will redevelop 109 acres of land through renovation and ground-up construction. The 20-year project includes the creation of additional office, laboratories and clean spaces, retail, restaurants and hotels, and residential buildings, parks, greenways and amenities.
“The Navy Yard has reestablished itself as a successful platform for job creation with a focus on innovation, production, and sustainability, and I commend PIDC and Ensemble/Mosaic on their shared vision and alignment of goals, which will further spur equitable growth in Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “This unparalleled commitment to ESG sets the new standard for socially responsible, inclusive development in Philadelphia while providing countless benefits for Philadelphians for years to come.”
Bringing Meaningful, Measurable Change
Ensemble and Mosaic formed a partnership with the objective of focusing on redeveloping the Navy Yard by creating opportunities for diverse participants in every aspect of development.
To illustrate, Babaoff and Reaves broke down some of the many ESG-focused programs in motion or development, with a particular focus on DEI, such as:
- Minority, Women, Veteran and Disabled-Owned Businesses Enterprises will equitably participate in every phase of the development cycle (design, construction and operations) at some of the highest levels ever achieved for a project of this size and scale. (See chart)
- Minority Equity Investment ensures up-to-20% of the equity investment will be provided by minorities and minority-owned firms.
- A Community Investment Platform will offer the opportunity for local low-and-moderate-income individuals to invest, through crowdfunding, collectively up to 5% of the equity in each project.
- A Charitable Foundation, initially funded by a $1M commitment by Ensemble/Mosaic with continued funding from a percentage of the project’s net cash flow, will actively support and promote the development and economic empowerment of minorities and women.
- An ongoing commitment to providing Housing Affordability for 15% of all residential units.
- A minimum of a 35% Diverse Workforce during the construction of buildings with minority, female, veteran and disabled workforce.
- A commitment to a minimum of 50% Local Workforce during construction from the Greater Philadelphia region.
- MWVDBE Retail Opportunities by providing a minimum of 25% of all retail to firms with subsidized lease terms.
- Internship program with local universities will bring opportunities to minority and female students in the Delaware Valley.
“The Navy Yard continues to be an economic engine for our region, and we are now focused on creating even more meaningful change. Ensemble/Mosaic is dedicating tremendous energy, time and financial commitment with its investment directed toward minority, women, disabled and veteran-owned companies,” said Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, who represents the Navy Yard within the Second District. “This $1B pledge and each individual commitment will make an enormous difference to companies and individuals over the next 20 years.”
Pushing the Boundaries of Sustainability
“There is a long history of leadership around sustainability at the Philadelphia Navy Yard – from pilot programs for stormwater and autonomous shuttles to an 8MW peak-shaving battery back-up and Pennsylvania’s first community solar project, just to name a few,” said Kate McNamara, PIDC’s Senior Vice President, Navy Yard. “The campus already contains more than a dozen LEED certified buildings ranging from Certified to Double Platinum, and Ensemble/Mosaic’s commitment to sustainable development and management will continue to set the pace in our region and across the nation.”
Each Ensemble/Mosaic development project will be designed to achieve a LEED Silver or higher standard, demonstrably saving energy, water and other natural resources for the city and its residents. To carry these goals further, Ensemble/Mosaic has assembled a team of progressive design leaders, placemaking idea generators, and transportation futurists to create Philadelphia’s first LEED Certified Neighborhood Development at the Navy Yard.
LEED Neighborhood (LEED-ND) Development is a program engineered to inspire and help create better, more sustainable, well-connected neighborhoods, looking beyond the scale of buildings to consider entire communities. The Navy Yard will be one of the first of its kind designed with this new approach.
“One of the first things that really struck us as we went through the selection process for a development partner was Ensemble/Mosaic’s shared passion for the creation of an intentional and inclusive economic opportunity initiatives plan,” added McNamara. “We are excited that Ensemble/Mosaic quickly launched this plan concurrent with its development projects. This fresh approach will support the Navy Yard’s growth and positively impact generations of Philadelphia residents and businesses.”
Appendix 1: List of 21 MWVDBE Firms (alphabetized)
These firms are currently participating and are included in the $7.5M commitments in process.
Appendix 2: MWBE Representation Chart