Another housing estate in Western Australia is set to trial a solar plus storage system – this time in a unique shared strata setting that benefits both tenants and investors by reducing grid energy consumption by 60 per cent for the development as a whole, and by 100 per cent in its homes.
Launched on Wednesday, the White Gum Valley estate trial – to be built by Landcorp as part of the WA government’s Gen Y Demonstration Housing Project – will include solar PV installed on all of the mostly north-facing homes, coupled with domestic battery storage technology and embedded energy efficiency measures.
As well as serving as a “living laboratory” – the development is part of a four year research project by the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living and Curtin University to monitor energy use and technology performance and identify areas for improved efficiency – the estate will trial a “shared strata” system developed by Curtin University, Landcorp and the CSIRO to benefit both investors and tenants.
Under the model, the solar power and battery storage system are owner-managed by the strata manager. When an investor rents out an apartment, the tenant pays their electricity bill to the strata, which is used to offset the strata costs.
“This is an Australian first and I’m only aware of one other project in Italy which has actually done this,” Curtin University sustainability specialist Jemma Green told ABC Online. “The solar panels and the batteries sit on the strata and are owner-managed by the strata manager.
“It provides [investors] with an additional revenue stream, so if an investor buys an apartment and rents it out, the tenant will pay their electricity bill to the strata, which will offset the strata costs and provide a justification for the capital investment.”
The project – the second such trial to be announced in WA in the past few months – reflects the emergence of a new approach by property developers to the way that residential communities source energy, including not being connected to the grid.
Last week, the developers of the Alkimos Beach project in Perth’s northern suburbs announced the selection of local group Energy Made Clean to supply the 1.1MHh battery system for the sustainable community development led by WA electricity generator and retailer, Synergy, in partnership with property developers Lendlease and Landcorp.
The White Gum Valley experiment will also require homes in the community to install solar hot water systems or heat pumps. Other energy efficiency measures will include climate responsive design and landscaping, energy efficient appliances and lighting, and low energy space heating and cooling systems.
The estate also aims to reduce mains water consumption by 70 per cent using community bore and stormwater irrigation, rainwater harvesting and climate-appropriate plantings.
The Gen Y Demonstration Housing Project is the result of the Western Australian government’s 2013 design competition inviting young local architects to submit design concepts for a unique and sustainable residential dwelling which encapsulated the Gen Y lifestyle. The winning design, by Fremantle-based architect David Barr, focused on tackling the challenge of affordable living.
This article was first published at RenewEconomy.