Two iconic buildings in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD have made the switch to solar in record-setting fashion, installing the largest solar system ever retrofitted to a Melbourne apartment block and the highest commercial solar system in Australia.
The latter, a 59.4kW system installed at 101 Collins St – Australia’s fourth tallest skyscraper (56 storeys) and home to some of the world’s most prominent financial institutions – will be used to offset the cooling of the building’s tenant condenser water system.
“This solar installation is a continuation of the long term strategy of Eureka Funds Management to reduce the carbon footprint of the assets we manage on behalf of our investors,” said Eureka’s Brett Dillonin a statement on Wednesday.
“Since 2008, base building energy use at 101 Collins Street has reduced from 12,000,000 kWh/annum to just 6,700,000 kWh/annum – a drop of 44 per cent”.”
According to Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, the 180 330W panels were installed vertically to maximise energy from the sun while taking up minimal roof space.
Installed at a height of 195 metres, the panels will generate 47,000kWh of electricity per year and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 59 tonnes a year – equivalent to the annual electricity usage of more than 12 residential homes.
The other inner city project – a 50kW PV system installed by the owners of 149 apartments in the historic Hero Building in nearby Russell Street – will be used to power the lighting and ventilation systems in the common areas of the 60 year old building.
Originally, the nine storey building housed a telephone exchange and postal hall. In 1999 it was converted into a 14 storey building housing a variety of boutique apartments with retail at the ground and basement level by renowned Melbourne architect, Nonda Katsalidis.
Tricia Caswell, resident and member of the Hero Owners Corporation Committee said the solar panels – installed by local business, Envirogroup – would be paid off in around eight years and would generate ongoing savings for tenants’ electricity bills.
“We’re all proud to live in a boutique building, but now we have the feel good factor that comes from doing something good for the environment as well. We see installing solar as an investment in the value of the whole building.”
According to Melbourne City Council, the $103,857 Russell St system was partially funded through the sale of $34,188 of small scale technology certificates (STC’s), a $3000 rebate from the council’s Smart Blocks initiative and financing of $30,000 from the Sustainable Melbourne Fund.
The $230,000 101 Collins St system was also partially funded by council, with a $4000 rebate through the City of Melbourne’s Commercial Solar Rebate Program.
“Our goal for carbon neutrality is for the whole municipality so we applaud the commitment being shown by management and tenants of 101 Collins Street and we hope that other building owners follow their lead,” said Councillor Arron Wood, chair of the City of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio.
“There are 58,000 dwellings in the municipality covered by strata schemes and more than 1.5 million square meters of commercial strata titled property. Residents and businesses within these properties can access 100 per cent finance for environmental upgrades through the Sustainable Melbourne Fund,” said Cr Arron Wood.
Lord Mayor Doyle added that the two installations, and particularly the system at 101 Collins, represented a new frontier in the switch to solar.
“The owners have united and demonstrated that you can install solar on buildings of all shapes and sizes, including historic buildings,” he said.
Over the last year, the City of Melbourne has facilitated the installation of 415.12kW of solar on apartment buildings, single-family dwellings and commercial buildings across the municipality.
The council, along with the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also provides a free service for businesses to assess their solar potential and to compare quotes to install a system on their premises.