21 August 2013 — Baenziger Coles, an architecture and interior design company, is making an annual financial saving of $2655, and an annual energy and CO2 saving of 18,400 kiloWatt hours/26,030 kilogram Co2 equivalent, after installing a solar panel system.
The company, which joined tenant energy efficiency program CitySwitch in May 2012, was keen to further demonstrate a commitment to sustainable design, renewable energy and to lower operational costs to complement a recent office upgrade and various capital investments to improve energy efficiency.
The CitySwitch green offices program has proved popular around the country with 431 offices and 375 signatories on the books. It recently received a two-year Energy Efficiency Information Grant of $1 million from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, which will focus on small to medium enterprises in regional areas of Australia.
The cities of Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne already support the program.
- See our story about the program’s expansion: CitySwitch wins major funding to go regional
CitySwitch program manager Jeff Elliot said following an installation of a solar panel system for a residential client, Baenziger Coles directors were inspired to carry out a similar, larger-scale system at their commercial office at City Road in South Melbourne.
Baenziger Coles director Sue Coles said the company viewed environmentally sustainable design as integral to its design philosophy and embrace sustainability as a given.
“Importantly, we develop viable, realistic and affordable initiatives that not only deliver real value, but empower our clients to embrace a similar philosophy,” she said.
Solar energy generation
Mr Elliot said given the orientation and positioning of the office roof, solar panels were the obvious energy generation solution.
“To choose the most suitable system, Baenziger Coles engaged a solar supplier and installer who had both good credentials and a solid knowledge of the technical options available and government incentives and rebates on offer.”
Deciding on a solar system
Baenziger Coles installed a 5 kiloWatt Solar Charge Grid Connected System at a total cost of $23,800.
“Key influencing factors for choosing this type of system included the meeting of tenancy power needs (to minimise exported power), the option to access a government rebate (systems must be less than 100 kilowatts in size), the amount of space available on the roof, along with equipment and installation costs,” Mr Elliot said.
“The chosen SunnyBoy solar system produces around 6200 kWh per year, which covers about 25 per cent of Baenziger Coles’ annual electricity usage.”
Mr Elliot said having the opportunity to apply for the Victorian Solar Feed-In Tariff scheme helped Baenziger Coles determine a reasonable return on investment period for this project.
Feed-in tariffs provide people producing their own renewable energy with a financial return for the excess power they feed into the grid. As a “Net” metered business, the following applied:
- Excess electricity generated by their solar PV system is exported directly to the electricity grid
- Exported electricity is calculated at the rate specified under the Victorian Solar Feed-In Tariff Scheme ($0.60 per kWh and valid till 2024).
Other sustainability activities
“Following on from the solar panel installation, Baenziger Coles continues to look at opportunities for improved energy efficiency including rainwater harvesting and replacement of heating systems with more cost and energy effective systems,” Mr Elliot said.
“As a final step, the company is researching green power options.”
Joined CitySwitch – May 2012
Tenancy size – 521 square metres
NABERS commitment rating – Four and a half stars
Website – www.baenzigercoles.com.au
Annual financial saving – $2655
Annual energy and CO2 saving – 18,400 kiloWatt hours/26,030 kilogram Co2 equivalent
Technology – 5 kW Solar System, floor insulation of 35mm Kingspan K10 Kooltherm board, 10W LED down lights
CitySwitch National New Signatory of Year Finalist 2012
Melbourne Design Award 2012
Measurement of Solar Savings
Solar energy produced and used by Baenziger Coles – 5161 kWh
Solar Buy Back – 966 kWh
Total solar energy production (from installation to end of May 2012) – 6127 kWh
5160.90 kWh x $0.2411 (Energy Australia rates) – $1244.29
966 kWh x $0.60 solar credit rates (ex GST) – $579.60
Total Savings (Solar Buy Back savings plus solar energy consumed) – $1823.89
(The calculation is based on data collected from solar panel meter readouts, electricity meter readouts and information sourced from the Energy Australia Electricity Account.)
CitySwitch is a growing network of business leaders committed to addressing their environmental impact. Details: www.cityswitch.net.au