22 May 2014 — The City of Melbourne has announced it will reimburse half the cost of solar panels and LED lighting upgrades in common areas of apartment buildings, up to the value of $3000.
The rebates are part of the Smart Blocks program, a national initiative designed to help apartment owners work with owners corporations and building managers to reduce and energy costs and carbon emissions.
- See our article Smart Blocks creating impetus for energy upgrades
Eighty per cent of the City’s dwellings are apartments, and with the population predicted to double by 2031, tacking apartment energy efficiency is critical to meeting carbon neutral goals.
City of Melbourne Environment Portfolio chair and councillor Arron Wood said energy efficient buildings also helped to reduce owners’ corporation fees and attract better tenants.
“All energy savings translate to cost savings for apartment owners and as power bills rise, energy-efficient buildings will also be better investments,” Mr Wood said.
The City cited studies showing that both mid and high rise apartment buildings consumed 25 per cent more energy than detached dwellings, with almost half of energy consumption happening in common areas.
However, there was the potential for apartment blocks to reduce energy consumption by up to 30 per cent through measures with 3-5 year paybacks.
Apartment owner Tim Esmonde helped his owners committee retrofit a seven-storey Parkville building with LED lighting and sensors in 2012.
The retrofit cost $6500 but saves $2000 a year in electricity bills, and will pay itself off in just over three years. It has also reduced the building’s carbon emissions by 50 per cent.
Esmonde says the owners plan to use the Smart Blocks rebate to add solar panels to the building.