Approximately 75% of Sydney residents live in apartment buildings. These vertical villages account for close to 40% of the area’s total water usage, 10% of its greenhouse gas emissions and around 50% of residential waste in Sydney. Did you know that your building could produce cost savings up to $60,000 on energy and water bills with simple, cost effective measures?
On 24 August 2016, the City of Sydney launched the next phase of its Smart Green Apartments program. The City of Sydney has been working with executive committees, building managers and strata managers of thirty buildings in order to develop this 2-phase program that will provide tailored energy, water and water assessments to identify cost-effective improvements and upgrades in common areas, as well as access to an online system to monitor your building’s energy and water use.
Depending on the size of the block, up to 60% of a building’s energy use can come from common property and equipment. On average, energy savings of up to 30% were identified across the buildings in the trial program, potentially reducing carbon outputs by one third. Further areas of energy savings include:
- Lighting retrofits, including controls and sensors;
- Efficiency upgrades to pool heating systems and covers;
- Variable speed drives on pumps and fans;
- Grid connected solar photovoltaic.
In deciding which changes to implement first, most apartments looked for the most immediate return on investment, with common area lighting usually being the first change made (in many cases, these had a payback period of two years or less).
Almost 90% of the water consumed in each building occurs within apartments themselves, rather than on common property. Showers account for close to 40% and baths, toilets, bathroom basins and leaks are collectively responsible for another 30% of total water use. A lack of individual water metering in apartments means there’s very little incentive for residents to use less. The Smart Green Apartments program combats these issues and has potential to highlight water cost reductions such as: the installation of more water-efficient showerheads, promoting water-wise practices and the installation of sub-metering in order to determine higher use areas.
If you’re reading this article, you’re more than likely thinking “but to what extent does it actually work?”.
- Aria Apartments, a 15-storey apartment building in Waterloo, is now saving $61,000 each year as a result of lighting upgrades, adjusting timers on car park exhaust fans and the addition of recycling collection points.
- Cleveland Mews, a 66-unit apartment building in Redfern is now saving 82% in power use through lighting upgrades and installing heat pumps for the swimming pool and spa, all as a result of the trial program ran by the City of Sydney.
Ensuring apartment buildings maintain environmental sustainability makes perfect financial sense for owners corporations: in addition to the potentially significant savings on strata levies, with rising energy and water costs, environmentally-efficient buildings will be in increasing demand from prospective buyers and tenants. Best of all? Participation in the program is entirely free.
In order to apply for the Smart Green Apartments program, your building must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Strata or Company Title residential building
- Located in the City of Sydney Local Government Area
- Minimum of 6 storeys or 50 apartments
- A minuted resolution from the Executive Committee to apply for the program must be submitted with your application
Applications to join the 2016 Smart Green Apartments program will close at 5pm Wednesday 28 September 2016, with successful applicants being announced 12 October 2016. Find the application forms here.
Download a copy of the program flyer to take to your next executive committee meeting here.
For further information, visit the links below:
The information contained in this article is not legal advice. This article is intended to provide general information in summary form only. You should not rely on the content of this article as legal advice If you would advice specific to you and your situation, please contact us.