Energy efficiency - Strata managers get smart

Mid year Urban Melbourne published an article by Councillor Arron Wood, Chair of the Environment portfolio and Deputy Chair of the Economic Development portfolio for the City of Melbourne. In the article Councilor Wood highlighted City of Melbourne's growing population which of course was fueling the increase in higher density living.

As a by-product the article noted the following and what the Government-backed Smart Blocks program could do to counter these trends:

We also know that residential mid and high-rise buildings are energy intensive, currently contributing 13% of carbon emissions in the city.

Improving the efficiency of apartment buildings is therefore an important component of Melbourne’s Zero Net Emissions by 2020 strategy (February 2014).

Councillor Aaron Wood
Energy efficiency - Strata managers get smart

Some months later and Urban Melbourne has spoken to Smart Blocks and we endorse what the Government-funded outfit is seeking to achieve. In order to better understand the aim of the program, this time with strata managers in focus, Smart Blocks provided the following commentary:

Strata managers are seeing the value of upgrading the energy efficiency of their buildings, with some impressive results. Private residential and commercial buildings have a smorgasbord of schemes and incentives to make energy efficiency improvements.

But until recently, strata buildings languished in the too-hard basket. With the tangled interests of owners, investors and tenants all under the same roof — and a complex strata environment to navigate — the options were limited. At last that’s all changed with Smart Blocks' free program which is jam packed with advice and tools to help managers and owners make their buildings energy efficient.

As energy prices soar, local councils are getting on board too, offering advice, support and impressive rebates. Strata managers are increasingly finding Smart Blocks is a valuable addition to their offering. Many are working to tune up all the buildings in their portfolios.

Melbourne-based property management group The Knight Alliance sees Smart Blocks’ tools as providing vital market differentiation. “To say ‘We are Smart Blocks managers’ shows we’re progressive and proactive,” says the company's Gregor Evans.

As all buildings are different, the program has developed toolkits so managers can audit each building to quickly determine the feasibility and impact of different projects. Smart Blocks has also streamlined the process of getting projects started. Templates — from drafting a motion of intent to developing a business case for proposed projects — guide managers through each step along the way.

Smart Blocks can also connect buildings to rebates and incentives, so projects are cost-effective and have impressive financial benefits. The Knight Alliance is currently looking into working with Smart Blocks to provide training for all of their property managers. This will give managers the ability to easily audit buildings and develop energy saving strategies.

Property manager Alvin Diamond from Property Professionals sees Smart Blocks as a natural extension of his business. He sees introducing energy-saving measures as a no-brainer. In fact, all of his buildings are on the path to becoming Smart Blocks. ​

  • Make Smart Blocks a core part of your strata management. It’s free, flexible and the financial benefits are impressive.
  • Start with quick wins. Switching to LED lighting is easy and pays for itself, so do it first. Look out for motion sensor-triggered lights so they’re not on 24/7, to save even more.
  • To get owners corporations on side, put together a clear business case for investment in each energy efficiency project, with data on financial benefits and payback periods.
  • Try negotiating with energy retailers to see if you can get a better deal for your buildings.
  • Look into solar systems further down the track, so you can see the successive benefit of completed energy saving projects and get the right sized system for the building’s reduced needs.

Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.


Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.