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Two records set as retrospective solar systems power two Melbourne landmarks

The campaign to green building rooftops has been championed in earnest for some time, but Melbourne City Council has taken a different tact of late by encouraging two existing buildings to install considerable solar power systems in a push toward renewable energy.

101 Collins Street as arguably Melbourne's premier commercial address has invested in the highest commercial solar panel system in the country, with a new 59.4kW system placed around the building's lift motor room. At 56 levels and 195 metres above ground the design of the $230,000 system incorporated allowances for wind loads and took some months to complete.

A modest rebate partially funded the overall cost via the City of Melbourne’s Commercial Solar Rebate Program.

101 Collins Street's new system in place. Image courtesy City of Melbourne

The 180 panels have been installed vertically to maximise energy from the sun while taking up minimal roof space. They will generate 47,000kWh of electricity per year and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 59 tonnes each year, which is equivalent to the annual electricity usage of more than 12 residential homes.

This blue chip building is home to some of the world’s most prominent financial institutions: they know a good investment when they see one.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle

 This system, Solar PV, will generate a virtually guaranteed output of carbon free energy for years to come. It fits with one of our operating principle which is, “Do It Right and Do It Once.”

Senior Manager of Engineering and Sustainability at 101 Collins St, Ross Boreham

Not to be outdone the owners of Russell Street's Hero Building have installed the largest solar system ever retrofitted to a Melbourne apartment block. Above 149 apartments, the new 50kW solar panel system will now power the lighting and ventilation systems in the common areas of the 60 year old building. 

The distinctive features of Hero Apartments. Image courtesy Peter Maltezos

The original cream brick building acted as the Russell Street Telephone exchange and Post Office and was the first postwar government building of any size completed after 1945. During 1999 additional floors were added as the building was repurposed into its current residential use.

Costed at $103,857, the building's new solar system was partially funded through the sale of $34,188 of small scale technology certificates (STC’s), a $3000 rebate from the City of Melbourne’s Smart Blocks initiative and financing of $30,000 from the Sustainable Melbourne Fund according to City of Melbourne.

Generating roughly 53,000 kWh of electricity per year, the 200 panels will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 66 tonnes each year with City of Melbourne equating the figure to the annual electricity usage of more than 13 residential homes.

The solar panels were installed by a local business, Envirogroup. The panels will be paid off in around eight years and will produce ongoing savings on our 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.

Member of the Hero Owners Corporation Committee, Tricia Caswell

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. 

Councillor Arron Wood

City of Melbourne has over the previous year facilitated the installation of 415.12kW of solar panels atop apartment buildings, single-family dwellings and commercial buildings within its municipal boundaries. In partnership with VECCI, the City of Melbourne also provides a free service to support businesses in assessing their solar opportunities and obtaining and comparing quotes to install a solar system on their premises.

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