The Smart Blocks program is designed to help owner-occupiers and owners corporations save on power bills, reduce carbon emissions and improve the value of their properties.
The program targets the higher energy consumption of established apartment buildings and is part of the City of Melbourne’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2020.
The Smart Blocks program was developed in partnership between Strata Community Australia, City of Melbourne, City of Sydney, Owners Corporation Network of Australia and Green Strata. The Smart Blocks program received Federal funding as part of the Energy Efficiency Information Grants (EEIG) program managed by the Department of Industry.
Case study one: How many apartment owners does it take to change 1200 light globes?
At Freshwater Place Apartments, a 530-apartment high-rise development in Melbourne, an energy audit and five-year energy plan motivated the owners corporation to replace 1200 common area, 20-watt, halogen lights with 6-watt LED globes.
This strategy reduced annual electricity consumption by more than 62,000 kWh per year and CO2 emissions by more than 84,000 kg per year, and the changeover paid itself off in just over two years. Residents were also offered LED globes at wholesale prices for their own units.
"The energy reduction plan got residents involved... and allowed us to take action on energy efficiency,” said Peter Renner, apartment owner at Freshwater Place.
Case study two:
Apartment owner Tim Esmonde helped an owners committee retrofit a seven-storey Parkville building with LED lighting and motion sensors in 2012.
The lighting changeover cost $6500 but already saves the owners corporation $2000 a year in electricity bills. It will pay itself off in just over three years and reduces the building’s carbon emissions by 50 per cent.
Esmonde, who plans to use the Smart Blocks rebate to add solar panels, said owners organised the lighting change because, “At the end of the day, we are the ones living in the building and we are the ones who benefit. Apart from the cost saving, it’s just doing what is right. Why have lights on when you are not using them?”