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Case Study: Upgrade light fittings

Catherine Lezer, Botany Road, Waterloo

Catherine Lezer

Catherine Lezer never dreamed how much energy her building could save by installing energy efficient lighting.

You can do this project!

Check out the extended version of this case study.

Catherine Lezer’s 34-block apartment in Sydney’s Waterloo was due for some maintenance in common areas. The building’s strata manager, Paul Culbi from Jamesons, suggested it was a good opportunity to make the building more energy efficient.

Energy audit

The executive committee commissioned Energy Smart Strata to audit the building. The audit laid out the building’s energy use in black and white and made clear what needed to be done. Lighting was the building’s biggest energy drain, so the committee decided to tackle it first.

Lighting

Catherine approached a number of different companies and eventually found a great solution for the building’s concrete ceilings: an oyster light with a sensor and the right wattage and colour temperature from Lighting Technologies.

The lights were paid for by a $9,000 investment from the building’s sinking fund, alongside a grant from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage 'Energy Savings Scheme'.

Energy savings

The upgrade took place in two stages and after each stage, there was a dramatic dip in the building’s common area electricity bill. Their energy consumption has dropped by 42 per cent and the switch will pay for itself in less than three and a half years.

Neighbourly collaboration

Catherine believes the project has had the surprising benefit of nurturing a strong sense of community. The residents and owners had to work together, bringing the building closer. People are friendlier, they care more about the building — and they get involved.

Encouragement award

In recognition of their achievements, the block was awarded the Strata Owners Community Engagement Award from Strata Community Australia (NSW). The award honours how well the block’s executive committee, chairman, strata manager, owners and residents have worked together to make such significant improvements to their building.

Catherine Lezer’s top tips

  • Install lights and other energy saving measures first, then install a solar system that matches your reduced energy needs. When we installed LED lighting, our energy use dropped so significantly it has halved our solar requirements. Now we can install a much smaller (and less expensive) solar system.  
  • Over-communicate. Even if your block’s owners and managers seem uninterested, keeping everyone in the loop is important. I found the City of Melbourne’s Good Practice Guide: Multi-unit residential facilities management had helpful advice on how to get people involved.
  • Get lots of quotes and do lots of research to make sure you have the most suitable product and service.
  • Get the help of someone who has building or asset management experience. It was a big learning curve!
  • Don’t get frustrated. Anything involving a strata takes ages, but it’s worth it in the end.

Check out the extended version of this case study.