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Case Study: Install solar for common areas

Tricia Caswell, 118 Russell Street, Melbourne

Tricia Caswell

The Hero Building’s 200 solar panels will generate around 53,000 kWh of electricity per year, and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 66 tonnes each year, equivalent to the annual electricity usage of more than 13 residential homes.

You can do this project!

The 149 owners of the boutique Hero Apartments on Russell Street have installed the largest solar system ever retrofitted to a Melbourne apartment block.

This huge 50kW solar system is made from 200 solar panels converting sunlight into electricity. 

Having already completed a ventilation project, the panels will now enable the owners to pay even less to power the lighting and ventilation systems in the common areas of the 60 year old building, which once housed a telephone exchange and postal hall.

In 1999 the original nine storey building was converted into a 14 storey building housing a variety of boutique apartments with retail at the ground and basement level by renowned Melbourne architect, Nonda Katsalidis.

“The owners have united and demonstrated that you can install solar on buildings of all shapes and sizes, including historic buildings,” said Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

“The solar panels will be paid off within seven or 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 apartment block” said Tricia Caswell, resident and member of the Hero Owners Corporation Committee.

The $103,857 system was partially funded through the sale of $34,188 of small-scale technology certificates (STC’s), a $3,000 rebate from the City of Melbourne’s Smart Blocks initiative, and financing of $30,000 from the Sustainable Melbourne Fund.

Owners corporations in Victoria interested in installing solar power can access loans through the Sustainable Melbourne Fund. If you want to follow in the steps of the The Hero Building, check out the Smart Blocks guide to installing solar.

View a short video clip about the Hero Building solar system.