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Smart Blocks wins Industry Innovation Award

Sarah Johnson (at right), Smart Blocks Program Coordinator and Amy Brand (centre) from City of Melbourne accepting the award

 

Smart Blocks, which received funding from the Department of Industry as part of the Energy Efficiency Information Grants (EEIG) Program, was delighted to receive the FMA Industry Innovation Award. Working with Digital Eskimo, Huddle, Sustainability @ Work & Viridis to realise this ambitious vision, we are already working on the next iteration and additional modules for the toolkit. 

Collectively, Australia’s 280,000 owner’s corporations are responsible for trillions in assets ultimately owned by millions of Australian families. These bodies generate billions in economic activity through consumption of goods and services to operate and maintain these assets and they play a critical role in the quality of life for the 24.2 per cent of Australian households living in strata-type dwellings. That percentage is only going to grow with around 40% of new housing now in medium and high density developments.

Smart Blocks is a great example of government funding being a catalyst for bringing together stakeholders and expertise from across the community – industry, government at all levels as well as academia and the consumers themselves – to produce something truly innovative. The program is ground breaking in its application of design thinking to deliver meaningful results for apartment owners, strata managers and facilities managers to make Australia’s multi-unit residential building stock more sustainable.

During the six months since the program launched we have had nearly 15,000 visitors to our site. Happily, 313 buildings have signed up to the platform across NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA and ACT and within these buildings we have a diverse mix of:

  • > 462 active participants including owners, facilities managers, strata managers and tenants;
  • > 153 energy efficiency retrofit projects underway.

Engaging with owner’s corporations can often be a challenge to facilities managers, especially in the residential sector.  More than any other sector of the built environment, within the multi-unit residential sector a successful facilities manager must play the role of community organiser nearly as much as he/she acts as asset manager.  Smart Blocks is a no cost, high value resource for managers to support and – most importantly - engage their owner’s corporations on proactive management.  At its very core, Smart Blocks is an enabling tool to assist owner’s corporations and their strata managers and facilities managers function as one coherent group.

An analysis of 60 energy audits across apartment buildings of all shapes and sizes in NSW and VIC identified that, on average, apartment buildings can save 20-30 per cent on the energy bills for their common property.  Energy consumption from common property – such as hallway lights, car parks, pools, and central water heating – can be up to 50 per cent of total energy consumption for a building!  The savings potential for owners is therefore large. 

Smart Blocks seeks to engage owner’s corporations and professional managers to support the successful implementation of energy efficiency projects.  While it is still early days in our rollout, the response has been extraordinary and we’re motivated that real, positive change will come from the program for an often forgotten and ignored sector of the built environment.

In 2014 Smart Blocks will continue to work with our partners to expand our reach and add new information for buildings, including a solar module! We can’t wait to work with owners and managers to make our buildings some of the most efficient in the world.

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