14 July 2021

Body corporates encouraged to install solar energy for the common good

| Katrina Condie
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Man installing solar panels on roof

Installing solar systems on apartment buildings can benefit all residents. Photo: Mondiaux Solar.

A growing number of eco-conscious apartment building owners and body corporates are looking to install solar systems on existing buildings in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs.

For years, apartment buildings have fallen behind when it comes to installing renewable energy, and while the rules surrounding the installation of solar panels on individual units vary, adding rooftop solar to existing apartment buildings now offers a cost-effective way to reduce electricity costs in common areas such as corridor lightings, elevators, parking lots, pools and gyms.

Mondiaux Solar operations manager Bin Wang says it is a worthwhile investment to generate savings on electricity that will benefit all apartment owners.

“Apartment buildings have a massive carbon footprint through their life cycle, therefore adding rooftop solar generates carbon offsets for a minimum system lifetime of 20 years,” he says.

During the past 12 months, Mondiaux Solar has seen an increase in solar enquiries from building owners and developers.

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“From my market research, and network of people within the energy industry, I am aware of owners enquiring proactively in rooftop solar for their existing buildings,” says Bin.

He encourages more body corporates and apartment strata managers to investigate the installation of solar for the benefit of all owners.

“It creates a sense of responsibility towards the environment and reduces electricity bills,” says Bin.

As well as offsetting embodied emissions to reduce a building’s carbon footprint, and reducing electricity bills for common areas and equipment, Bin says solar will increase a property’s value and encourages a greener lifestyle for residents.

But not all apartment owners are reaping the solar rewards.

While some individual apartment owners would like to tap into greener energy, they’re often restricted by the developer or body corporate.

Vantage Strata managing director Chris Miller says, fundamentally, the laws in the ACT make it easier for owners to install solar panels for their individual units provided they comply with certain requirements, but typically the benefit for solar in apartments is for the communal good.

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“Depending on the kind of complex, the rules about installing solar panels may vary,” he says.

“Apartment owners should speak to their strata committee or body corporate about installing common solar for the benefit of all owners.”

Traditionally, it has been challenging to install solar systems to supply electricity to just one or two units.

Apartment owners whose body corporates don’t agree to installing solar panels have been missing out on the benefits enjoyed by homeowners.

However, a new product on the market allows the installation of an inverter on each level, with individual power supplies running to each unit, providing a way for apartments and multi-tenanted buildings to access the benefits of solar.

The device is suitable for any building where multiple tenants share a single roof. It can monitor the electricity use of each unit, and more units can be added to the system at a later date.

With permission of the building owner, the cost of the solar panels and installation can be shared by those apartment owners who want to take advantage of solar power.

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Going to be hard to easily get agreement to do it on existing properties – as Oiledpengu said, hard enough to get anything done with existing body corporates let alone something like this.

Arguably things could be done a lot better for new builds however.

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