St Kilda Community Housing: Transition to Zero

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St Kilda Community Housing has partners with Certified B Corp and 2015 "Best for the World for Environmental Impact honouree, Energy for the People, to showcase how clean energy can change lives, support local communities and create a secure financial investment

The project is designed to transition St Kilda Community Housing’s portfolio of 20 buildings/337 rooming house units to zero emissions, and is being staged over a two year period. The project involves installing up to 150kW of solar, plus battery storage, energy management technologies, LED lighting and hot water upgrades for space heating and shower facilities. This includes a complete transition away from natural gas.

From the outset, $30,000 is being saved, simply by switching to a more competitive tariff. An additional $40,000 will be saved, through a combination of solar power and LED lighting upgrades. We are currently working through the costs and benefits of switching away from natural gas, including the use of high efficiency heat pumps, instantaneous hot water systems and battery storage technology.

The project’s social impact comes from investing energy savings into education and training opportunities for people at risk of homelessness, in the property management and clean energy industries, with the opportunity for ongoing employment through social enterprise T2M.

As of May 2015, 68kW of solar had been installed, with the rest of the package going in before the end of 2015. St Kilda Community Housing General Manager, John Enticott, said “meeting Alex and Tosh from Energy for the People was a light bulb moment for me. We were looking for solutions to our ever-increasing utility bills, and their highly innovative approach, combined with their passion and commitment to social justice, meant we could save money immediately, and develop employment opportunities for tenants at the same time”.

“Installation of the panels has proven consistently challenging, due to the age, size and location of the buildings – including heritage overlays, protected trees shading the rooftops, steeply angled roofs and aging electrics – but we think the results speak for themselves” continued Mr Enticott.

By freeing up money to invest in the future, and providing immediate opportunities for disadvantaged people to gain practical experience, the partnership is designed to make a lasting difference. St Kilda Community Housing’s tenants’ represent some of the most disadvantaged people in Australian society, with many trying to put their lives back together after marriage breakdowns, mental illness or long-term unemployment. St Kilda Community Housing has a long history of working with people in the St Kilda area, and the partnership with Energy for the People is the latest in a long line of innovative approaches taken over the past 30 years. SCH already employs its own tenants, via its social enterprise, T2M, which provides property maintenance services to community agencies, and is now looking to branch out into the corporate world.

SCH have also been partnering with Energy for the People’s sister company, The People’s Solar, to run a crowd-funding campaign to finance installations on one of the 20 buildings, thereby freeing up more money to invest in education and employment opportunities. The campaign successfully raised $30,000 between January and June 2015.