Two iconic Melbourne buildings have broken records by installing solar panels, showing that commercial and apartment property owners are embracing renewable energy.

The owners of 149 apartments in the boutique Hero Building on Russell Street have installed the largest solar system ever retrofitted to a Melbourne apartment block. In an Australian first, Australia’s fourth tallest skyscraper at 101 Collins Street has also invested in the highest commercial solar panel system in the country.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the installation of the 59.4kW system at 101 Collins represents a new frontier in the switch to solar.

“This blue chip building is home to some of the world’s most prominent financial institutions: they know a good investment when they see one,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The 180 panels have been installed vertically to maximise energy from the sun while taking up minimal roof space. They will generate 47,000kWh of electricity per year and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 59 tonnes each year, which is equivalent to the annual electricity usage of more than 12 residential homes.”

Due to significant wind loads, it took seven months to complete the design, engineering and installation of the solar system on the top of the 56 storey building, at a height of 195 metres.

The $230,000 cost of the system was partially funded with a $4000 rebate through the City of Melbourne’s Commercial Solar Rebate Program.

The highest commercial solar panel system in Australia at 101 Collins

Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio Councillor Arron Wood said the 330 watt solar panels will be used to offset the cooling of the building’s tenant condenser water system.

“Our goal for carbon neutrality is for the whole municipality so we applaud the commitment being shown by management and tenants of 101 Collins Street and we hope that other building owners follow their lead.”

In nearby Russell Street, the owners of the historic Hero Building have installed a 50kW solar panel system to power the lighting and ventilation systems in the common areas of the 60 year old building.

“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 original nine storey building once housed a telephone exchange and postal hall. In 1999 it 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 $103,857 system was partially funded through the sale of $34,188 of small scale technology certificates (STC’s), a $3000 rebate from the City of Melbourne’s Smart Blocks initiative and financing of $30,000 from the Sustainable Melbourne Fund.

“There are 58,000 dwellings in the municipality covered by strata schemes and more than 1.5 million square meters of commercial strata titled property. Residents and businesses within these properties can access 100 per cent finance for environmental upgrades through the Sustainable Melbourne Fund,” said Cr Arron Wood.

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

Over the last year, the City of Melbourne has facilitated the installation of 415.12kW of solar on apartment buildings, single-family dwellings and commercial buildings across the municipality.