Century Tower is on Pitt Street Sydney IMAGE Century Tower
Century Tower is on Pitt Street Sydney IMAGE Century Tower
  • The Wentworth Towers, The Galleria and Century Towers all made significant green upgrades.
  • By measuring building efficiency they reduced energy bills, halved their water usage, and more.
  • City of Sydney's Green Building Grants are open until March 7th, for building strata companies.

The City of Sydney currently has Green Building Grants on offer in support of apartment building upgrades to increase energy and water efficiency, reduce waste, and improve sustainability.

Green building projects are vital to Sydney’s ‘Net Zero by 2035’ targets, as the city strives to create a more sustainable future.

Considering the fifty-plus-year lifespan of a typical building, today’s developers are beginning to understand that apartment blocks built in 2023 that are not sustainable, will likely stand untenanted in the not-too-distant future.

Likewise, established buildings need to help make that Net Zero emissions target too. More residents and businesses need to urgently take action, like purchasing GreenPower, and completing building upgrades.

For previous Green Building Grant recipients The Wentworth Towers, The Galleria and Century Towers knowing where to start was the problem, or whether to DIY or outsource.

Levelling a steep learning curve.

That’s where the grants come in. The Green Building Grants are offered to help existing buildings become more resource efficient said Nicki Hodgson, Sustainability Engagement Officer at the City of Sydney.

Ms Hodgson said, “The grants empower people with knowledge, for example through professional assessments and certifications, that they can then use to achieve Net Zero emissions.

“These residential buildings are standouts because of what they did after they received this information, using their own resources” she said.

IMAGE City of Sydney
There are many ways to increase building efficiency IMAGE City of Sydney

Wentworth Towers – 5.5 green stars

Wentworth Towers is a 15-storey apartment block, consisting of 86 residences. The strata committee, led by sustainability champion Pamela, knew their mid-density 1981 building needed significant green upgrades.

Armed with consultations from their Green Building Grant, the strata installed LED lighting, a more efficient cooling tower system, and water-saving devices in the taps, showerheads, and toilets of Wentworth Towers.

The improvements resulted in estimated energy, water, and maintenance cost savings of close to $30,000 per year. Pamela said, “A bonus side-effect from the upgrades is that the air-conditioning system and cooling tower are much quieter!”

Pamela said the strata had persevered and found solutions to what were previously considered unsolvable compatibility problems. They also learned the value of measuring building efficiency, as they succeeded in achieving an outstanding 5.5-star NABERS energy rating for Wentworth Towers.

The Galleria – first solar battery

The Galleria, a six-storey, 64-unit residential building, had a central cooling system that was underperforming – to the extent that residents began installing their own split-cycle air conditioning. The owners’ corporation had also upgraded the gas hot water system after the boilers had failed.

The Galleria strata committee used the grant to introduce a lighting upgrade and integrate a small heat pump into the gas hot water system. They set up a 22 kW solar system, and two 13 kW batteries to store excess generated power.

The Galleria became the first residential apartment building in the City of Sydney to install battery storage, and residents were educated on ways to lower their energy bills.

Now with a 10-year building plan, the community is engaged in reducing the building’s carbon footprint through resident surveys and real-time electricity monitoring data. Their staged approach to futureproofing the building includes installing EV charging points, integrated with their solar power and battery storage.

This project was the result of successful community engagement in building upgrades. Already, the energy cost savings means strata fees have not risen for the residents.

Century Tower – water tight

Century Tower is a 52-story residential building consisting of 292 boutique apartments. With an extremely high water use, the strata committee requested an assessment from Sydney Water to identify efficiency opportunities.

Century Tower building manager Andrew admitted, “There was a lot of debate as to whether we should DIY the project rather than outsource it to Sydney Water. It would have been difficult to DIY – particularly with gaining access to apartments.”

On accepting Sydney Water’s WaterFix Strata service, over 600 leaks were repaired, and 687 domestic water fixtures were replaced with efficient alternatives. This resulted in 28 million litres of water saved each year, and $64,000 a year saved on water bills for the community of residents.

Century Tower was a finalist in the SCA (NSW) Strata Community Awards three years in a row. The building won the 2021 and 2022 awards for Strata Community Environmental & Engagement.

Century Tower’s success shows the importance of proactive building management.. Andrew said he personally learned a lot about resource consumption and conservation through the Green Building Grant, and has since completed the City of Sydney’s Sustainable Building Managers course.

He said, “Inertia is a powerful thing, and when you have to spend money to save money, it’s often easier to do nothing. The grant allowed us to engage an independent, expert consultant at no cost, to develop the business cases necessary to move forward.”

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These three projects, co-funded by the City of Sydney’s Green Building Grant, demonstrate the win/win situation that green building upgrades offer.

As the City of Sydney has opened a new round of grants from seventh of February to seventh of March, this is a great opportunity for mid-density building owners and occupiers to take advantage of the funding and improve their building’s sustainability this year.

Assessment criteria guidelines that can be found on the City of Sydney Green Building Grants webpage.

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