Fremantle-based Montreal Commons, set to become one of the first carbon neutral apartment buildings in Australia, will save its tenants 50 per cent on body corporate fees under a renewable energy deal between OP Properties and Power Ledger.

The five-storey, 39-apartment complex has set a benchmark for sustainable apartment design and will use developer-funded 75kW solar PVs and battery storage, which will be topped up with energy from the grid through local energy retailer Change Energy.

The estimated carbon reduction from the project is about 240 tonnes of carbon per year, or 6 tonnes per apartment.

“There is strong demand in the Australian property market for renewable energy solutions,” Luke Parker, director of OP Properties, said. “The problem is that it normally costs more to live or invest in low carbon dwellings.”

“We wanted to deliver apartments that provided a financial reward for being low-carbon, which would be a win-win, as it would accelerate our apartment sales, investor support and the take up generally of low-carbon living.

“Montreal Commons is on track to achieve One Planet Living Recognition, which ensures it meets key principles that support social, environmental and economic sustainability.”

Tenants will be able to sell excess electricity generated back to the 670kWh onsite battery using Power Ledger’s energy trading platform, while also having the ability to buy back electricity during times of peak demand at an agreed price.

“Power Ledger is one of the leading innovators for renewables, driving the expansion of green energy through its work to create economically viable P2P energy trading networks secured by block-chain technology,” Parker said.

The energy trading platform uses block-chain technology to ensure that every energy transaction is accurately tracked, verified as renewable, and transparent.

 (L-R) Nic Osboine, Dr Gemma Green, Power Ledger co-founder and executive chairman, and Luke Parker.

“The combination of developer funded solar, Power Ledger’s trading platform and unique strata ownership model will result in a small income stream to the strata company equating to about 50 per cent of strata levies a year,” Parker said.

“Distributing via the strata company ensures the benefit is equitably spread to all owners regardless of whether they are owner-occupiers or investors with tenants in the dwelling.”

OP Properties will cover the full cost of installing the solar PV system, ensuring no debt or payback period for apartment owners, with ownership and full benefits of the system handed over to the future strata company – meaning the full financial benefit goes towards lower strata levies.

“Generally, buyers prefer to live low-carbon, but they are not necessarily ready to pay for it.

“So, despite all the features of Montreal Commons, it was critical that there be no price premium, which we have definitely achieved with one bedroom, one bathroom from $370k, two bedrooms and two bathrooms from $515k and three bedrooms and two bathrooms from $675k,” Parker added.

He said the combination of high NatHERS rating (average 7.5 Star) – made possible through passive design elements such as double glazing, 100 per cent cross ventilation, using the communal bore plus the large solar PV system – are “fantastic but very expensive”.

“So we’ve had to work even harder to keep costs in check, but as a private developer we are able to justify this additional project cost because we believe it will allow us to sell more apartments faster to speed up the project’s delivery, which will reduce our holding and interest costs.”

Montreal Commons is the second lot to be developed as part of DevelopmentWA’s mixed-use precinct at Knutsford.

According to Frank Marra, DevelopmentWA CEO, Montreal Commons would join the growing list of transformative projects catering for WA’s growing population in a sustainable and affordable way.

“At DevelopmentWA, we lead by doing, and innovative infill developments like Montreal Commons help set new benchmarks in sustainability and liveability,” Marra continued.

“This development will build on the many lessons we have learnt from other DevelopmentWA projects, including WGV at White Gum Valley – WA’s first One Planet Community.”

“Montreal Commons pays homage to the area’s industrial heritage and will contribute to the character of the East Village at Knutsford Mixed-Use Precinct, while giving its residents a greener, more sustainable lifestyle,” Nic Osboine, OP Properties co-founding director, concluded.

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