Australia’s largest independent not-for-profit aged care provider is rolling out solar power across more than 20 residential aged care communities in Queensland and NSW in a move expected to remove more than 3,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the environment every year.
Bolton Clarke’s program of work – including four recent installations at Thornlands, Banora Point and Currumbin Waters – follows the successful commissioning of solar photovoltaic systems at the provider’s Longreach and Bowen communities in 2019. The Bowen community also has three 13.5kW Tesla Powerwall batteries to further reduce consumption.
Additional installations are underway at Parkinson and in Townsville.
In FY2021, completed solar installations generated 382,000kWh of electricity (approx $76,000 worth based on 20 cents per kWh).
General Manager Property Development James Mantis said the roll-out would result in a total annual generation capacity of about 4.5 million kWh, representing around 20 per cent of existing electricity consumption across the communities.
It will build on the organisation’s ongoing work with research and design partners including QUT to develop sustainable and energy-efficient communities.
The ongoing QUT iHub project at Bolton Clarke Fernhill, Caboolture – part of the Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling initiative – aims to advance the industry’s transition to a low emissions future by testing new technologies to reduce energy consumption.
“The project has installed a range of sensors to identify temperature, relative humidity, CO2, motion, air pressure, VOC and Lux, along with reed switches that can identify when windows are open or closed,” Mr Mantis said.
“These sensors are used to determine the baseline for building envelope thermal resistance and the activities schedules of occupants.
“The baseline findings show energy use is correlated with external temperature, highlighting the big impact of heating and cooling loads on total energy consumption, ” Mr Mantis added.
Bolton Clarke has been a key stakeholder and industry reference point for the development and implementation of the National Australian Built Environment System (NABERS) across residential aged care communities.
NABERS star ratings for energy and water in retirement villages and residential aged care homes launched in September 2021. The rating measures building performance on a scale of zero to six stars. A zero-star rating means the building is performing well below average and has lots of scope for improvement. A six-star rating indicates a market-leading performance, with half the greenhouse gas emissions or water use of a five-star building. A grant is currently available for NSW providers to receive their first water and energy rating.
The organisation recently became the first retirement living operator to partner with electric vehicle sharing start-up Ohmie Go! at its Europa on Alma community at St Kilda.
Sustainability is a category in the annual Future of Ageing Awards – entries for the 2022 awards close on August 5.