Apartments, Units and Strata
Strata units and apartments have unique requirements and options for going all-electric that come with their own limitations and barriers
Work with your committee and/or working group to come up with a plan and timeline
Amendments to shared use areas or the whole complex may be easier to undertake than individual units
There are a range of benefits, and challenges, for households living in apartments and strata units to get off gas. Depending on the density, design, state regulations and strata arrangements you may have to overcome more hurdles, but it’s not impossible. To go all-electric may mean doing things in logical order, and this could mean doing the simplest things first, such as common areas.
Get your committee or working group together and make a plan to transition to all-electric. Work out your timeline, consider financial implications and engage the right technical experts to help you get there. First you should list all the appliances in your building that run on fossil fuels, figure out when their natural end-of-life is going to be, and get agreement with the Strata Corporation for their replacement overtime.
What can residents do?
Residents or apartment owners usually have responsibility for the apartment’s appliances, including the installation of efficient electric heating, cooking or hot water systems. There may be limitations in circumstances where shared facilities are installed in high density apartment buildings – for example a shared hot water system.
You will likely need approval from your Strata Corporation for any visible amendments, such as external components of heating or hot water systems. You will also need to check the building’s power supply can cope with increased electricity charge.
Purchasing GreenPower from your energy retailer is an easy way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
What can the Strata Corporation do?
The Strata Corporation is responsible for decisions over communal areas and shared infrastructure. This includes:
- Managing the efficient energy use in shared spaces including, heating and cooling systems, lights, pools and car park ventilation fans;
- Buying renewable electricity or GreenPower for common areas;
- Managing embedded networks to certain retailers and energy providers.
- Replacing a centralised gas hot water system with heat pump technology or other PV direct electric hot water systems.
Improving the efficient running of car park ventilation fans can be a quick win by monitoring the carbon monoxide levels and setting the fans to run at a reduced speed or at intervals.
Electric vehicle charging availability may be a barrier in some apartments with shared car parking. Changes in requirements in the 2022 National Construction Code are likely to increase charging availability in new developments, but older buildings often require modifications or increased provision of charging spots. Residents can request the Strata Corporation investigate EV charging options and may have some success.
Putting on solar
Shared roof space can make solar more difficult or result in less roof space per apartment in higher density buildings. In some cases (particularly for high-density or high-rise buildings), limited roof space may make rooftop solar impractical compared to offsite community solar or storage.
In other cases, some options are available. Solar splitter systems allow for individual apartments to share solar. Solar can be installed by the Strata Corporation for energy use in shared spaces, typically reducing shared energy usage and therefore shared expenses.
Owners of townhouses or units in single-story strata buildings may be able to install rooftop solar for an individual dwelling, however strata arrangements vary.
Disconnecting from gas
Due to shared onsite gas infrastructure, full meter abolishment and removal of pipes is unlikely to be an option for disconnection, unless done by the Strata Corporation for all dwellings and common areas. Instead, talk to your retailer about steps needed to close your account.
Check out Unlocking Sustainable Strata: A Guide To Electrifying Your Apartment Building Or Townhouse from 2022 for a detailed overview on how to get apartments and strata units off gas.