A retrofit program in Melbourne uses a web-based tool to allow apartment owners to track and manage their building’s energy-saving and renewable energy projects online and solicit expert advice on upgrade options.

The Challenge

Apartment buildings in Australia consume 25% more energy per resident than stand-alone homes. About half of this energy is consumed by “common property” assets such as hallway lighting, parking lot ventilation, and pool pumps. The process to make changes to common property has been highly regulated and challenging. With more than 70% of Melbourne’s residents living in apartments, Smart Blocks helps this sector become more sustainable.


The Solution

Smart Blocks is a building retrofit program in Melbourne, Australia, underpinned by a comprehensive online interface equipping residents within a building with tools to work collaboratively, learn about apartment living and sustainability, and manage projects from initiation to completion. An owners’ corporation, composed of individual apartment owners in a building, signs their building up for the service, enters detailed information about the building, and then receives expert advice and feedback regarding optimal retrofit options, quote request templates, and payback calculators. Through the tool, users can then track energy usage statistics over time. These tools and services help building owners make the most informed and economically viable choices regarding retrofit options and ensure that progress is tracked and recorded.

So far, 125 Melbourne buildings have signed up for the program, representing 10% of the city’s building stock. Already, 40 energy efficiency or renewable energy projects have been completed using the online tool, and 67 more are underway. The program aims to help Melbourne achieve its goals of producing zero net emissions by 2020 and using 25% renewable energy by 2018.


Environmental Benefits – Sixty-seven energy efficiency or renewable energy projects are currently underway in the Smart Blocks program.

Economic Benefits – As part of Smart Blocks, one apartment building was retrofitted with LED lights at a cost of $6,500. The retrofit has already saved the owners’ corporation $2,000 a year in electricity bills and will pay back the investment in just over three years.


About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2015 publication online here.