Melbourne’s Hero Building is proving true to its name, having installed the largest solar system to be retrofitted to a Melbourne apartment block, while 101 Collins Street has invested in the highest commercial solar panel system in the country.

The owners of 149 apartments in the Hero Building installed a 50 kW solar panel system to power the lighting and ventilation systems in the common areas of the 60-year old building.

Hero Building’s $103,857 system was installed by Envirogroup and partially funded through the sale of $34,188 small-scale technology certificates (STCs), a $3,000 rebate from the City of Melbourne’s Smart Blocks initiative, and $30,000 financing from the Sustainable Melbourne Fund.

The 200 solar panels will generate around 53,000 kWh of electricity a year and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 66 tonnes each year – equivalent to the annual electricity usage of more than 13 residential homes. The solar installation is projected to save the Hero Building $10,000 per year.

“The owners have united and demonstrated that you can install solar on buildings of all shapes and sizes, including historic buildings,” said Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

Meanwhile, Mr Doyle said 101 Collins’ 59.4 kW system – also installed by Envirogroup – represented a new frontier in the switch to solar.

“This blue chip building is home to some of the world’s most prominent financial institutions: they know a good investment when they see one.

“The 180 panels have been installed vertically to maximise energy from the sun while taking up minimal roof space. They will generate 47,000 kWh of electricity per year and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 59 tonnes each year – equivalent to the annual electricity usage of more than 12 residential homes.”

Due to significant wind loads, it took seven months to complete the design, engineering and installation of the solar system at the 56-storey 101 Collins Street. The building’s $230,000 system was partially funded with a $4,000 rebate through the City of Melbourne’s Commercial Solar Rebate Program.

Over the last year, the City of Melbourne has facilitated the installation of more than 415 kW of solar on apartment buildings, single-family dwellings and commercial buildings across the municipality.