Smart Commercial Solar is proud to be a founding member of Open Cities, the first advocacy group in Australia to support the abundance and lower costs to all consumers that new technologies like solar can deliver if government and business does things right. Smart's Huon Hoogesteger said this to The Fifth Estate:
A common voice to oppose shortsightedness
Smart Commercial Solar managing director Huon Hoogesteger told The Fifth Estate Open Cities members had similar themes: “Common infrastructure that can provide a backbone for a healthy and abundant community.”
He says currently infrastructure is going into developments without considering long-term implications.
“Often developers have a competing interest with the future owners.
“Developers wish to lower their construction costs yet this comes at the price of the community running costs. Often the incumbent service providers are the last ones to adopt new technologies. To date there’s been no voice for the future to oppose this shortsightedness. Open Cities provides that voice.
“The idea of Open Cities means that through appropriate planning and construction our communities can be more efficient, more holistic, less of an impact and ultimately provide an abundance of services for a lower cost.”
Boost building codes so roofs can take more solar panels
One particular recommendation to the Greater Sydney Commission is to update building codes to improve roof designs for increased solar load.
Hoogesteger says there are swathes of new industrial roof spaces in Western Sydney that would have been perfect for solar, if only they could support the load.
“Most of these rooftops have been designed within the limits of Australian Standards and as such have enough capacity to hold themselves up, but no capacity to host solar panels,” he says.
“The reason: The additional cost of the structural build averages around $19/square metre to the capital cost of the building.
Less than one year to break even
“Our argument is simple: the revenue generated by a solar system on these roofs would be around $21/sq m a year. So less than one year to break even and you future proof the building.
“But developers are thinking of their build costs, not the longer term benefits to their buyer, tenant or community.”
It’s simple changes like raising buildings standards that could see sustainable cities triumph over short-termism, Hoogesteger says.
“[Open Cities’] first goal is to open the minds of planners, developers and construction companies to the possibility that things can be done better.”