Smart Blocks Launch

(6.30pm, Wednesday 12 June 2013, Aerial Function Centre, UTS)

Thank you, [MC]. Good evening, everyone. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who lie in our City.

I'm pleased to welcome you all tonight to the launch of this important new initiative.

Smart Blocks was developed by a partnership between Strata Community Australia, the City of Sydney and the City of Melbourne, the Owners Corporation Network of Australia and Green Strata. I welcome members of the Steering Committee from all these organisations who are with us tonight.

The program received funding from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism as part of its Energy Efficiency Information Grants program.

It's a welcome support from the Department and one the City of Sydney is pleased to acknowledge.

Cities - more compact, sustainable, densely-populated cities - can be key players in the fight against climate change and global warming.

But it means we will have to build smarter, more sustainable offices and apartments, and retrofit the existing building stock which will be with us for another generation at least.

With this in mind, the City of Sydney has been engaging building owners, services providers and residents through our Smart Green Apartments program for almost three years now.

This has more recently been supplement by a series of educational workshops, Strata 101 to build sustainable communities.

Apartments already make up almost one-third of Sydney's building stock, and they house three-quarters of the City's residents. Strata living is also the fastest growing sector in NSW and it's predicted that in 20 years, half the state will be living in strata schemes.

Nationally, between 2006 and 2011, 150,000 households made the switch to apartment living, and apartments accounted for 35-40 per cent of all new homes.

So they present us with tremendous opportunities for environmental savings.

At the moment, however, apartment dwellers are responsible for almost twice the emissions of house-dwellers - due to common area services and the base building itself.

Smart Blocks will help apartment owners and managers nationally to improve their energy efficiency and to save money.

Assessments of common property - and that includes items like lighting, pools, hot-water systems, pumps, and heating and cooling systems - in a number of apartment buildings in Sydney and Melbourne have shown potential energy savings of up to 30 per cent.

That has to be welcome news, as well as a worthwhile goal, for owners and managers.

The Smart Blocks program is truly unique. It is delivered independently, and it's tailored specifically to help apartment owners and their managers to save money by improving the energy efficiency of common property.

Smart Blocks begins with an interactive on-line tool-kit that will allow people to discover the energy efficiency improvements that can be made to common property in their own buildings.

It then guides them through the various steps they need to take to get projects approved.

We're asking all apartment owners, building and strata managers to learn more about what they can do to help our environment and to save on their costs by signing up for one of the many workshops being held around Australia from June this year.

A quick visit to www.smartblocks.com.au will show you a workshop that's being held close to you.

The website also tells you more about how Owners Corporation fees and levies can be reduced through lower energy bills, and it suggests ways in which you can fund your project - whether through government rebates, subsidies or green loans.

The important thing to take from this meeting is the fact that all apartment buildings can fine-tune energy use in their common areas, whether it's through using energy differently, through retrofitting or upgrading systems, or by replacing them with more energy-efficient products.

The website is there to support you in that quest.

Thank you all for coming here tonight, and I hope you will all be inspired to support change that will make our cities cleaner, greener and more sustainable.