The Environmental Captains at the school showcased their many initiatives including, “Measuring their Carbon Footprint”, where they undertook a GHG Assessment with the assistance of Pangolin Associates. Catagorising their Scope 1,2 and 3 emissions will hopefully allow them to identify clear emission reduction targets and develop strategy through 2025 and 2030. After their presentation, the group was given a tour of the beautiful rooftop gardens that they developed with the help of David Harrington.

Our guest speakers this term were the “Qute” Team from Queenwood School for Girls. We learned about their 1975 Suzuki Carry they are refurbing and transforming into an electric vehicle which will be powered by solar panels. The “Qute” will be used to transport things between the junior school and 3 senior campuses. Follow their journey here:

It was great to see participation from all the area schools including: Queenwood School for Girls, Redlands, Mosman Prep, Beauty Point PS, Blessed Sacrament, Sacred Heart, Mosman PS, Mosman High and Middle Harbour PS!

If you want to start a Zero Emission Schools Network in your own community get in touch:

Redlands Senior School

Communal Solar Power for Strata — Roadmap to $1 million in Savings & Added Value

Earlier this year I read a statement that left me a bit baffled ‘10% of Australian homes are part of a strata plan but only 0.6% of these have roof top solar’. A figure in stark contrast with 30% of Australian homes already benefitting from roof top solar and part of the world leading 3 million solar systems on Aussie homes.

As a strata resident and an active member of our body corporate I didn’t want us to miss out on the ‘boom’ and immediately set about to look for ways to make solar work for our strata community and in the process do our bit for the planet. We set out to learn more about why the strata sector is being held back and to identify the barriers and flush out the blockers. All with an intention to share the learnings with others once we had established a pathway through the supposedly impenetrable ‘jungle’.

Our starting point to put a price on inaction by constructing a ‘do-nothing’ base case, a practice I’ve used professionally for many years. Essentially the path by default we have already elected to take given the passing of time and not much else. Gathering electricity usage and billing information from fellow residents we were able to construct a financial forecast projected over a 25-year period (the equivalent service life of a solar system) and allowing for a small quite conservative annual adjustment for energy price increases. The exercise concluded that our current do-nothing case had already committed us collectively across 7 homes to over AUD $595,000 in power bills and that is without factoring in future demands of power-hungry electric vehicles (more on that later).

Aussie homes sell faster and fetch up to $125k more when energy efficient devices have been installed.

Meanwhile eager to understand the impact energy efficiency had on property values we discovered research conducted by Domain real estate into the links between energy efficiency attributes of homes and the price they achieved at sale. The study’s findings began to illuminate a solution that absent landlords previously hesitant to commit to large capital projects could get onboard with. The Domain research compared Australian property sale transaction values from 2019 to 2022, across every state and territory. The Sustainability report concluded that homes with energy efficient features sell at a premium when compared with homes with no such additions. A difference across Australia of between +$72,750 for Units and +$125,000 for Houses in 2022.

The price premium of Energy Efficient Homes compared with Non-EE Homes. Source — Domain Sustainability report 2022

Having established a projected spend for our future power bills we set about to understand how we could reduce this cost through roof top solar power. We discovered case studies from existing solar installations already realising 40–50% off their power bills. Many of the examples involving strata focused on common area supply only rather than whole of site power and therefore not maximising the potential solar benefit. Meanwhile we were keen to explore maximising the solar benefit by using new solar sharing hardware some body corporates may not be familiar with. This knowledge helped us propose a pathway to a $298,000 power bill saving potential, and when combined with the property premium we already had a project that could deliver $807,000 in benefits.

Very keen to explore sustainable strata further and to validate our initial findings we connected with our local council who offered to sponsor a future proofing apartments assessment. In turn council engaged expert consultants at WattBlock to review our specific site before making several recommendations, confident in the knowledge that they had already conducted over 1,000 similar assessments.

The intended aim of the assessment was targeted at improving strata sustainability whilst also assessing opportunities to reduce cost and in some cases add value to property. Typically, in such reviews the focus is on energy saving opportunities in common areas however recommendations often surface for owners to directly benefit where solar power sharing, efficient hot water systems and electric vehicle charging facilities are also considered.

Once delivered our future proofing assessment made several recommendations. A list of action items for individual owners to consider along with a number of suggestions for the body corporate. This latter group forming material for discussion at our next strata committee meeting. Specific decisions focused on which actions should be included in our 10-year capital works plan (a legal requirement in NSW).

Our specific Future Proofing Apartments Assessment focused on 3 areas 1) Hot Water Heating for the Individual Lots, 2) Electric Vehicle Charging Preparations and 3) Communal whole of site Solar Power.

Hot Water Heating (Combined Saving Potential $58,011 over 15 Years)

Most standalone dwellings, duplexes and townhouses in strata can save money by switching to a hot water heat pump (different to electric storage or gas instantaneous).

Savings achieved by upgrading hot water systems to a heat pump (different from individual electric storage or instantaneous gas) which typically achieve an average annual saving of $420 per dwelling per couple. The payback period of a heat pump system being between 3–5 years (faster for larger families) while the lifespan of this system can be up to 15 years.

1. Heat pumps are a much more efficient form of electric storage tank system that works on the same principle as a fridge or air conditioner, by extracting heat from the air and using it to heat water in the tank.

2. Heat pumps make particularly good sense when you have solar panels on your home — you’re powering the hot water system with your own “free” electricity.

3. Units are usually integrated (tank and compressor together) but can also be split (separate tank and compressor) and need to be installed in a well-ventilated area, usually outdoors.

4. Installation typically takes no more than two or three hours if it’s a straight replacement for a electric storage hot water system.

5. The compressor on the unit can be noisy like an external unit on air conditioning system and between (20dB (Library) — 50dB (Suburban traffic), so you can’t install them too close to a neighbouring home.

6. Government rebates and other incentives can help offset the purchase cost. They range in price from about $3,000–4,000 (not including rebate or installation).

Recommendation — That individual lot owners consider replacing existing hot water system with a heat pump when their current system fails, most appropriate timing depends largely on the systems age but should be swapped out well before the existing individual electric or instantaneous gas hot water system conks out, as it nears the end of its life and especially if considering home renovations.

Electric Vehicle Preparation (Combined Saving Potential $136,500+ over 10 Years)

Electric Vehicle (EV) take up in Australia is accelerating and is expected to ramp up significantly within the next 3–5 years. EV’s are considerably cheaper to run compared to equivalent petrol/diesel internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, achieving fuel savings of up to 70% and maintenance savings of around 40%. For an average car travelling 13,700 km per year, this could amount to annual fuel saving of $1,950 if the EV with a 50–60kW battery is able to charge at home via Solar power or $1,200 if the EV is able to charge overnight from the grid on an off-peak tariff once or twice a week (ref Drive August 2022).

At time of writing there are currently 43 different EV models available in Australia increasing to 58 by the end of 2022 (ref, many EVs now available are considered mid-price at $45–65k with a driving range of 400–550Kms and a second hand market with prices starting from $20k. Several brands have committed to going 100% electric across their product range including Nissan, General Motors, Mazda, Volvo, Land Rover & Daimler.

A recent survey of 700 strata residents in Sydney showed that 78% were in favour of installing EV charging and 61% of Sydney strata residents would prefer to charge their electric vehicle in their own parking spot.

An EV charging strategy for strata may start with some agreed communal guidelines (by-laws) and then invest more into providing base infrastructure enabling EV charging in individual car spaces over time.

To future proof whole of strata power use a plan is required well BEFORE the first EV arrives on site. Failure of the connection to the local substation due to overloading is costly both financially $80–100k and potentially legally and risks loss of power to other residents at the site (a major inconvenience).

As an example, an individual EV fitted with a battery of 50–60kW and recharged in a residents parking spot once or twice a week would require an average 10 kWh per vehicle per day of additional electricity for an entire year. Once this figure is multiplied by several vehicles and including visitor bays the demand can become problematic if not managed within the site limit (ours is 160 Amps). An individual level 2 standard home EV charger can go up to 32 Amps and we have 12 parking bays.

Recommendation — Start a strata committee discussion and pass a by-law before the first EV arrives — Add Agenda Item to next AGM. Consider a 3 staged ‘project’ 1) Install & enable electricity monitoring device to better understand existing capacity and usage, 2) Design & Install base infrastructure + Wi-Fi and finally 3) Individual lot owner Charge Point install (this phase at time and cost of owners choosing).

Solar Power (Combined Saving Potential $261,000 over 25 Years)

Making electricity from solar takes one third of the energy of making electricity with traditional generation sources such as fossil fuels coal and gas, which waste two thirds of their energy content during production and transmission. Making use of rooftop solar electricity at point of consumption is about 5 times cheaper than electricity from the grid.

The council’s Future Proofing Apartments Assessment considered 4 solar energy options for our strata 1) Individual Solar, 2) Individual Solar + Battery, 3) Communal Solar and 4) Communal Solar + Battery we have since added two more 5) Common Only Power and 6) Common Power and Individual Lots.

Following further evaluation Option 1 (Individual Solar) was dismissed due to the complexity of equitably dividing up a complex roof space 7 ways and the relatively low power production potential (i.e., 20% of current usage). Option 2 (Individual Solar + Battery) and Option 4 (Communal Solar + Battery) have already been dismissed as ineffective due to their financial business case (i.e., high cost of small batteries). Option 5 (Common Area power only) was dismissed due the relatively low power consumption and the protracted breakeven payback period.

Option 3 Communal Solar (with future battery compatibility) offers the best potential of maximising the use of the communal roof space. Targeting a 50% reduction in grid usage and is the only option that maximises our solar savings.

Recommendation — Start a strata committee discussion, include on agenda of upcoming AGM and consider including communal solar in the 10-year capital works planning process.

Battery Storage (Combined Saving Potential $52,200 over 10 Years)

In addition to solar power (above) communal battery storage was also considered with the aim of providing an additional source of power in the evening peak once the sun has gone down or on poor solar production days (in winter or heavy cloud days).

Our installation would operate the batteries combined with the communal solar solution as shared infrastructure. The preliminary assessment suggested we would need 3x 10–13kW batteries negating the need to purchase individual batteries per townhouse.

At the time of writing the expected service life of home batteries and their 10-year product warranty do not make them a viable option. This will be one to watch overtime and maybe worth revisiting once electric vehicles are more common on site (when power demands are higher) and alternative offerings in the vehicle to home/grid space have matured.

Other Learnings of Note

Green Finance — Major Australian banks are starting to offer new loan products to help homeowners with the transition to energy efficient homes and to retrofit existing homes with energy efficient devices and sustainability solutions. These loans help homeowners purchase and install energy efficient devices in their home such as heat pumps, Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure and solar power & batteries.

Green bank loans of up to $20k with ultra low interest from 0.99% fixed for 10 years help Aussie home owners transition and access benefits faster.

Rates as low as 0.99% fixed for 10 years means a $20,000 green loan costs just $200 per year to service over the 10 years (min loan $5k and max loan $20k). This investment in turn helps an owner in our strata example access over $120,000 in benefits over the same 10-year period. This benefit is made up of an increased property premium of $72,750 and $47,394 savings from installing a Heat Pump ($5,523), Home EV Charger ($19,500), Communal Solar power ($14,914) and Batteries ($7,457). Where else can you make almost a +20% return on an investment of similar size?

Useful References

Rewiring Australia —

Sharing Solar Energy (SolShare) —

Solar PV for apartments — residents share energy from their building’s solar system (Video)

To be continued….


Author Tim Prosser, reprinted with permission, from

Queenwood Junior School hosted the Zero Emissions School Network Meeting for Term 3 20220. Thank you to Mrs Sandwell and the Year 6 hosts. The Network enjoyed a waste free afternoon tea, tour and presentation of initiatives.

We also enjoyed a presentation from Geert Hendrix about Farmwall. Farmwall provides educational tools and student engagement programs to activate interest in agritech, through the STEM curriculum. From regenerative farming to growing food on Mars, they plan to get the students on board in one way or the other. Learn more about Farmwall here:

Australian clean energy challenges, innovations and solutions

Day 1 highlights

The first day focused on significant issues affecting the energy industry including Australia’s potential as a clean energy superpower, the politics of clean energy, and financing renewable energy development.

How do we position Australia as a global clean energy superpower? In his Plenary address, Kane Thornton, Clean Energy Council. set the stage for Australia’s clean energy future: “Our industry now stands ready to electrify Australia and establish us as a global clean energy superpower.”

Australia has faced recent energy challenges but there is a long-term pathway to provide clean, reliable, affordable energy for Australian homes and businesses explained Daniel Westerman, CEO, Australian Energy Market Operator.

On the scope and urgency of the clean energy transition, Chris Bowen, Australia’s new Energy Minister says “This is not a whole of government effort. This is a whole of society effort. We have 90 months to do it.”

In the panel discussion on Australia becoming a clean energy superpower. Angela Carl, QIC Global Infrastructure, explained the investment scale needed to transition to clean energy: “There is currently $1 trillion annually being invested in renewables globally, however we need to be investing $5 trillion annually to meet global emissions reduction targets by 2050!”

Finally, how will Australia decarbonise heavy industries? Australia’s decarbonisation efforts have been focused on electricity generation. With net zero targets to meet, Australia needs to accelerate its decarbonisation of heavy industry.

Day 2 highlights

Day two had several streams focusing on the key parts of Australia’s clean energy transition including renewable energy zones, integrating distributed energy resources into networks to enable the export of low-cost clean energy into adjacent networks, clean energy careers, and Australia’s hydrogen opportunity.

The breakfast briefing on the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap discussed the roles of government and corporates in providing clarity and on swiftly building new renewable energy generation.

Saul Griffith, author of The Big Switch for electrifying Australia, explained pathways for households and businesses to accelerate the clean energy transformation. It’s exciting to see how electrification reduces energy requirements. The blue line is the cost of solar and electric households with electric vehicles, and the black is the cost of a fossil fuel business-as-usual approach.

Energy Next 2022

Energy Next was a two day exhibition showcasing the latest solutions from clean energy and energy management companies, it was located next to the Australian Clean Energy Summit.

Energy Next also featured a Solar Masterclass from the Clean Energy Council, providing solar designers and installers with current expert advice on major design and installation issues currently facing the solar industry.

The Digital Trade Guide outlines the exhibitors: Energy Next Guide 2022

Thank you for your interest! With electricity prices and petrol prices rising we enjoyed discussions with over 100 people and families keen to save money and reduce emissions.

Net Zero Information Stall

Solar and Net Zero House, Strata, Businesses and Schools Info and Q&A

Marieken, Louise, Narween, Kate and Jane answered many questions and gave out our Guides on ways to reduce emissions and save money on bills. We love explaining that you can approx halve your household emissions simply by switching to a renewable energy company! Find out more

We ask would you like to save money on energy bills for 25+ years? We had many discussions about rooftop solar. Costs have come down, prices are from approx $1k per kW. Warranties have gone up, some panels have 25+ year warranties. Solar can repay your investment in as little as 3 years, and provide you with free renewable energy for many more. We have guidance, case studies and videos for Solar My House, Solar My Strata and Solar My Business.

Electric cars display and Q&A

Q&A about Hyundai Ioniq 5, Tesla Model 3 and Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Our car owners David, Milo, Narween and Alan answered many questions about electric cars, range, features and charging at home and out and about. It was a cold day and Ursula and Narween were glad to make Ioniq-powered-Ecoffee and tea for guests.

Our next car will be electric, it’s great to see options and sizes, hear what it’s like to own one, and understand what real life range is like and how often we need to charge, thank youDavid & Felicity

  • Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUV is an electric SUV with a 72.6kWh battery and approx 450 km of range, charging to 80% in approx 18 minutes at a fast charger.
  • Tesla Model 3 Sedan is an electric sedan with a 62.3kWh battery and approx 450 km of range, charging to 80% in approx 20 minutes at a fast charger (Standard Range model).
  • Toyota Corolla Hatchback is a hybrid with an electric motor and a petrol engine, giving greater fuel efficiency and with less emissions than a petrol only car.

Electric bike conversion workshop

How to convert your push bike to an electric bike

Chris and Gill brought their E-bikes and answered many questions about speed, range and price. Chris converted his pushbike into an E-bike using a DIY Swytch E Bike conversion kit and explained how easy this is to do.

The E-bike conversion kit looks small and easy, a great option for people that have a bike and want the option of electric assistance – Michael

What’s next?

Our next Info Day and EV Display is in September, let us know if you’d like to be part of our volunteer crew. we provide a T-shirt and coffee 🙂

If you can’t come along, you can access all of our info online, and you can pledge your low carbon switches and win a signed copy of Saul Griffith’s new book The Big Switch here.

Did you know that most pool pumps run at more than twice the speed they need to for 99% of the time?

Chris Lee does. Chris, a key member of our Solar My House and Solar My Business programs, has made a short video about how to dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your pool pump with a pool pump controller. It’s an easy fix which has an immediate impact on carbon emissions (and your electricity bill). If you’ve got a pool, it’s a no-brainer!

Check out Chris’s video here, and find further information below. 

If you’ve got a home energy efficiency idea, let us know or, better still, join us

Continue reading “Big savings for pool owners”

We’ve helped over 100 households switch and save money so far, and in 2022 we’re helping 100 more local homes, schools and businesses make big switches for a low carbon future.

We’d love you to join us. Switching to low carbon solutions and talking about climate solutions are things we can all do for a safer climate.

1. What difference will my switches make?

100 local homes, businesses and schools, making a few key switches could save money, and reduce 2000+ tonnes of CO2 per year – that’s the equivalent of planting 30,000 trees!

2. Award partners 

We would like to encourage and reward “local heroes” to join Our Big Switch for a low carbon future. The first 100 households, businesses or schools will receive a signed copy of Saul Griffith’s newly released book The Big Switch, and early entries will also receive a signed copy of Dr Rebecca Huntley’s How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference. These will power your switches and climate conversations!

Research shows climate conversations with friends and family make a difference, and that people are considerably more likely to make low carbon switches if they know other people who are taking action.

3. How do I participate in Our Big Switch?

1. Check out our website for switches to support renewable energy and significantly reduce your emissions
2. Enter to let us know what you’ve done and are doing next, including switching to a renewable energy company (required to win an award) ENTER TO WIN
3. Share this page and the entry form with your friends and family. Share your switches on social media.

Once you’ve entered we’ll contact you about your award and share your story online.

4. Acknowledgements 

Our Big Switch program is made possible by the 2022 Federal Volunteers Grant program, with thanks to our local Federal MP Zali Steggall OAM.

5. About Us

Zero Emissions Solution Inc is a local community group united by a common goal: taking swift, practical action on climate change. We’re a not-for-profit association of volunteers working across the Northern Beaches and the North Shore, operating as part of the national Beyond Zero Emissions zero carbon community network. We focus on practical projects that will accelerate our transition to net zero emissions solutions.

Hello sunshine! Come join like minded people taking swift, practical action on climate change. Join Our Big Switch here.

It’s one thing reading about getting solar and electrifying transport. It’s another thing to see some of the options on offer and meet people who are electrifying their homes and transport.

On March 5 we held our March quarter Net Zero Info Day and EV Display and Q&A, with Mosman Council, to bring low carbon solutions to life!

This quarter our electric vehicle display was all about two wheels. Electric bikes, scooters and motorbikes are a great, low cost, way in to the world of electric transport. They are also great fun! Come along and try one out. We had an E-cargo bike and a easy to ride E-bike for test rides. We also had a Hyundai Ioniq sedan and a Tesla Model 3 sedan for you to compare two electric sedans.

Many people enjoyed saying hello and asking questions at the Net Zero Info Stall. This quarter we focused on harnessing the sun – we’re providing our guides and answering your questions about solar, switching to a renewable energy company, switching to super that supports renewable energy and more.

Come and say hello to Louise, Marieken, Michael, Douglas, Fay, Kate and the team, enjoy the markets, check out the EV Display, get a great coffee and take climate action, all in one! Contact Marieken and Louise if you would like to join us.

Thank you Mosman Council and Councillors for your ongoing support.

If you have an electric bike, motorbike or car, bring it along next time! We love to meet EV owners, and if you are willing to show your electric car or bike, we’ll reserve a space for you. Contact Ursula to find out more, and come join Ursula Alan, Milo, James, Michelle and West at our next display.

We’re glad you asked.

Subscribing to our newsletter is a great way to be involved. Sharing it with your friends and joining us on social media helps even more as we’re build a community of like-minded locals passionate about sustainability and low carbon living.

Looking for something more, something meaningful and fun? We would love you join our volunteer team! ZESN Volunteers working group has grant funding to expand our impact and we’ve launched Our Big Switch to help 100 local homes, businesses and schools make low carbon switches. Anyone interested can contact Ursula, Fay or Narween.

Electric car and Electric bike owners and displays

If you are delighted by your EV, or you are enjoying your electric bike, come and show it off at one of our regular EV show-and-tells. We hold these at least once a quarter at the Mosman Markets, and are looking at larger events. Contact Ursula, Alan or Chris and we can tell you all about it.

Zero Emissions Info Stall market team

Our friendly volunteer team is at Mosman Markets four times this year, and plans to new areas. Would you be interested in doing a stall on the Northern Beaches or North Shore? We provide equipment, signs, training and back-up. Contact Louise or Marieken for more details.

Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Insta & LinkedIn!

Between them, Ursula and Marieken do most of Zero’s social media. It’s a great way to build community, but it takes time! If you love twitter, are nifty on instagram, or want to launch the Zero Emissions Solutions Tiktok account, we want to hear from you. Contact Marieken to find out more.

Council Reps

Working with our local councils can be a rewarding and have real impact. We have representatives working with Mosman, Northern Beaches and North Sydney but would welcome people who want to get involved with councils including Willoughby and Lane Cove. Contact Ursula to find out more.

Presentations and Events

We’ve presented over 70 free information sessions on rooftop solar, renewable energy, EVs and more. Over the last three years, thousands of households have come to our presentations. We welcome people getting involved, either in organising presentations and events, or on centre stage! Contact Ann-Charlott or Ursula to find out more.

Schools Network

Last year Jenni Hagland, working with ZESN and Mosman Council. brought all eight schools in Mosman together to form the Zero Emissions Schools Network! The program continues this year, with plans to hold an Expo and awards ceremony later in the year. There’s lots to do, and huge amounts of enthusiasm. Join the team or find out more by contacting Jenni.

Collaborations and new ZESN programs are welcome!

We have successful co-branded collaborations with SolarPro, Diamond Energy, The Good Car Company and Mosman Council. We’re happy to discuss further collaborations!

Do you have big ideas? Are you wanting to make a difference? We’d love to help YOU. If you have an idea for an action or an initiative in the Northern Beaches or North Shore, we can help, whether it’s sharing information or contacts, acting as a sounding board, or even supporting you to develop a new program under the Zero Emissions Solutions brand umbrella. Let’s talk!

It’s been back to school for students, and back to school for Zero Emissions Solutions at our final network meeting for the year, hosted by Sacred Heart Mosman.

Staff and students from Sacred Heart Mosman gave an inspiring presentation on their sustainability journey. We love how the whole school community is involved — including staff, students, parents and the broader community. And we love how sustainability measures are integrated into the curriculum and into everyday life.

Just a few highlights:

waste reduction recyclingBINS bins bins

All the colours, and with great signage. Congratulations to the student representative council (SRC) for running Waste-free Wednesdays and reducing waste by 75% –from 8 red bins down to just 2 a day.

Gardening sustainable schoolsThe Sustainable Garden

A learning centre for all grades, from watching how things grow in K-1 to, in years 5 and 6, an integrated STEM project on garden bed design, including researching plants, mulch and irrigation options. Everyone is a gardener!


Students learning about gardeningIndigenous Perspectives

Regular visits from David Harrington of Stones and Bones, a learning partner who combines indigenous perspectives and sustainable gardening skills. Bushcraft, story telling, science and first nations wisdom and lots of fun!


A message from Jenni and the schools team:

This was the last meeting of the year. Reflecting back on our first meeting in Feb, it is amazing to think how each and every school was at a different place on their sustainable journey when we started.  With some schools, progress was well under way and we want to thank you for sharing your initiatives with us over the past year.  For some other schools just starting this journey, we just want to say how inspired we are by your efforts and enthusiasm.  We know all too well what a huge challenge it is to address sustainability at the school when you are working at it alone on top of your normal role.  You are all doing an amazing job and we thank you for attending these meetings and sharing in your journey and progress.

Together we can do it better and make it easier.

The first meeting of 2022 will be the 16th March hosted by Mosman Prep, hopefully in person! In the mean time, read more about our schools program here.