Access Housing opens WA’s first solar powered affordable housing development

2 Aug 2017

Access Housing has officially opened Western Australia’s first affordable housing development to feature an embedded solar energy network that will provide tenants with more affordable and sustainably sourced electricity.

The innovative development, featuring 12 residences and two art and creative studios, is one of Australia’s first strata residential properties to offer residents strata community-based solar energy capture, storage and shared usage infrastructure. The solar power network will go live before the end of the year and will become the primary source of electricity for tenants within their homes and the studios. This will deliver significant electricity bill savings to the development’s low-moderate income earning residents as they will not be solely reliant on the mains electrical grid. 

Housing Minister Hon. Peter Tinley AM MLA cuts the ribbon with SHAC members to officially open the development.

In addition to being property developer and owner, Access Housing will administer the sale of energy generated onsite. This will see the company become an energy retailer to the property, selling tenants reduced price electricity. Excess electricity generated on site will be exported to the grid for wider community use.

Access Housing’s development sits within LandCorp’s ‘One Planet Living’ accredited WGV estate and is one of the estate’s strata developments benefiting from solar power infrastructure as part of a demonstration project supported by a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). The WGV solar energy demonstration project is a partnership between LandCorp, Curtin University, Low Carbon Living CRC, Western Power, the City of Fremantle and Solar Balance. Access Housing acknowledges the funding contribution made by project partner LandCorp, which has directly assisted the company to harness solar power at its development.

Access Housing Chief Executive Officer Garry Ellender said the company’s participation in the demonstration project would offer excellent learnings for the community housing sector in the use of renewable energy infrastructure in multi-unit developments.

“Our development is an exemplar in social and environmental sustainability and, as one of Western Australia’s largest non-government developers and providers of affordable housing, Access Housing is proud to be taking part in this unique case study,” Mr Ellender said.

“We hope this project will demonstrate a viable model and business case for us to offer discounted solar energy to more tenants in the future and inspire other Community Housing Providers around the country to do the same.”

The development is being tenanted by members of the Fremantle-based Sustainable Housing for Artists and Creatives (SHAC) cooperative. The group were active participants in the design of the project to help deliver affordable housing options for members who have been priced out of the area’s housing market. The group will utilise the development’s two studios as creative workspaces for residents and the broader community as well as for meetings, exhibitions, learning and events to create a hub for economic and community activity. 

“Access Housing strives to offer our clients homes they can be proud of in locations that meet their needs and in communities they feel welcome in,” Mr Ellender said.

“SHAC members are key workers and contributors in the Fremantle economy and community. With this development having reached completion, these creative workers can now afford to reside within the Fremantle area and stay active in the well-recognised cultural and artistic fabric that the city is renowned for.” 

Fast Facts – Access Housing’s Property Development Program
(figures correct as at Wednesday 2 August 2017)
$60.26 million – the amount Access Housing has spent building or purchasing (completing) affordable homes since 2013 to tangibly increase the supply of affordable housing in WA. This total will go past $66.5 million upon completion of Access Housing’s Jervis Rise project (* see below).
270 – the number of affordable homes Access Housing has completed since 2013. This total will go to 321 upon completion of Access Housing’s Jervis Rise project (* see below).
117 – the number of affordable homes Access Housing completed in FY16/17.
191 – the number of affordable homes Access Housing has retained from its completed projects for social and affordable housing purposes.
19 – the number of affordable housing growth projects Access Housing has completed under its Community Housing Agreement with the Department of Communities (Housing) since 2013.
* 51 – the number of affordable homes currently under construction at Access Housing’s Jervis Rise development at Baldivis. Completion is due in the coming weeks and will offer a number of affordable rental and owner-occupier purchase opportunities.