Ecostore Building NZ's 1st Net Zero Energy Commercial Building
Ecostore Building New Zealand’s First Net Zero Energy Commercial Building
8 October 2013 – The installation of 48 solar panels on the roof of the 1 Scotland Street building (home of ecostore retail shop and Lily & Louis PR) in Freeman’s Bay, marks a historical moment this week resulting in New Zealand’s first net zero energy commercial building. The building will run entirely on solar power from the highly efficient solar panels, designed to generate over 17,500 kWh a year, which is expected to be enough to power the entire building all of its electricity requirements.
ecostore’s not for profit arm, Fairground Foundation has been instrumental in this project coming to life.
“The Fairground Foundation has been set up to take on projects that have traditionally been seen as too hard, making them commercially viable and then passing the learnings back to the general community. This project fits in perfectly with Fairground’s mission creating a healthier, more sustainable world through on-the-ground action, hence the enthusiasm for coordinating this project which has taken over 14 months,” says Malcolm Rands, ecostore founder and owner.
Vector Limited (Vector) currently operates a solar pilot residential programme with a limited number of Auckland homeowners, one of which includes Rands.
“The idea is to bring smarter energy choices to all Aucklanders. We have taken the learnings from our early successes in the residential solar programme and are applying them in new areas,” says Simon Mackenzie, CEO of Vector.
The solar system allows solar power to be intelligently integrated into Vector’s electricity network. By combining solar panels with battery storage and a smart control system, the energy produced from the solar panels can be stored and used both when it is needed in the building and during times of peak network demand.
The batteries are a Lithium-ion battery pack, the same technology used in the car industry to power hybrid electric vehicles. The batteries also provide a measure of resilience with some backup in the unlikely event of a grid outage.
The tenants at 1 Scotland Street will not be required to change their electricity usage behaviour to achieve the net zero energy result.
Mackenzie says “In New Zealand now, the cost of solar continues to fall and Vector is leading the way.
“Our research shows that giving people real time feedback about their usage leads to lower consumption.”
The early stages of this project highlighted areas where further savings can be made so there is the possibility that the building could become a net positive energy building.
A fixed monthly fee is all that is required for the solar services.
“We look upon this investment as a commercially viable long term solution that costs no more than purchasing the same amount of power from the local grid. In addition I believe it adds value to the building,” says Jon Ramage, joint landlord with Jacqui Ansin, home to ecostore retail and the owners of Lily & Louis PR.
Rands certainly leads the way with renewable energy.
“We’ve been solar energy efficient at home, at the ecostore East Tamaki factory and now at ecostore. It’s a great feeling to know you are doing the right thing,” says Rands.