Benefits of installing solar for local businesses

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Two tradesmen installing solar panels on a roof on a cloudy day

We spoke to KeepCup Co-Founder and Managing Director, Abigail Forsyth, about powering the Clifton Hill business headquarters with solar energy.

Abigail has some great tips for other local businesses and why now is the best time to go solar (if you haven’t already). 

What size solar system did you install and when?

Our offices in Australia have been solar powered since 2015, when we installed a 15 kilowatt system at our previous headquarters in Fitzroy. When we left this location, we paid it forward to the new tenant, who continue to use the solar power system today. 

In 2019 we moved our Australian offices to a new location in Clifton Hill and installed a 76 kilowatt solar array on our roof. We use eleXsys (electricity export system), Planet Ark Power’s technology, to export excess power back into the grid. 

What motivated you to install solar power?  

Perhaps the most impactful thing we can do is make the transition to renewables. It is part of our purpose as a business to reduce impact, it’s the right thing to do and lifts the standard for commercial premises in Australia and globally.

What steps were involved in deciding on the installer and system size? 

We researched thoroughly to find knowledgeable service providers, comparing three quotes before making our choice. We also never underestimated good advice – seeking guidance from those who had been through the process before us. Learning from others’ experience helped us greatly in setting a course.

Tell us about how you went about approaching your landlord. Any tips for other businesses? 

Our premises is owned by the business and landlord approval was not needed, however in terms of tips, consider the following:

  • Try to understand where the property owner is coming from in terms of the future development of the building, to think about what improvements they will be open to supporting. 
  • Think about what is going to add most value, long and short term to your business – how much value does a bright and inviting space, add to employees and customers? 
  • If you can, finding a great property owner is a real help, not only with installing solar and other energy efficiencies for the building but also in doing business. 
  • Finally, do your homework in understanding and laying out the benefits of instant asset write offs. 

What advice do you have for business thinking about installing solar?  

Do it! As they say, the best time to install commercial solar was ten years ago, the second best time is now.

What other sustainability initiatives have KeepCup  implemented?

Reducing impact is baked into every decision we make – our office is single use free, we compost on site, we just introduced reusables pallet straps as an alternate to shrink wrap.  Most significantly we worked with our stainless steel manufacturer to ship our products without individual plastic bags for each product – this is standard industry practice and requires urgent change. But it is not customer facing and requires a change in process, so it does not attract attention, but its impacts are significant. This is where employees within organisations are so powerful in working to change processes.

For more information about switching your local business to solar, visit our business sustainability pages, or contact the Yarra Energy Foundation to discuss your options.


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