The Australian property market is changing. More people are embracing high and medium-density living, with many developments incorporating a mix of residential, retail and commercial tenants. In the Housing Industry Association’s Forecast November 2016, around 420,000 multi-units will be commenced by the year 2020.
Andrew Perry, EnergyAustralia Executive – NextGen, said the company entered the embedded networks industry in June last year to meet the growth and change in the Australian property landscape.
“One of the key drivers behind establishing an embedded networks business is the demand in high and medium-density urban living.
Living preferences are changing and will continue to evolve, and so creating an embedded networks business made sense to us,” said Mr Perry.
An embedded network is a private utility network within multi-tenanted premises. Rather than each tenant signing up to an energy retailer and negotiating the best price, the embedded network can purchase electricity for the precinct at wholesale rates and on-sell to tenants.
The tenants benefit from energy services such as electricity, bulk hot water and air-conditioning, delivered at competitive rates.
“With this service in place it now makes sense for multi-tenanted precincts of all types to derive value.”
Expertise in delivering an end-to-end service
The Embedded Networks Company offers an end-to-end service to commercial and residential developments. This model is ideal for developers seeking a stable, long-term relationship with a dedicated embedded networks provider.
Mr Perry said having the embedded networks service meant there was one provider to work with developers through the entire process.
“There’s enormous value in the continuity of service and reassurance provided as we support developers through each step – from feasibility, build and occupancy phases for suitable development projects,” Mr Perry said.
For small multi-site projects where an embedded network is not feasible, EnergyAustralia can provide alternative multi-site energy solutions that still deliver benefits to developers and tenants.
Sharing the benefits of an embedded network
According to Mr Perry, an embedded network must offer value to all parties: the developers, owners corporation and the tenants.
“An embedded network’s benefits are ample and shared. For developers it improves the marketability of their building and streamlines the delivery process during the build phases. Owners corporations benefit from a new income stream that can be used to reduce body corporate fees and common area expenses at no cost to tenants,” Mr Perry said.
Once a tenant moves into a precinct partnered with the Embedded Networks Company, they are set up to manage their account digitally.
EnergyAustralia has invested heavily to develop an online platform so that tenants enjoy a seamless customer experience from the moment they move in. They are provided online account management, receive monthly eBills, all complemented by local dedicated customer service.
Since launching the Embedded Networks Company there’s been considerable interest in emerging technologies and energy efficient solutions outside of providing electricity, which was the business’s initial offering.
“Being involved in the feasibility assessment and initial planning stage we’re finding more developers want their project to be clean and smart. Installing solar photovoltaic panels on the roof is becoming the norm. It could be an inner city apartment complex, shopping centre or even a retirement village in the suburbs,” Mr Perry said.
“As energy solutions and technologies continue to evolve, developments will combine local solar generation with storage; apartment garages will be fitted out with electric vehicle charging stations.”
Having an embedded network with smart metering also contributes towards attaining a higher Green Star energy rating that can be used in promotion of its sustainability standing, which is being expected of more and more businesses. This additionally helps them become more marketable for leasing arrangements.
“We’re exploring methods to deliver more economical energy network solutions for both developers and tenants,” Mr Perry said.
“With these evolutions in how and where we choose to live our lives, what’s certain is that more people will continue to desire greater control over their energy use and this will be enabled through smarter technology. These capabilities in energy empowerment are realistic and they’re just around the corner.”