Australia’s largest independent not-for-profit aged care provider Bolton Clarke is rolling out solar power across more than 20 of its residential facilities in Queensland and New South Wales.

The initiative is expected to remove more than 3,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the environment every year.

The program of work – which includes recent solar installations at Bolton Clarke’s Thornlands, Banora Point and Currumbin Waters sites – follows the commissioning of solar photovoltaic systems at facilities in Longreach and Bowen in 2019.

Three 13.kW Tesla Powerwall batteries have also been installed in the Bowen site to further reduce energy consumption.

Additional solar installations are underway at homes in Parkinson and Townsville.

Bolton Clarke’s general manager property development James Mantis said the solar expansion would result in a total annual generation capacity of about 4.5 million kilo watt hours.

The solar installs build on the provider’s work with the Queensland University of Technology and other research organisations to develop sustainable and energy efficient communities.

An ongoing project at Bolton Clarke’s Fern Hill site in Caboolture aims to advance the aged care industry’s transition to a low emissions future by testing new technologies to reduce energy consumption.

A range of sensors have been installed in the facility to identify temperature, humidity, CO2, motion, air pressure and illuminance, along with reed switches that detect when windows are opened or closed.

“These sensors are used to determine the baseline for building envelope thermal resistance and the activities schedules of occupants,” said Mr Mantis. “The baseline findings show energy use is correlated with external temperature, highlighting the big impact of heating and cooling loads on total energy consumption.”

The project has also tested the air-tightness of the building and monitored changes in air-conditioning performance. Honeycomb blinds have been installed to reduce thermal transmission in the test rooms.

Bolton Clarke has been a key stakeholder and industry reference point for the development and implementation of the National Australian Built Environment Systems across residential aged care communities.

NABER star ratings for energy and water in residential aged care homes were introduced in September 2021.

Main image: Bolton Clarke’s Thornlands facility in Queensland

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