Case Study: Richmond West PS

YEF helped Richmond West PS achieve an annual savings of over $13,000, and annual emission reductions of more than 66 tonnes.

With a desire to minimise their school’s carbon footprint, Richmond West wanted to upgrade their existing 5 kW system. Through an installation of an additional 20 kW plus LED retrofits, the school has now saved significantly on energy costs and reduced their carbon emissions by more than 66 tonnes annually.

“Richmond West Primary School has a history of sustainability. Part of our big picture plan is to reduce the school’s footprint across a range of areas such as energy, recycling, water usage, kitchen gardening, composting and increasing active transport across the community. Solar panels and an LED retrofit was seen as the next logical step in achieving these long term goals.”

- Paul Ledwidge, Principal


First step: LED Lighting

An important first step for Richmond West PS was replacing their existing lights with LEDs. Over 250 lights were changed resulting in initial savings to lighting costs of 62%. A far more efficient option than fluorescents, this positioned the school well to use solar for the bulk of their ongoing energy needs. LEDs are also rated to last up to 50,000 hours, which considerably reduces ongoing maintenance costs.

Second Step: Solar

YEF and Cherry Energy Solutions determined that for Richmond, a solar panel installation had potential to dramatically reduce the school’s reliance on external energy provision from the grid. A 20kW solar system was installed on the school’s roof. As the school uses almost all it’s energy during daylight hours, solar power can meet the bulk of ongoing energy demands, and provides even more than what is needed during midday hours.


Environmental upgrades for buildings can attract funding from a variety of external bodies. Richmond West Primary was able to leverage public grants for their lighting and solar upgrade. The school implemented their project via a Sustainable Melbourne Fund repayment plan. The current Federal Incentive program, available through Cherry Energy Solutions, reduced the cost of the solar system by about $12,000. The overall project was cashflow positive over the life of the funding period.

What We Did

Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) and Cherry Energy Solutions worked together to support Richmond West to transition to low-carbon energy use. The amount of energy information and options available to organisations can be overwhelming, however YEF and Cherry were able to provide the most useful and relevant information, services and outcomes tailored specifically to Richmond West’s needs, desires, and budget. With the goal of reducing carbon use in the City of Yarra, YEF is proud to have partnered with Richmond West and continues to offer services free of charge to achieve similar outcomes in other schools.

The Result

Through a process of energy efficiency measures combined with a solar installation, Richmond West PS has achieved annual savings of over $13,000, energy savings of over 52 kWh per year and annual emission reductions of more than 66 tonnes. In addition to this, Richmond West installed LED screens that display the real-time energy use of the school and energy production of the solar panels. This provides a uniquely engaging way of educating students about solar, and bringing a level of excitement to the school community about their achievements of reducing carbon emissions.


System Type 20 kW Solar LED retrofit
Electricity Reduction up to 100% 62%
Annual Maintenance & Energy Savings (approx) $5,270 $8,500
Total Payback Period 5 years
Total kWh Savings p.a. 53,646 kWh
Total Emissions reduction p.a. 66.5 tonnes CO2
Total savings p.a. $13,770.00