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Big electricity savings expected for Sydney car dealership, with finance from CEFC, CommBank

2 April 2015

A major installation at leading Sydney car dealership Col Crawford Lifestyle Cars demonstrates the enormous potential of solar and LED lighting to increase industry productivity and competitiveness.

The 50-year-old Col Crawford family business, a respected business in Sydney's Northern Beaches, is positioning itself for the future utilising new technology which is bringing us into a lower carbon economy, by installing 1,000 solar panels, including an innovative solar car park shading structure, and more than 1,000 LED lights.

Stage 1 of the project, which includes 100kW Solar PV and lighting, has been funded through a $320,000 Energy Efficient Loan, an initiative of the Commonwealth Bank and Australia's Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Says CEFC CEO Oliver Yates: "Solar and energy efficiency have the potential to benefit a very wide range of commercial activities, and make a real and positive difference to the bottom line. Car dealerships are a presence right across the Australian economy, and investments such as the innovative solar and LED lighting project by Col Crawford make very good business sense for car dealers, while contributing to reduced emissions."

The motor vehicle dealers industry is a major employer and business generator in the Australian economy, comprising almost 4,600 businesses, with annual revenue expected to exceed $61.7 billion by June 30 2015 . The sector has particular energy needs due to floorspace and security requirements, with air conditioning and lighting comprising major components of their energy bills.

Col Crawford Lifestyle Cars Managing Director Stephen Crawford said the lighting upgrade and solar installation demonstrated that "going green simply makes good business sense".

"The car manufacturers we work with have been working tremendously hard over some decades now to build green cars, from currently available hybrid vehicles to full electric cars," Mr Crawford said. "I see that the buildings in our dealership can evolve in a similar way, using energy in a sustainable, non-polluting way."

The Col Crawford project was designed and installed by award winning sustainable energy company Autonomous Energy, which has been operating 12 years and offers a wide range of high quality, cost-effective systems and solutions.

Autonomous Energy Director Mark Gadd said the project sets a new standard for the entire automotive dealership industry in Australia. "This project is genuinely ground-breaking as approximately half of all the solar panels are integrated into a new solar car park shading structure that generates pollution-free solar electricity at the same time as providing shade and cover from rain for parking," Mr Gadd said.

When completed, the project will include the installation of some 260kW of rooftop solar PV, as well as new LED lighting. Autonomous Energy estimates the annual electricity savings achieved through the solar and lighting upgrades will be equivalent to the energy needs of 200 houses.

The installation of new LED lighting was able to generate tradable energy savings certificates under the NSW Government's Energy Savings Scheme to offset the cost of the replacement.


Col Crawford Lifestyle Cars is a family-owned group, which employs more than 235 people across the organisation, has eight dealerships, five used-car operations and a servicing and spare parts business on Sydney's Northern Beaches. Dealerships include BMW, Holden, Suzuki, Kia, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai and Renault. Col Crawford Lifestyle Cars is a well-known corporate citizen of Sydney's Northern Beaches through its sponsorships and charity activities.

About the Energy Efficient Loan Program

The CEFC and Commonwealth Bank are co-financing loans designed for businesses to save on their energy costs under the Energy Efficient Loan (EEL) program. The EEL is available Australia-wide as a cost-effective financing solution to help businesses upgrade equipment to reduce their energy costs while preserving precious working capital.  

More information about the Energy Efficient Loan program is available from local Commonwealth Bank representatives, or by phoning 1800 277 387.

Media release, 2015

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