Four Pillars gin distillery goes solar
Founded in 2013, Four Pillars Gin is a craft distillery based in Healesville in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley.
Four Pillars Distillery houses an original copper still called Wilma, named after co-founder Cameron McKenzie’s late mother. With the expanded business’s production stills, which now include Jude, Eileen, Beth and Coral, Four Pillars has become a destination, a household name and is internationally recognised for excellence.
Currently, Four Pillars has six gins in their range as well as two marmalades that are made using the fresh organic oranges that are steamed during the distillation process. Four Pillars Gin is upcycling approximately 5t of gin-steamed oranges to produce an orange marmalade and a breakfast negroni marmalade in partnership with a local business.
Being eligible for low-cost finance from the Sustainable Australia Fund (SAF), Four Pillars installed 65.88 kW of solar comprising 305W Q-CELLS panels and Fronius inverters at its Healesville site.
Solar installation is done by Cherry Energy Solutions. It is one of the trusted local installer partners selected by SAF to meet its high required standards of system design and workmanship. While carrying solar installation, they used black-framed panels to match the style of the boutique distillery building.
Going solar reduced the burden on the grid around Healesville. The 10 years of finance agreement will reduce carbon emissions by some 1,600 tCO2-e which will be equivalent of powering 185 homes a year.
To promote environmental upgrades, City of Melbourne has established a unique new form of finance in 2002 with no upfront cost, low interest, long payback period. It is done to increase the sustainability of the city’s buildings. In 2020, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $630,000 in expanded funding for the Sustainable Australia Fund (SAF) and its successful Better Building Finance service to New South Wales and South Australia.
At Four Pillars, rooftop solar saves $12,800 in energy bills each year. This solar system was financed through an Environmental Upgrade Agreement, via SAF. More than 40 councils around Australia are now partnered with the SAF program.
The SAF was originally established by the City of Melbourne, where it provided low-cost financing under the Environmental Upgrade Finance (EUF) program.
“Like all growing businesses, we have various loans and finance arrangements for building works and equipment. This was the easiest and fastest project we’ve ever worked on.” It has been “easy, transparent and rewarding”, says McKenzie.
Its long payback period, low interest and low repayments helped the business to make money from the upgrades the very first year.
Four Pillars is the seventh Environmental Upgrade Agreement provided within the area of Yarra Ranges Council. The distillery’s agreement is with SAF, and Yarra Ranges Council which administers the repayments.
Four Pillars is planning a $6 million expansion of its facility, to be designed by sustainability specialists, Breathe Architecture, which will incorporate more solar as well as waste reduction initiatives.
Environmental Upgrade Financing has funded the Aurrum Aged Care, in Healesville, to install a 96 kW, 300-panel rooftop solar system. It is found that during hot summer days and at times of peak power consumption, the facility could renewably produce 85% of its electricity needs.
Apart from solar installations, projects that may qualify for Environmental Upgrade Finance include energy-efficient lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, as well as projects that minimise water use and waste. The finance is only available for upgrades to non-residential buildings.
Environmental Upgrade Finance makes it easy for non-residential buildings or businesses to grab any opportunity to be more sustainable. They feel environmentally that is the right thing to do for a greener, cleaner future.