A field of 55 nominees – the biggest number yet for an AHI Awards cycle – produced 10 very special individuals, teams and projects who were anointed as both winners and highly commended recipients at this year’s AHI Professional Excellence in Housing Awards Australasian ceremony.


Winner: Stucco, Solar+Storage, Stucco Co-Operative NSW

 What the judges said:
“Not only was this a great achievement for the low-income students here to help them save money and move their homes towards carbon-neutral, it also exemplified how co-operative housing can achieve some great things with residents working together. The ultimate benefits will be felt throughout strata and unit blocks residential sphere because their work has shown how introducing solar power in the sector is possible. The outcome was one that ticked all the boxes for the Committee.”

Phil Fagan-Schmidt, Executive Director of Housing S.A, had the honours when it came to presenting the Tenant-Led Initiative Award. The winner was the Stucco Solar+Storage project by the Stucco Co-Operative of NSW.

With an Australian-first installation of 114 solar panels and 36 batteries at the Stucco Student Housing Cooperative, university students Bjorn Sturmberg, Louis Van Rensburg and Sarah King demonstrated the important benefits and energy cost-savings for low-income residents, tenants and body corporate groups in the residential apartment sector, as well as ways to overcome barriers that prevent the uptake of renewable energy.

Taking more than 18 months to complete, the Co-Op faced unprecedented regulatory, legal and technical barriers in seeing the project come to fruition. However, they have already begun to re-shape the governance structures that for so long have been a major stumbling block to retro-fitting body corporate structures with clean energy alternatives.

“Climate change is something that young people are very passionate about and something that we’re going to be living with the outcomes of,” said Sarah King when accepting the award on behalf of the Co-Op. “So having a local project like this achieve what we did just goes to show the impact of local, grassroots efforts – people who have ideas and come together and don’t give up because there were a lot of setbacks to this project.”

“Also,” she added, “I think it shows when you give tenants agency in their housing that they can achieve bigger things than you can imagine.”