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Selvatica is a coffee roastery and indoor plant nursery in Coburg in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.  A family business located in a former factory; the outside gives no hint of the lush tangle of indoor plants that lays within.   

Co-owned by horticulturist Chris, her husband Seb and her coffee-roaster brother-in-law Mauro, Selvatica opened in May 2019 and aims to be as sustainable as possible.  

“There is no planet B,” says Chris. “One thing we have done as a business is try and offset our energy use by putting solar panels on, and to try and be as sustainable as we can.” 

“This is my first time putting solar on a business,” says Chris. But I think I’ve put it on five houses! Every time we move it’s solar panels that are the first thing to go on, and then we leave them behind when we move. I think I'm single-handedly solarizing Victoria just by moving all the time,” she laughs. 

Chris says, installing solar PV on the building housing Selvatica has had a positive impact on the small business's bottom line.  

“I’ve run hospitality businesses in the past and just seen a lot of the profit go in electricity bills. Now with solar on the building it's just so much easier to do business because there aren’t the massive overheads, and we just don't have that massive commitment every month of a huge electricity bill. I think we've paid about $150 odd for the first four months of the year in electricity bills which is pretty great and the solar covers the rest of it,” she says.  

Like many small businesses, Selvatica rents the premises they operate from so Chris needed her rental providers permission before going ahead and installing the solar PV system.  

“It was pretty easy speaking with the landlord.  We said can we put solar panels on your building and they said yes by all means upgrade our infrastructure! It was not a difficult conversation at all and we've got a 20-year lease so we know that we'll more than pay off the solar panels in the time,” she says.  

With the savings they are making and the emissions they are saving, it’s no surprise that Chris is a strong advocate for installing solar PV. 

“Just do it,” she says when asked what her advice would be for other small businesses considering installing solar. “Do it for the planet, do it for your community do it because it's the right thing to do and because you're going to save outrageous amounts of money!” 

Solar Victoria’s Solar for Business rebate offers eligible businesses a rebate to cover up to 50 per cent of the cost of a rooftop solar system up to a maximum rebate of $3,500 to reduce the upfront cost of installing solar. 

Reviewed 07 June 2021

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