Australia is set to have one of its most environmentally friendly hotels when the Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank opens on Thursday, February 6, with its developers predicting the property will use 25 per cent less energy than similar properties.
The 22-storey project, which consists of a 345-room hotel along with 370 square metres of retail space and 4500 square metres of commercial space, is targeting a projected five-star NABERS rating, which could make it the only such hotel in the country. It was boosted from a projected 4.5-star property to a five-star one after an injection of funds from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
The government-backed CEFC provided almost $40 million for construction and a term-debt facility to hotel owner Pro-invest in return for design changes to boost the hotel’s environmental credentials. The project marks the first time the CEFC has invested in the hotel sector.
NABERS – or the National Australian Built Environment Rating System – is an independent body which analyses a building’s environmental efficiency in areas such as energy, water and carbon emissions, and then gives it a ranking. As such the property’s ranking will only be confirmed after 12 months of operation.
Environmentally-friendly elements of the Melbourne hotel project include the incorporation of high-performance glazing, high-efficiency air-cooled chillers and condensing boilers and a rooftop solar system. Other initiatives include regenerative lift drives that recycle energy rather than standard lift motors, and the installation of carbon-neutral carpets.
In addition, Holiday Inn Express has committed to making the Southbank property the first in the company’s Australian portfolio to replace miniature bathroom amenities, such as shampoo and soap, with larger, more sustainable options.
Five-star NABERS properties are commonplace in the commercial office sector but the hospitality industry has been comparatively slow to get on the environmental bandwagon.
Pro-Invest Group chief executive Ronald Barrott said the hotel sector’s contribution to global emission levels was substantial.
“By its very nature the hotel industry is a high energy user, with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership estimating that tourism contributes about 5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
“It’s important for new hotels to invest in energy efficiency design and construction and incorporate state-of-the-art environmental measures across the full operation of the hotel.”
He has pledged that all future hotels built by Pro-invest would have five-star NABERS ratings, following the additional $50 million investment from the CEFC.
The hotel’s green design is intended to reduce energy consumption by 25 per cent compared with a typical Australian hotel of equivalent size and use.
“A 25 per cent reduction in energy use pays both environmental and economic dividends. It certainly requires greater investment, but in the long term we are very confident that the measures will increase the overall value of the property,” Mr Barrott said.
“In fact, given that a recent survey indicated that sustainability was the most important factor for 52 per cent of consumers when selecting a hotel, we believe our initiative can become a significant competitive advantage for the property and the brand.
“Investors are also increasingly demanding that hotel projects incorporate premium sustainability and energy-efficiency initiatives into development projects, and this has been reflected in CEFC’s additional investment of $50 million in the Pro-invest Australian Hospitality Opportunity Fund II – Australia’s first hospitality real estate fund to integrate energy sustainability in its investment criteria.”
It is the first Holiday Inn Express to open in Melbourne and the fifth in Australia, joining properties in Brisbane, Adelaide, Newcastle and Sydney’s Macquarie Park.
Pro-invest, which operates all Holiday Inn Express hotels in Australia under a master franchise agreement with the IHG hotel group, has announced plans to take its local hotel count to a combined 12 hotels by 2022, with a Holiday Inn property on Melbourne’s Little Collins Street scheduled for completion within the next two years.
Correction: An earlier version of this story carried a headline that said the hotel would have a 5-star NABERS rating. That is incorrect. It is aiming to have a 5-star rating.
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