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Case study: Why green is good for hotels

Case Study | 08 Dec 2021

NABERS is helping more hotel owners to sharpen their focus on energy efficiency and speed up the transition to net zero emissions. Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach boasts NABERS Energy and Water ratings. What can we learn by looking under the bonnet of this building?

Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach

NABERS by the numbers

  • 65 hotels achieved NABERS Energy ratings in FY2021
  • 56 ratings under Energy Starters, a one-off program supported by the NSW Government, which helped 12 apartment complexes, 9 shopping centres and 5 hotels achieve ratings.
  • 242.1% increase in number of hotels with NABERS Energy ratings in just one year.

There are cost savings and environmental imperatives. We want to conserve energy and water, and minimise waste, because it is the right thing to do – but also because it’s the smart thing to do. - Gary Lopez, Senior Asset Manager for Hotels, Salter Brothers

Hotel owners like Salter Brothers understand that sustainable practices can deliver dividends – from reduced operating costs and higher profit margins to stronger brand equity, enhanced staff productivity and better guest experience.

Salter Brothers is an Australian-owned global funds management business with a focus on hotels, property, private equity, and credit. The hotel portfolio entities currently comprises more than 2,400 hotel rooms across eight hotels. With Salter Group’s hotel fund sits a portfolio of prized hotel properties around the country, including the iconic Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach, managed by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).

Salter Brothers has attracted investment partners including large sovereign wealth funds and other “committed, responsible” international investors “who want us to have the highest ESG and NABERS ratings,” says Senior Asset Manager for Hotels, Gary Lopez.

“We anticipate that people will want to know the NABERS rating for hotels in much the way they do for offices today.”

Beachside landmark Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach had a recent refurbishment completed in 2020. The upgrade covered 210 guest rooms, two restaurants, three bars and meeting spaces, as well as features invisible to the guests – like building management systems, lighting and air conditioning.

“Our opportunity, now that the work is complete, is to maintain a hotel-relevant benchmark. NABERS helps us do that,” Gary says.

Consumers will spend an average of 31% more on accommodation they know operates responsibly, according to IHG research.

Average carbon intensity for hotels with NABERS energy rating

Figure 1: Average carbon intensity for hotels with NABERS Energy ratings

Measure to manage

Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach can now lay claim to both a 3.5 star NABERS Energy rating and a 4 star NABERS Water rating, but Gary notes sustainability in the hotels space is a “work in progress”.

Salter Brothers’ has six hotel properties that are managed by IHG. With 16 brands and almost 6,000 hotels and resorts around the globe, IHG has developed a comprehensive online sustainability system called Green Engage. This measures and manages each hotel’s impact on the environment, “holds hotel managers to account” and aligns with Salter Brothers’ objectives.

Nevertheless, energy efficient operations in the hotel sector can be challenging. “Hotels aren’t always designed to be energy efficient. They have lots of large voids and open spaces,” Gary explains. Changing behaviour can be even harder. The industry has been encouraging guests “not to spend longer in the shower than they do at home, and to remember not to leave the lights on,” he says.

Crowne Plaza Sydney Coogee Beach has building management controls, including monitoring, through external system experts, on key building plant and equipment that identifies and corrects any exceptions. The guest rooms also have sensors that switch off air conditioning or lighting after a period of inactivity.

Increasingly, travellers are more mindful of their impact on the planet. A massive 82% of travellers say it is important to choose a hotel brand that operates responsibly, according to IHG’s survey of 9,000 adults across the globe in 2021.

“We will continue to monitor our property performances and look for areas where we can improve. Our managers and employees take pride in the fact that we are focused on energy efficiency, reducing waste and sustainability,” Gary concludes.

The NABERS Energy Starters program, funded by the NSW Government, helped building owners take the next step on their sustainability journeys. NABERS rating certification fees were waived, and a contribution made towards Accredited Assessor fees.

There is a new program aimed at NABERS Energy Starters running until 31 March 2022, find out more here.