Taxpayers to help deliver green hotel building blitz

An accom property giant is to build some 15 ultra energy-efficient hotels across Australia with the help of $50 million in government investment.

Pro-invest, which owns property assets worth $2 billion, aims to develop a series of Holiday Inn Express properties delivering 25 percent energy savings and achieving five-star green ratings under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS).

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Parramatta. Image supplied

Development is already underway on properties  in Sydney’s Parramatta and Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, with more planned for Sydney, Canberra and Wollongong under the IHG lifestyle brand.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), a government-owned ‘green bank’ which facilitates the flow of money into the clean energy sector, has committed $50 million to the project.

It joins around a dozen domestic and international investors to have committed a collective $300 million so far to the Pro-invest fund dedicated to hotel developments in Australia and New Zealand.

CEFC property lead Chris Wade said: “Buildings produce more than 20 percent of Australia’s total emissions, so it’s critical we put low carbon at the centre of new investment and development decisions.

“The office sector has made tremendous progress on energy efficiency. With this investment, we want to see this progress adopted right across the hospitality sector.

“Sustainable design and construction can make hotels more attractive to energy-conscious guests, as well as improve their value by making them more resilient to climate change and, in the face of rising energy prices, more energy efficient.”

Low emissions and “dramatically reduced” energy costs will feature in the CBD-based hotels to be developed, operated and managed by the property group.

The new hotels will be built with their own clean energy plans and the latest energy efficiency innovations to further reduce emissions, including low carbon construction techniques and energy efficient building management systems.

Pro-invest will also investigate buying green power and introducing carbon offset schemes across its hotel portfolio to help achieve its carbon neutral 2030 agenda.

Mr Wade said the hotel sector’s split owner-operator model can present an obstacle to low emissions adoption, with the operator largely benefiting from lower energy bills delivered through capital investment efficiency initiatives paid for by the owner.

Pro-invest is the only hotel developer, owner and manager in Australia to require NABERS energy ratings for all its hotels.

CEO Ronald Barrott said: “There is a misconception that energy efficiency is not economical. But as we have seen through our first fund, investing in sustainability measures is value accretive and will drive investor returns.

“Walking the extra mile today on energy efficiency, by designing and developing our assets in the most environmentally friendly manner, means additional rewards later, including lower costs and higher guest satisfaction and employee engagement.”

The group has already established a working relationship with the CEFC, using the corporation’s debt finance through a previous investment fund to incorporate low emissions techniques in the Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank. When built, the 345-room hotel will feature high performance glazing, high efficiency air-cooled chillers and condensing boilers, rooftop solar and regenerative lift drives.

The CEFC is responsible for investing $10 billion in clean energy projects on behalf of the Australian Government. Its mission is to help lower Australia’s carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies across the economy, through a range of finance options.

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