HOTELS: The NABERS hotel tool could lead to the development of more sustainable staying places.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has announced an investment of more than $50 million covering up to 15 hotels in the popular Holiday Inn Express and IHG chains.

The government owned company is pouring a $50 million equity investment into a hotel development fund that will be managed by Pro-invest.

Entitled the Australian Hospitality Opportunity Fund II C, the investment will be earmarked for hotels that want a five-star rating in the NABERS system.

This significant investment indicates a transition toward more sustainable trends in the tourism and hospitality sector.

In related news, private hotel owner Jerry Schwartz announced his intention to open a 13,350-panel solar farm in Hunter Valley adjacent to his Crowne Plaza hotel, brewery, and conference and events centre.

This project, estimated at about $10 million according to the Australian Financial Review, will boast a capacity of 5000 megawatts, sufficient to power the neighbouring site.

Hotels historically have resisted trends that render buildings of their scale more sustainable. Between the split incentive issue that deters owners from investing in plant and equipment benefitting tenants, and the scale of work needed to render energy consuming assets up to speed, it’s not a simple issue.

Yet certain progress is made by prosperous property owners.

Accor installs solar arrays on building rooftops, adding two megawatts of solar in 2016.

Intercontinental reduced energy usage by nearly 50 percent, and gas and water by about 30 percent recently, by way of its Green Engage program.

Still and all, the hotel industry contributes about one percent to total global emissions yearly, says the World Tourism Organisation.

Yet the introduction of the NABERS rating system for hotels could inspire needed change, especially when paired with a mandatory Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) program.

The CBD is undergoing a review by the Centre for International Economics (CIE), which has discovered that the program promotes energy efficiency and emissions abatement.

Three Australian hotels have scored NABERS ratings, says the NABERS’s website. They are Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, which got a 3.5 star energy and 3 star water rating, Mercure Hotel Sydney, which got a 4 star energy and 3 star water rating, and Holiday Inn Express Sydney Macquarie Park, which got a 4.5 star rating for energy and water.