The future of hotel sustainability: NABERS' new requirements explained

September 19, 2023

With NABERS expanding into new asset classes, there are plans to make energy requirements mandatory for hotels. Here is what we know so far.

What are the upcoming NABERS requirements for new hotels?

New whole-of-building hotels or motels with at least 100 rooms, or serviced apartments with at least 100 apartments, must:

  • Identify the preferred Section J energy reporting pathway and submit a NABERS Commitment Agreement with a development application.
  • Submit Section J report and any independent review or performance-based solutions at the construction certificate stage.
  • Achieve minimum 4 Star NABERS rating within 24 months of occupation certificate.

Section J of the National Construction Code (NCC) deals with energy efficiency provisions for new commercial buildings, institutional buildings and apartment building common areas.

When might these requirements come into effect?

These requirements are set to be effective from October 2023.

How will the requirements impact existing hotels?

The industry is anticipating similar requirements around minimum NABERS ratings will soon apply to all hotels with more 100 rooms, both new and existing.

What ratings are available for hotel buildings?

A hotel building can get:

  • Energy efficiency rated
  • Water efficiency rated  
  • Waste management verified
  • Carbon neutral certification

Energy efficiency  

A NABERS Energy rating is a measure of the energy efficiency of your hotel building’s operation, giving you a fair reflection of how you are progressing against your energy-saving commitments.

Water efficiency

A NABERS Water rating measures the amount of water used and recycled within your hotel building.

Waste management  

NABERS Waste tools measure how well buildings manage waste generation, recycling and resource recovery, and supply chain management. NABERS can provide an independent measurement of the recycling and resource recovery performance of your hotel building.

Carbon Neutral Certification  

For hotel buildings that achieve a minimum of 3 stars for NABERS Energy, NABERS offers a pathway to achieve Climate Active Carbon Neutral Certification.

Why is a high NABERS rating important?

With nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions coming from the built environment, it is becoming increasingly important for commercial property owners to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and take action to reduce their ecological footprint. Achieving a high NABERS rating is one way to do this, with a high rating yielding numerous benefits for property owners, investors and tenants, beyond the obvious improved environmental impact.

Here is an overview of just some of the many benefits of having a high NABERS rating:

  • Reduced environmental impact: A good NABERS rating signifies that the building operates with greater energy efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced resource consumption, thereby contributing to environmental sustainability and combating climate change.
  • Reduced operating costs: NABERS focuses on energy efficiency, which directly translates into reduced operating costs and significant financial savings through lower energy consumption and utility bills.
  • Increased market value and rental income: A higher NABERS rating serves as a powerful marketing tool, attracting environmentally conscious tenants and investors who value sustainable practices.
  • Lower vacancy rates: A high NABERS rating can improve lease renewal rates and tenant satisfaction, as tenants are more likely to stay in a building that offers a healthy and energy-efficient working environment.
  • Environmental leadership: A high NABERS rating demonstrates a property owner's dedication to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. It showcases their efforts to minimise environmental impact and contribute positively to the community.

How do you get a NABERS rating?

The short answer is accredited assessors will collect consumption data for your building (think electricity and gas bills) alongside data pertaining to a variety of other building specifics such as size, hours of occupation, climate location and density of occupation.

NABERS assessors are a professional team of sustainability consultants, trained and accredited to perform NABERS ratings. While accredited through the NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE) who administer the program, they operate independently and are not employed by DPIE.

While there are no formal pre-requisites to attend the training, most assessors have experience in the building services, property or energy management industries.

The process may sound straightforward and set for DIY, however it is quite complex and requires significant preparation. CIM can guide you through the process of what to expect and how to prepare for your NABERS assessment to ensure that you get the best assessment possible.

Where does building analytics come in?

The use of building analytics software, such as CIM’s innovative PEAK Platform, can greatly assist hotel owners and managers to prepare for a favourable NABERS rating by providing valuable insights, data analysis and proactive management of building performance.

Here are some ways in which building analytics software can contribute to a higher NABERS rating:

  • Real-time monitoring: PEAK continuously monitors and analyses energy consumption, water usage, indoor environment conditions and other key performance indicators. Its real-time data provides instant visibility into building performance, allowing owners to identify inefficiencies or building faults promptly.
  • Fault detection and diagnostics: PEAK automatically detects deviations from optimal performance and identifies equipment or system faults. By pinpointing issues such as malfunctioning equipment, inefficient operations or excessive energy use, building owners can quickly address them and make necessary improvements to optimise energy efficiency and performance.
  • Predictive maintenance: PEAK leverages advanced machine learning algorithms to predict equipment failures or performance degradation. This early detection enables proactive maintenance, which minimises downtime, reduces energy waste and contributes to a higher NABERS rating
  • Energy optimisation: By providing detailed insights into energy consumption patterns and resource usage, PEAK identifies areas of high consumption, peak demand periods and opportunities for optimisation. With this information, building owners can implement energy saving measures, such as load management strategies or equipment upgrades, to improve their NABERS rating

When it comes to helping our clients improve their NABERS ratings, our experience speaks for itself. CIM and the Kyko Group were able to increase the NABERS star rating by four stars in three years for their building at 99 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, which for Bill Jenkings, director of the Kyko Group, was an outstanding effort.

“In terms of the quantum reduction in energy consumption, CIM’s PEAK platform has exceeded our expectations,” Jenkings says. “At this site, energy consumption has been reduced by 15%. Our indicative NABERS rating was 1.5 stars on this building and we were targeting 4.5 stars and with CIM’s help, we were able to achieve 5.5 stars.”

For more information on how CIM helped the Kyko Group improve their NABERS rating, check out the 99 Elizabeth Street case study.

How has CIM’s PEAK Platform helped other hotels to improve operational efficiency?

Hear from two of our satisfied customers from Canberra’s East Hotel who are applying the power of a data-driven approach to their hotel operations.

“Due to a lack of transparency and visibility of our operational data, we sought a technology provider to help us run our hotel more efficiently. By working collaboratively with CIM, they provided the technology and insights for us to unlock operational benefits beyond our expectations.” - Peter Bisa, Financial Controller, East Hotel
“CIM’s incredible approach to customer engagement and their powerful PEAK Platform meant they earned our trust extremely fast. Throughout our time working together, their insights have always been precise and empowering. Without a doubt, they are part of our wider facilities management team.” - Tim Murdoch, Facilities Manager, East Hotel
Mohammad Sadozai
September 19, 2023