It’s rated 6 Star NABERS, it’s carbon neutral, has electric car charging stations and a host of other sustainability features, and greenies like Bob Brown and David Suzuki make a point of staying there when they’re in Melbourne.

It’s the Alto on Bourke Hotel, and it’s now up for sale in what’s considered one of the first tests of the market for a sustainable hotel in Australia.

According to the agent, CBRE Hotels’ Joseph Du Rieu, the “social conscience” market is just about ripe for the testing.

“The market has not yet been tested with a hotel that dominates in the environmental stakes,” Mr Du Rieu said.

“Given the growing social conscience, we believe purchasers will be attracted by the sustainable nature of the investment.”

For the vendors Suzanne and Ricardo Krauskopf, it could be a nice reward for the work they’ve ploughed in to realise their dream of being green – possibly reaping them about $20 million if our market sources are correct.

The history of the hotel is itself interesting, with the original building constructed in 1914 by the Victorian Railways Union, with members offering free labour and recycled materials “where possible”, records show.

The Krauskopfs bought the hotel in 1999 and in 2006 expanded and refurbished the property aiming for the highest green stars and four regular hotel stars.

It now has more than 50 rooms over six floors; it’s heated, cooled and lit (with LEDs) throughout using movement sensors, there is waste separation, low energy televisions, water saving bathrooms, bees on the roof producing honey served to guests and a policy of low consumption wherever possible.

Awards include from Conde Nast, Qantas, TripAdvisor, RACV and Tourism Victoria.

A case study on the hotel produced by City of Melbourne’s 1200 Buildings Program notes the overall costs of the upgrade was $8 million producing annual saving $50,000.

The case study says: “Heritage buildings are notoriously energy inefficient: they suck up energy and waste water and the airconditioning is usually primitive. High ceilings and large rooms take a lot more energy to cool or heat. Old buildings also tend to have very minimal or no insulation, which is a major concern for hoteliers.

“The development at Alto Hotel preceded any state and commonwealth government incentives for energy efficiency. At the time, the efficiency technologies were less well known, so in many ways, the owners were pioneers in efficient building design and construction.”

On airconditioning it notes six star rated energy efficient units were not available locally and needed to be imported.

“The system deals with very low heat transfer between rooms and floors and ceilings because of the floor and ceiling insulation, the Hebel bricks and the double glazed windows. Therefore, the rooms need very little heating or cooling. Each room is heated or cooled independently and controlled by the guest.”

Sensors minimise waste.

See the full case study

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