A Case for Sustainable Development: Hotel Verde

Case 1 – Hotel Verde

Sustainable Development is a large and looming topic that is gripping the Temporary Housing sector and as our Director René Stegmann has grown to realise, the topic also sets in a sense of paralysis which is not helping drive the topic and action towards authentic sustainable impact.

 

René is a shareholder of MyResidence.Africa, an agent with a supply chain of over 400 properties and 11 000 rooms on the continent of Africa. We believe in positive change and have taken certain steps to enforce our vision. MyResidence.Africa has a low impact on carbon emissions which is the most urgent aspect of sustainable development to tackle but this does not stop their actions to aim for a “climate positive” impact. In our own office building, we have a rain tank, solar panels, an edible vegetable garden and low energy motion-triggered lighting.  MyResidence knows that carbon reduction is only one element of the 17 sustainable development goals so their work in ernest towards the other 16 goals, continues. For this case we need to focus on how MyResidence can educate their large supply chain to join them in the journey of reduced carbon emissions (which essentially is tackling the Scope 3 emissions for more technical terminology).

 

The MyResidence team thought it best to demonstrate some of this through an interesting case study. Hoping to incentivise their property partners to consider elements that are easier to implement and less capital intensive.

 

We went to visit ‘Africa’s Greenest Hotel’, The Hotel Verde, based at the Cape Town International Airport, which has won multiple sustainability awards and retaining the title of design has sustainability at its core. Not only is the building sustainable, but green principles, processes and measures ensure all operations are eco-friendly and continually assessed for improvement. The hotel has a LEED certification for both their building and the operations, there are various globally recognised certifications for the hospitality sector and LEED is globally recognised standard, there are others such as the Green Star which is awarded by the Green Building Council of South Africa.

 

This hotel is unique structurally and in their business processes. They have actively been involved in “hearty” projects where they have shone the light on the social elements of sustainable development.

Hotel Verde was the first hotel in Africa to offer 100% offset carbon-neutral accommodation and conferencing. The foresight of the developer is clear as the hotel is built around a reed bed which boasts a magical, natural filtration feature, which is unique for a relatively industrial area.

 

What we want to reveal with this case is that there are a broad range of issues from a sustainable perspective and each of them important. We wish to motivate businesses and our property partners to prioritise the areas to focus on and develop. Each small step forward will create impact.

 

Here’s a brief overview of our sustainable features at the hotel and we are going to categorise them into Capital intensive features, Capital features, and less capital intensive.

 

Energy Efficiency

  • LED low-watt lighting
  • Sophisticated heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system to reduce energy consumption
  • Renewable energy generation
  • The boreholes in the hotel are used to pump water down below the earth’s surface in order to cool it and make for effective air-conditioning in the rooms.

 

Sustainable Design

 

  • During design and construction, the project has followed the criteria of the Green Building Council of South Africa and is pursuing 5-star certification
  • Regenerative drive elevators
  • Responsibly sourced, recycled and eco-friendly furniture and products used where feasible

 

Water Efficiency

 

  • Grey water recycling systems installed using a natural filtration system
  • Natural swimming pool using aquatic plants to keep it clear
  • Recycling greywater from showers for use in toilet cisterns

 

Waste

 

All waste sorted on site and, where possible, recycled

 

Green Conferencing

 

  • Venues have separate bins for items that can be recycled
  • Eco-friendly stationery, recycled paper, carbon-neutral printer
  • Energy-efficient air-conditioning, lighting and technology
  • Double glazing on all windows

 

Sustainable Operations

 

  • Sustainable procurement – conscious purchasing decisions
  • Recycling and waste management
  • Vegetable Garden
  • Hydroponic Garden for herbs used by the kitchen
  • Bee farms
  • Outdoor gym
  • Art project – all art in the hotel is from students Grade 11/12 who were paid for their art as well as having their tertiary education paid for! Incredible.
  • There is a wall inside the hotel which is a vertical garden and this assists with producing oxygen for the interior of the hotel
  • The carbon dioxide air filters installed in the garage/basement of the hotel are there to reduce the carbon dioxide in the basement

Walking through the hotel I noticed other small initiatives that are truly reflective of a property who “walks the talk”.  They had a suitcase at the area of check out which had a note stating that if you wanted to leave items behind you could instead of carrying extra weight in your luggage.

 

The AVANTI Program- this is a program that Hotel Verde run internally on a monthly basis where they meet with staff members and they come up with initiatives/activities  that they can put in place to be more Green and sustainable and through that initiative they have seen staff creating sustainable methods and Implementing them such as switching off our lights and non-essential device as we leave our offices and using digital signatures as much as possible to decrease our paper usage and if they have to print they only use black and white and the econo mode.

 

The hotel also encourage their staff to utilize stairs as much as possible, and lifts are only to be used when carrying large loads such as Housekeeping Skips, and Guest room service trolleys or other operational equipment however Housekeeping is an exception to the rule.  This creates a sense of wellness and truly living the sustainable brand.

 

They also reward the guests through an in-house currency (Verdinos), where guests are rewarded for being involved in the hotels sustainable journey by making green choices, such as:

 

  • Using the stairs instead of the lift
  • Correctly sorting waste in rooms
  • Reusing towels
  • Not using additional pillows
  • Using the power-generating equipment in the gym
  • Taking a walk or jogging around the wetland

 

Ways to spend Verdinos:

  • Off-set your accommodation cost
  • Reduce your bill at the Nuovo Restaurant

 

We realise that sustainable development in this sector of Temporary Accommodation has both a long way to go and a lot of both investment to convert to becoming fully sustainable.  Our role is to share these sorts of cases on how some properties have managed to take the giant leaps of sustainable development to ensure they thrive as a business and to ensure their communities thrive too.

 

We would love to hear from other properties on what you are doing so we can write and share your journey and help encourage others to become more and more sustainable.