29 August 2013
South African hospitality group Bon Hotels has opened what it says is the continent’s greenest hotel.
The R170-million, 145-room Hotel Verde, situated 400 metres from Cape Town International Airport, was officially opened on Tuesday, with Bon Hotels saying it aimed to raise environmental awareness and help preserve the natural wetlands in the area around the airport.
“The team at Hotel Verde have gone to the greatest extent yet seen on the continent – from locally sourced suppliers to sustainable practices on the building site to multiple ways in which they can generate their own electricity and reduce waste to almost zero,” Bon Hotels said in a statement.
Hotel Verde was constructed with concrete slabs comprising recycled materials called cobiax void formers – polypropylene hollow spheres that saved over 1 000 tonnes of concrete.
Geothermal pumps have been installed through 100 boreholes 65 metres underground, where a constant ground temperature of 19 degrees Celsius will be used to maintain ventilation and air-conditioning in the hotel.
Hotel Verde’s bar will make use of the geothermal pumps to maintain the temperature in the wine cellar. It also includes a “living wall”, made up entirely of plants.
‘Boosting efficiency, sustainability’
Photovoltaic panels, three wind turbines and a grey water recycling plant are other measures that have been introduced to boost efficiency and reduce operational costs.
Water from guest showers will be treated in the recycling system and then be used in all toilets in the building; the system is expected to reduce the hotel’s water consumption by about 37%.
Public areas such as lifts, toilets and passages have been equipped with movement- sensor-controlled lighting.
The hotel gym has also been made part of the greening solution. “Hotel Verde will be the first in South Africa to use power-generating equipment – these machines pump power back into the hotel as you work out and shows the amount of energy you are generating,” Bon Hotels said.
Guests are also able to use the outdoor gym equipment or run along the 320 metre jogging trail set amid a fynbos garden and along the surrounding wetlands.
“We had the opportunity to change the status quo here,” said Hotel Verde’s sustainability consultant, Andre Harms. “We looked at different ways of doing everything, right from the word go.”
Hotel Verde has applied for green certification through the internationally recognised, United States green building certification system Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and is hoping to achieve this rating shortly, following its opening.
Data will be collected for a further year before the hotel will apply for LEED Gold for existing buildings.