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22 Apr 2015 13:19
The Hotel Verde near Cape Town International Airport.
Verde Hotels, the group that brought Africa its
first truly “green” hotel, Hotel Verde, in the industrial precinct of
Cape Town International airport, has launched a new management and expansion
Unveiled at last week’s World Travel Market
Africa in Cape Town, the programme will see the Hotel Verde model branch out into
Africa and take on retrofits as well as new builds.
An official project of Cape Town World Design
Capital 2014, Hotel Verde is one of the most innovative on the continent in
terms of its green practices and has transformed the patch of land on which it
While many hotels worldwide pay mere lip service
to environmentally conscious trends, genuinely “going green” is an
ambitious, often costly undertaking.
From construction methods and materials to
operational technology and processes, to suppliers and products, the award-winning
145-room hotel, located 400m from Cape Town International Airport’s terminal
buildings, lives up to its ambitious slogan as “Africa’s greenest”.
“The new management programme is aimed at
training staff to get the very best, optimum performance out of a green hotel
and is based on the learning curve experienced at Hotel Verde, where everything
that could be done to keep the hotel carbon neutral has been considered,”
says the hotel’s GM Samantha Annandale.
A green vegetative roof regulates the
temperature of the reception area.
“Bath water is sterilised and filtered by a
state of the art grey water plant and used to flush toilets, while a 40 000
litre tank collects rainwater and subsoil drainage water for irrigation,”
“Three wind turbines and photovoltaic
panels are used to generate electricity and elevators are fitted with special
regenerative drives that harness 30% of input energy, which is then fed back
into the grid.”
Cobiax void formers, plastic spheres made from
100% recycled polyethylene, were used wherever possible in the building design,
saving almost 1 300 tonnes of concrete. Another intriguing innovation is Hotel
Verde’s ground source geothermal field, an intricate system involving 100 boreholes
drilled underneath the hotel basement floor, into which high-density
polyethylene pipes are inserted and through which water is circulated. The
pipes are connected to a number of ground-source heat pumps, acting as a heat
sink in summer and a source of heat in winter.
The hotel also encourages all its local
suppliers to support initiatives by minimising unnecessary packaging. Recycling
takes place wherever possible, with zero waste to landfill being the goal.
Wherever you go as a guest at the hotel, you are
subtly encouraged to “do your bit”.
“The hotel encourages visitors towards more
eco-friendly habits through a novel incentives system,” explains
Annandale. “Recycle waste, reuse towels, refrain from using aircon, or use
power-generating gym equipment and you’ll be awarded ‘Verdino’ coins – to be
redeemed at the 24 hour deli or hotel bar.”
Not only do double-glazed windows keep rooms
soundproof (there is not a hint of aircraft noise throughout the hotel), but
spectrally selective glass also filters out the sun’s hot rays, significantly
reducing the hotel’s reliance on conventional air conditioning. Toiletries and
detergents are 100% bio-friendly.
The hotel kitchen, which produces high quality
meals starting with a red-eye commuter’s dream - a breakfast buffet served from
4.30am onwards - grows its own herbs and vegetables, buying in all other
supplies from as close to source as possible. A lush “living wall”
cum vertical garden separates the hotel lounge from the bar and dining area,
purifying the air and creating a sense of serenity.
Corridors on all four hotel floors are decorated
with art inspired by themes from nature and created by local school children,
crafters and artists. Outside, beyond the dining patio, a reclaimed wetland and
endemic fynbos garden sits alongside a natural, eco-friendly swimming pool.
In recognition of its accomplishments, Hotel
Verde was awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed)
platinum certificate for new construction. Leed is the United States Green Building
Council’s programme and uses a stringent set of tools and guidelines to assess
green buildings, recognising best-in-class practices. Platinum is the highest
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