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The Vineyard Hotel & Spa in South Africa has made a commitment to "Living Green" and to ensuring that sustainable development principles are incorporated throughout the hotel’s operations and in its interaction with stakeholders and communities.
The Vineyard Hotel & Spa is a luxury 207 room hotel located in a leafy Cape Town suburb. The eight hectare indigenous riverside parkland property is situated on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, and is focussed around a 200-year-old original Georgian homestead. The hotel features two on-site restaurants, a state of the art conference centre, a spa, fitness centre and two swimming pools.
The environmental initiatives at The Vineyard encompass a range of projects; from recycling up to 94% of the waste, installing energy efficient equipment, reducing water consumption by installing efficient shower heads, green procurement of recycled and biodegradable materials; to involvement in community greening initiatives, like an alien clearing adopt-a-plot project in the Table Mountain National Park and others like tree planting at less privileged schools.
On the socio-economic side, The Vineyard supports a range of charities aimed at giving children in the Cape Town townships a better opportunity in life, provide young students with an opportunity for workplace experience through internships and training programmes, and also run a range of in-house initiatives such as a staff health and wellbeing programme.
The Vineyard has been awarded the following sustainability-related awards:
The Vineyard launched their sustainability programme in 2004. The main driving force behind it was the total commitment to nature and conservation by the owners; the Petousis family. The key objective of the programme is to be truly sustainable in all aspects of operations and interaction with stakeholders and communities, and to enhance the brand and guest experience by “Living Green”.
The commitment to sustainability at The Vineyard is deep and genuine. Although some of the projects may eventually lead to cost savings, the Sustainability Department is currently a cost centre. Massive investments have been made into infrastructure; such as the installation of a new laundry system, the building of one of the greenest conference centres in South Africa and, most recently, the installation of eighty 250W solar panels to generate green energy on-site. The effect on consumption has been immediate but it will take many years until the capital investment is offset.
The key driver of The Vineyard’s sustainability programme is Sustainability Manager Chris van Zyl. However, the commitment has been effectively communicated to the whole team and each department works towards the greater goals within the areas that they can influence. The most important impact of the sustainability project, according to van Zyl is an increased awareness and change in behaviour among the staff. Many now recycle at home and are mindful of the impact that they can have on the environment.
Van Zyl continues that the hotel saw the biggest impact on sustainability through the installation of a new laundry system which resulted in a 34% energy saving compared to the old system. The biggest return on investment to date however, was the much smaller project which saw CFE and LED lights installed throughout the conference centre and hotel rooms, which resulted in a 75% energy saving.
Below are some examples of The Vineyard’s sustainability initiatives. For a comprehensive list, please refer to The Vineyard's Sustainability Initiatives document.
Going forward, The Vineyard wants to find an affordable and practical way of measuring their carbon footprint on an on-going basis. Although the hotel has undergone a carbon audit once, this is not a viable option for on-going monitoring of its carbon footprint due to both the complexity and cost of the process.
Chris van Zyl recommends that hotels that want to become more sustainable should start with the “low hanging fruits”: projects that are relatively low cost and easy to implement, such as changing traditional light bulbs to CFE and LED. He comments that the biggest challenge in implementing a sustainability policy is the human factor – every member of staff as well as guests must be educated and motivated to implement the policy. If they do not buy in to the initiatives, or don’t understand why they are important, it will be impossible to achieve profound change.