Luxury meets sustainability at The Vineyard, Cape Town

The Vineyard displays its new solar panels

The Vineyard displays its new solar panels

A luxury Cape Town hotel and spa has been raking in the eco awards – here’s how they did it.

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:

  • Green Leaf Environmental Standard Certification, Silver Status 2011
  • Winner: IMVELO 'Best single resource management programme - waste management' 2012
  • Winner: South African National Parks (SANParks) Kudu Award in the Corporate Contribution category in recognition of its work in clearing alien vegetation on Silvermine Naturel Reserve on Table Mountain 2013
  • Finalist: Eco-Logic Awards by Enviropaedia in partnership with SABC 3 for conservation project to promote indigenous flora rehabilitation by removing alien vegetation from the Silvermine section of the Table Mountain National Park 2013

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 Vineyard Hotel & Spa, Cape Town

The Vineyard Hotel & Spa, Cape Town

 

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.

  • Energy & Carbon (examples)
    • CFE and LED lights installed throughout the conference centre and hotel rooms, leading to a 75% energy saving
    • Installation of energy efficient laundry machines, leading to a 34% energy saving compared to old laundry
    • Installation of eighty 250Wsolar panels, estimated to generate 40,000 kW/hours, resulting in a reduction of annual carbon emissions by over 41 Tons
    • Green Energy certificates (wind) purchased from the City of Cape Town for the conference centre
    • Energy cards for rooms (that switch off air conditioners and other electrical appliances upon exiting)
    • Hot water generated by means of heat pump, 70% more efficient compared to elements
  • Water
    • Water filters used; water served in re-usable glass bottles throughout restaurants and conference centre
    • Drip irrigation used in the gardens where feasible
    • Dual flush toilets in all renovated rooms and public areas
    • Taps in rooms and restrooms aerated
    • New water efficient laundry installed
    • Water efficient shower heads throughout hotel rooms, reducing water consumption by approximately 4 litres per minute
  • Waste
    • On average, 94% of waste generated is recycled
    • On-site recycling facility available for staff and the surrounding community
    • Recycling of cooking oil for manufacturing of bio-diesel
    • Wine corks collected and used to make flooring for underprivileged communities
  • Procurement
  • Education & training
    • All new staff introduced to sustainability policies during induction
    • All staff are given sustainability training
    • The Hotel provides learning opportunities to people in the poorer communities, training and development of staff for future leadership positions
  • Community
    • Supports a range of children’s charities in underprivileged communities
    • Events
    • Monthly alien clearing project at the Silvermine section of the Table Mountain National Park

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.

Katarina Mancama

 

 

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