South Africa’s Greenest Hotel Lives Up to Its Name

WIND turbines, geothermal heat pumps and electricity-generating gym equipment are just some of the things that make Hotel Verde green.

The three-star hotel is located a few hundred metres from Cape Town International Airport in South Africa and was officially opened yesterday. It boasts 150 rooms, restaurant and conference facilities. It has a grey-water recycling plant and lifts which generate electricity. The hotel was also built with concrete slabs containing recycled materials. Instead of a traditional air-conditioning system which uses a lot of energy, the hotel uses geothermal heat pumps attached to 100 boreholes which are drilled up to 70m deep.

German company AGO Energy installed a network of pumps and pipes which use the Earth as a heat source in winter and “heat sink” in summer, boosting efficiency and reducing operational costs. The only municipal water used is for showers, baths and basins, while recycled water is used for everything else. The electricity-generating gym experiment and wind turbines were a first for a hotel in South Africa hotel director Mario Delicio said.

“At the end of the day, we are also parents and we have a certain responsibility towards future generations, and this is what inspired us to do something about it,” Delicio said.

The hotel cost about R20 million more than would a conventional hotel of its size, but the owners are confident they will recoup their expenses between 10 and 15 years.

Alan Winde, Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC, who opened the hotel yesterday, said he hopedgreen buildings would become the norm for the hospitality industry.

Hotel Verde will make use of the following water- and energy-efficient equipment:

  • indel B (K40 Plus) guestroom mini bar fridges – with energy savings of approximately 27 000 kWh per annum
  • Energy efficient, LED lighting is used throughout the building
  • Miele washing machines – the virtually uncontaminated water from the final rinse cycle is captured and re-used for the pre-wash of the next load
  • Energy Star rated office equipment, e.g. screens, computers, printers, copiers, etc.

Energy Star dishwashers

  • Each guestroom has a main power cut-off switch. When the room key card is removed from its designated slot, power to that room is cut. (with the exception of plugs for charging and the bar fridge)
  • Water-saving taps, shower heads and toilets
  • Drip irrigation system
  • Carbon monoxide sensors switching on the basement ventilation system only when required

The properties adjacent to Hotel Verde will be landscaped and beautified. A jogging trail will be created and joggers can make use of this facility whilst enjoying the natural surroundings and bird life.

The flat concrete roof over the reception and lobby area is covered by a vegetated green roof. Additionally to being aesthetically pleasing the endemic/ indigenous vegetation creates a habitat for bird life and thermally insulates the areas below.

Green rooftop picture

Green Aspects Hotel Verde picture

154 locally produced Tenesol 240Wp photovoltaic modules are installed on the north-facing roof section and 66 on the northern façade. The resulting photovoltaic array has a resulting capacity of 52.8kW and an anticipated production of approximately 78 000 kWh/yr. This is the average value throughout the year, however in a typical summer month the array yields approximately 20% more power than in a typical winter month. The panels on the façade are angled at the optimal angle to provide maximum yield as well as providing shade for the windows below.

3  Huebner-Giessen 3kW vertical axis wind turbines, contributing to on-site generated renewable energy, will be installed on masts in the parking area in front of the main entrance. The tip of the wind turbine will be at 17m – adhering to the height restriction plane of that area – where the wind speed is optimal, to maximize output.

WindTurbines Hotel Verde image

Geothermal installation complete

The 100 holes and over 11.3km of vertical and 1.1 km of horizontal pipes (connecting the vertical loops together – called headers) are no all firmly out of sight and protected under the basement’s surface bed. The only evidence is the not just significant drilling and installation bill but also the 14 sub-header pipes penetrating through the basement floor slab.

Extensive pressure testing to ensure the pipe network is leak free

Horizontal pipes carefully covered with protective foam and sand before being entombed by soilcrete to protect from building activities before this exciting installation ’cast in stone’ by the back-fill and surface bed concrete

Awaiting to be connected to the ultra efficient German imported heat pump based equipment
Which is the heart of Hotel Verde’s heating, ventilation and airconditioning system

Grey Water Recycling

Drain water from showers and bathtubs is filtered and then collected in the Pontos grey-water recycling system, where any detergents and contaminants are biologically broken down. Thereafter solids are allowed to settle before being removed. Processed water is then passed over a UV filter for sterilisation. Finally it is ready to be distributed to the toilet cisterns and possibly used for irrigation. The Pontos system in use at Hotel Verde has the capacity to process approximately 9 000 litres of grey water per day. The system is responsible for reducing the consumption of municipal water by approximately 1.5 million litres per annum.

Double glazed windows

Windows used in the construction of the hotel will have double glazing which serves the purpose of the acoustic and thermal insulation.  Special coatings also improve the insulation values as well as the solar heat gain co-efficient, resulting in less heat radiation. The glazing selected has a slight green tint; the specific colour is spectrally selective and further filters out heat radiation whilst minimizing the impact on visible light.

Occupancy sensors

Occupancy sensors monitor certain areas, like passages, offices, storerooms, toilets, etc. and switch off lights if no-one is present. Thus reducing energy wastage.

Electric Shuttles

Hotel Verde will make use of a fleet of various electric vehicles to transport visitors from the airport to the hotel premises (and vice versa). The vehicles are 100% electric and will be propelled by brushless AC motors.



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