Under the scorching sun of a drought-stricken Cape Town, there sits Africa’s greenest hotel, Hotel Verde. Brightened by natural lighting and driven by the most advanced green technologies, the hotel strives to minimize its carbon footprint, including its water consumption.

The South African capital has been experiencing such a severe drought that it drafted the City of Cape Town’s Critical Water Shortages Disaster Plan. The plan, which is comprised of three stages, outlines action items in the event of critical water shortages. The report assumes no additional water into the City’s system before the next rainy season.

“With the winter rainfall season mostly behind us, it is clear that we are in a much
worse position than we were at the same time last year,” writes the City. “We are now in Phase 1 of the disaster plan which entails water rationing.” The other two phases comprise disaster phases and even more extreme disaster interventions.

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“With the worsening conditions, Hotel Verde recognized the need to increase efforts in awareness and conservation of water,” Taryn Hickson, Hotel Verde’s marketing manager, told The Next Web. “This actioned additional operational implementations, as well as the reinforcement of existing procedures to ensure best practices.”

Hotel reservations, for example, will only allocate a room with a bath if no other rooms are available, while in conferences, guests must request their water bottles to be refilled, thus avoiding any potential wastage.

“We have maintained our high standards even with these changes, proving that they can become the new normal going forward, increasing our water conservation efforts even further,” says Hickson.

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Founded by Mario and Annemarie Delicio, Hotel Verde sports large solar arrays that provide not only shade, but also power to the establishment. The hotel has become known for changing the status quo. Every aspect of the hotel’s building and operations has taken sustainability into account. For instance, the hotel itself was built with concrete slabs from recycled materials.

Initially, the hotel saved money on its design and construction. The hotel’s utility bills are just 35% that of a standard hotel, according to a 2008 study. “That directly equates to a very big monetary saving with regards to water, electricity and even maintenance,” says Hickson.

Hotel Verde doesn’t use traditional air-conditioning. Instead, it employs geothermal heat pumps and 100 boreholes drilled 65 metres into the ground. Temperatures there are consistently 19 degrees Celsius. This network of pumps and piping, which was created specifically for the hotel, employs the earth as a source of heat in the winter, and a ‘heat sink’ in the summer. This boosts both efficiency of the hotel, while reducing operational costs. The hotel gym is Africa’s first in which guests can use health walkers and bicycles that generate power back into the hotel’s system.

Hotel Verde also innovates in the way it interacts with guests, who are offered rewards for sustainable practices during their stay. In the eyes of the hotel, guest stays are an opportunity to educate on sustainability.

For instance, guests can earn hotel currency, Verdinos, for living a green lifestyle during their stay.

“A Verdino is equivalent to 5 Rand, and can be redeemed anywhere on the hotel property, including against the guest’s accommodation,” explains Hickson. “Guests earn Verdinos for sorting their waste into split bins, opting to reuse bath towels, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and using the power-generating gym equipment amongst other things.”

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In order to ensure its reaching its goals, the hotel audits its carbon footprint annually. “This allows us to issue carbon offsetting certificates to our guests for both accommodation and conferencing,” says Hickson.

Hotel Verde uses impactChoice, a leading provider of Energy efficiency, fuel efficiency, emissions mitigation and environmental sustainability consulting solutions. The Mauritius-based company’s offsetting certificates serve as a unique and convenient avenue for purchasing and distributing these carbon credits to its guests.

“Our carbon mitigation solution involves guests and conference delegates in sustainability activities,” says Leonard Harley, Group Managing Director of impactChoice. “Hotel Verde is using our technology in novel ways to incentivize guests to do the same with them.”

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impactChoice plans to soon launch a new blockchain-based platform, the Natural Asset Exchange and Earth Token Cryptocurrency.

“This will enable Hotel Verde to not only remain a climate neutral operation, but continue to raise the bar in terms of sustainability efforts,” says Harley. “impactChoice certificates as used by Hotel Verde are all about awareness of carbon offsetting, and carbon offsetting itself, and we can see at the Hotel how they’re getting the job done.”