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“We started with this journey towards the end of 2013,” says Nick Dickson, Dream Hotels & Resorts (DHR) Director. “Recognising that our resorts are located in eco-sensitive areas, a strategic decision was made back then to ensure we keep our impact on the environment to a minimum.”
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released this week, revealed the serious effects of allowing global warming to reach 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, as opposed to curbing it at 1.5ºC – which is the level South Africa has committed to.
South Africa’s official pledge is also to reduce emissions to between 398 and 614 millions tons (Mt) of CO2 equivalents between 2025 and 2030, dropping to between 212Mt and 420Mt by 2050.
“With sustainable travel at an all-time high, it’s imperative that industry players not only follow suite, but rather drive this initiative,” he added.
DHR appointed environmental expert consultants, Energy Resource Optimisers (ERO), to develop its Sustainable Environmental Management Programme (SEMP). ERO has extensive experience in the hospitality industry.
The SEMP it has developed is aligned to the ISO 50001 best-practice standard, Dickson explained. “In practical terms, the SEMP is based on a ‘PLAN – DO – CHECK – ACT’ model. Dickson said this was similar to many other business processes, making it “easy to understand and implement at unit level”.
Fellow DHR Director, Brent Dickson, added that the SEMP developed by ERO appealed to the hotels and resorts group because improvements would be made to its overall property management strategy.
Anton Potgieter, Managing Member of ERO, maintained it was typical that, in organisations where a SEMP programme is healthy and running effectively, other areas of the business would also be managed well.
“DHR’s SEMP programme has two pillars: a facility programme and an organisational programme. The facility programme deals with everything physical such as water heaters, lighting, laundry equipment, etc. with the aim to move to the most efficient equipment over time. The organisational programme, meanwhile, addresses the group’s policies, procedures and operations.”
“We have not adopted an ‘efficiency at all cost approach’. We sought to introduce efficiency as and when the opportunity arises,” he added.
The DHR directors explained that excellent results have been achieved, as well as behavioural changes, since the inception of the programme. “It was initially implemented at six of the 22 properties, and then extended to the rest once the results were in.”
The SEMP has also delivered cost savings for the group.
“In the first two years, savings exceeded 10 percent,” they revealed. “All the resorts have energy baselines and are monitoring their consumption against occupancy on a monthly basis. Since most facilities utilise boreholes for water, we have installed water meters to get an understanding of the water consumption and costs.” The group has set a target of 200 litres per bed night sold by 2020.
Regarding waste management, DHR is currently assessing the volume and type of waste it produces, aiming to reduce water to landfill by 30 percent by 2020. Six monthly assessments are carried out at each location to an innovative scorecard to monitor progress.
“There was a need to provide recognition for the properties’ efforts, and since the SEMP programme provides a score for the progress in each of the three priority areas – energy, water and waste – it was decided to give these scores a ‘face’, which is what we refer to as the ECO Statuses, which was developed and driven by the DHR team.”
The DHR directors added: “DHR facilities are currently between ECO Proud and ECO Excellent.”
ERO has since confirmed that it is in discussions with two other hospitality clients, the City Lodge Hotel Group and ATKV Resorts, which utilise the same SEMP, to implement the ECO rating system at their properties. ERO said both had agreed in principle to adopting DHR’s ECO Status system.