How to build an energy efficient and sustainable guest house in Cape Town?
It is never easy to stray from the beaten track and explore new territory. This is how we felt after we decided to support sustainable tourism in Cape Town through Vyn Guest House. We are now sustainable and independent in terms of our entire energy and water supply – and it functions well. We have also used local products as much as possible in the house and the furnishings. Naturally, the same goes for the delicious ingredients in our breakfast and, last but not least, for the wine. The combination of beautiful design, enjoyment and comfort on the one hand, and responsible action on the other complement one another wonderfully. For us, acting responsibly also extends to our interactions with our staff and as members of our local community.
Thanks to the use of solar energy, we are energy-efficient and independent
By design, the Vyn Guesthouse is built according to energy-saving standards. Our powerful solar system also makes us independent of the public electricity supply, which in South Africa comes mainly from coal-fired power plants. As a result, we are making a considerable contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. A pleasant side effect is that we are not affected by temporary power failures, so-called load shedding. Here, too, convenience and responsible action complement each other ideally.
Our water supply is also efficient and independent, without compromising the comfort of our guests
Similar to other regions in South Africa, Cape Town has been affected by drought in the past. Yet sufficient rain falls during the winter months, which only needs to be stored and used efficiently. We have taken advantage of this basic principle and built a large water reservoir that always supplies us with sufficient fresh water. In addition, the grey water from the showers and wash basins is treated and used for irrigation of the garden, for instance. For filtering and treating the water, we rely on the sophisticated technology of Intewa from Aachen (intewa.de). The innovative system makes us independent of the public water supply – thus protecting it – and the treatment reduces our water consumption by more than a third while providing full comfort for our guests.
It is important to us to give something back to our community – we support various local initiatives and projects
We consider ourselves a true part of the Hout Bay community – as a fair employer, as a customer of local businesses and as a cooperation partner of other small businesses in the tourism sector. In addition, we want to help and open up opportunities where it is most needed, especially for young people. For instance, we support Ubuntu Charity e.V., which organises homework assistance, runs a small library and provides individual support for children with special needs. "Platz im Koffer" is a further project that enables donations of goods to be made to vulnerable families. We support individual families and especially their children on a case-by-case basis. We are convinced that our tangible and direct support in our immediate environment makes the greatest contribution to sustainably improving people's living conditions.
Using local products reduces our carbon footprint
Right from the start of the construction of the house, we made sure to use local products as much as possible. The search for locally produced furniture and accessories that meet our requirements in terms of quality and design was challenging, but also a lot of fun. The same goes for the rich and diverse breakfasts, which are fresh and locally sourced, from suppliers we know and work with regularly. One of them is Love in a Bowl (loveinabowl.co.za), an organisation that grows organic vegetables in Hout Bay and uses the proceeds to provide healthy food to families in need. Our approach aims to make our contribution to local value creation, which provides employment and thus creates a sustainable livelihood for people. Of course, at the same time, we reduce climate-damaging transport and offer our guests the finest food.