Sustainability Showcase: Sun City

A WORLD WITHIN A CITY

In partnership with fanute hospitality solutions we bring you the seventh in a series of articles that highlight sustainable practices in the hospitality sector around the globe.

Gauteng families have been escaping to this North West resort since it first opened in 1979, and it caters for all tastes and ages with its variety of accommodation, F&B and leisure options. The resort is massive – in fact, it’s probably better to describe it as a self-sustaining small town, as it operates and manages its own water, waste and energy systems. The resort is quite isolated, and in a rural space, which not only means that the resort needs to be self-reliant, but that there’s an onus on the property to be responsible with the resources it uses.

The resort also has a large amount of people on-site every day, which puts additional strain on resources and waste management. The resort employs about 6 500 staff (900 of whom live permanently on site with their families) and can sleep just over 6 000 guests in its four hotels, chalets and Sun Vacation Club. And that’s not to mention the visitors who visit the resort for the day.

Thankfully, Sun City was an early convert to sustainability, adopting a sustainability programme in 2004. In 2009, an environmental department was established with four full time positions, and today the department has grown into a five-person team, with documented system procedures and regular audits ensuring that, across the board, standards are stuck to.

Sun City’s journey to become a sustainable destination was “an enormous challenge, when looking at the dynamics of the resort’s infrastructure, facilities and activities,” says Danie Boshoff, the Safety, Health and Environmental Manager for the resort, in the introduction to Sun City’s Sustainability Booklet. The resort formed Sun City SHE Committees – 13 committees, one from each department – to assist the sustainability department with implementation, and today Sun City is an ISO 14001: 2015 certified company.

The property has won numerous awards for its sustainability initiatives, and is often visited by government departments for educational visits and to learn from the initiatives that have been implemented.

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Water Management

The Sun City resort has a number of facets to its water management plan. The on-site waste water treatment purifies 2 mega litres of water a day, which is then used for irrigation together with rain water that’s harvested through the storm water drain system.  A sustainable irrigation procedure eliminates irrigation during the heat of the day, and rain sensors are used on newer systems to prevent irrigation cycles from running if the soil has sufficient moisture content.  There is also zero tolerance for leaks – teams act swiftly when leaks occur to prevent losses.

Waste Management

Running for the last 10 years, Sun City’s waste management system runs like clockwork. The resort has had many compliments on the condition of its recycling facility and landfill site and spent R3 million to upgrade the recycling facility and add new technologies, such as a food digestor. While it currently recycles in excess of 65% of all waste, there’s a goal to have zero waste to landfill in the year 2020. The management system sees waste separated at source and then, once taken to the recycling facility on site, sorted further and then balled.

Energy Management

One of the resort’s biggest concerns as its facilities are so reliant on electricity, Sun City has made great energy savings over the last few years. They’ve also invested a considerable amount into energy saving projects and all electrical usage can be easily audited, analysed and controlled through a monitoring system. Areas that used a large amount of energy were identified, and were placed on a load shedding schedule to reduce overall energy usage. These key areas included heat and water pumps, air conditioning and heated swimming pools. Solar panels have been placed in the staff village, equating to around 22% of the total energy use in the village. 15 000 energy-sapping lightbulbs around the resort were replaced with energy efficient versions, and gas is used where possible to reduce electricity usage.

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Sustainability Programme Features

Here are some of the features of Sun City’s sustainability programme, showing that sustainability is about the small things as well as the big:

  • Effective waste management facilities on-site and recycling with a goal of zero waste to landfill in the year 2020. Currently, Sun City is recycling in excess of 65% of all waste
  • Responsible disposal of hazardous waste streams
  • Oil separators at all wash bays to remove oils prior to discharge into sewage drains
  • Full time fat trap cleaning team to maintain 32 fat traps across the resort and dispose of the waste in a responsible manner
  • Alien invasive eradication programmes to remove plants that have no value and use resources that indigenous plants require
  • Allow golf course grass to go into natural dormancy period instead of forcing it to remain green with excessive irrigation and applying fertilizers – 64 million litres of water saved in 2018 and no impact on the golf course condition
  • Department of Agriculture, Forest, Fisheries permit in place to manage impacts on protected trees
  • Extensive animal and plant management systems in place with an Animal Care Facility on site for injured animals
  • In-room electricity management systems in Soho and Sun Vacation Club to switch off all electricity when not in the rooms
  • The resort has installed solar geysers at Sun Vacation Club and South Village. Furthermore, there was a massive installation of LED lights and heat pumps to reduce the amount of electricity used to heat water.
  • “No leak” campaign to raise awareness about water conservation
  • More than 1300 people have received Environmental training
  • Energy saving is also a priority. Sun City has completed two side management projects. One involved load shifting out of peak periods and shedding and the other involved the installation of a heat pump for water heating
  • All incandescent lamps replaced with LED or CFL energy efficient lights
  • Use of biodegradable soaps and chemicals across the resort
  • Full scale composting facility to produce organic compost from garden waste
  • Herb and vegetable garden for kitchens to utilise
  • Office recycling programme introduced in 2016
  • Kitchen recycling project introduced last year following installation of food digester at the site recycling facility

How are you embracing sustainability in your establishment?
We’d love to hear your stories! Send an email to sarah@augmentcreative.com and tell us more.

More about fanute

fanute is a specialist hospitality solutions company. We believe that by being innovative in our thinking and adventurous in our actions, we can provide valuable services to the market, and in just a small way, help to save our ailing planet.

We are not afraid of being first or in being the only player in a space – because we love starting with a blank piece of paper and designing our own future.

We’re obsessed with sustainability, simply, because we are all stewards of our environment – and for us this includes our beautiful land, our people and culture and our very scarce natural resources.

We help because our linen rental business drives scale in the short-term lettings industry, which means no more washing linen with domestic machines or walk-in laundromats, which consume huge amounts of water and energy.

And our near-waterless industrial laundry systems deliver meaningful savings of those same scarce resources, offering the only real innovation in laundry in over 60 years.

For more information, visit the fanute website.

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