The solar power and sustainable energy movement is gaining momentum in South Africa. A posh hotel in one of Johannesburg’s most upmarket suburbs has just installed a solar water heating system, and other energy saving mechanisms.
Projects replacing the burning of fossil fuels and conventional electricity with methods harnessing renewable resources, such as solar water heating and wind power, have already been operating in some parts of South Africa for many years. However, these have been largely concentrated in rural areas or farms and many city-based businesses and buildings are not yet on board.
Now, following the call from the City’s government, the DaVinci Hotel and Suites has installed solar water heating panels, which will save a significant amount of energy in the establishment’s operations and substantially reduce its carbon footprint.
Located on Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, the hotel is set to open on Saturday 1 May 2010. Its solar water heating system consists of 117 flat solar panel collectors – enough to supply hot water for 138 rooms. It has the capacity to provide 30 000 litres of preheated water, enough to decrease the hotel’s electricity usage by a massive 60 percent and drastically decrease carbon emissions.
The Legacy Hotel Group, which owns the DaVinci, partnered with Kayema Energy Solutions for the solar water heating project. Because of the complexity and scale of a commercial project such as the hotel, a team consisting of international solar power specialists, design engineers and architects, was needed to work together on its implementation.
Aside from the solar water heating system other energy saving measures that went into the building include an electrical management system which cuts off all electricity to a room when it is unoccupied, water saving shower heads, and LED lights in communal inside and outside areas. Other areas, such as the basement, are fitted with timers that are scheduled to switch lights off when they are not needed.
The DaVinci’s restaurant, the Maximillien, was also designed in keeping with the sustainable approach, with bamboo floors and environmentally friendly kitchen cleaning products and material.
The Sandton hotel is certainly a groundbreaker in commercial sustainable energy building. The time is ripe for other projects in the city to follow suit and integrate solar water heating and other energy saving options into their operations.