Nibela Lake Lodge at the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park is just one of the properties of Dream Hotels & Resorts that has implemented ECO grading systems. Picture: Supplied.

Dream Hotels & Resorts Group is celebrating an ECO Proud/ECO Excellent status achievement, following the successful implementation of an effective ECO grading system across its portfolio of 22-holiday properties in South Africa and Mozambique.

Nick Dickson, Director at Dream Hotels & Resorts (DHR), said they have started with the journey in 2013. 

"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," he said. 

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 million 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 programme 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 and 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. 

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.

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.