4 Jun 2021
One of Gondwana Collection Namibia's newer lodges, The Desert Grace, has reached the final round of the 2021 Sustainable Development Awards in the category ‘Private Sector Champions for Sustainable Development '. The winner of this category is Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp by Wilderness Safaris. The award recognises sustainable approaches to management of energy, water and waste, and participation in environmental certification programmes.
The winners in the nine different categories were announced by the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) and the Sustainable Development Advisory Council at the awards ceremony in Windhoek on Friday, 21 May 2021.
The Desert Grace is located close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Namib Sand Sea' 60 km north of Sesriem, the gateway to the Sossusvlei area that features the highest dunes on earth. Stephanie de Lange of Gondwana Collection Namibia entered the lodge for the environmental award: “Right from the early planning stages of this beautiful lodge, the focus was on sustainability, an environmentally friendly construction method and architecture in harmony with nature. From the start, concepts for the sustainable management of the lodge were implemented. We are honoured that our efforts have now been rewarded.”
The Desert Grace was built using sandbags instead of bricks, which reduced transportation emissions by a ratio of 21:7. To transport the building materials, fewer vehicles were used. The bags were filled on site with sand from the Namib, and the areas have since recovered. This natural building material has very good noise and heat insulation qualities.
The Desert Grace is equipped with a solar system that covers part of the daily energy consumption. Energy efficient light bulbs are also used and care is taken to avoid light pollution at night.
Despite the lodge's remote location, waste is sent weekly to Rent-a-Drum in Windhoek for recycling. Food waste from the kitchen and restaurant is fed to pigs at the neighbouring Namib Desert Lodge.
Water consumption is checked daily. Under the motto "Every drop counts," various water-saving measures have been introduced, including water recycling equipment. Treated wastewater is returned to the aquifer through sand and rock.
The Desert Grace opened its doors in 2018 and created new job opportunities. The positions were filled through training and promotion of internal staff from other Gondwana lodges, as well as recruiting and training new staff, who also received an introduction to conservation and teamwork. The lodge team periodically participates in cleanups along the busy C19 to Sesriem in an effort to minimise litter in the area.
In 2019, The Desert Grace received the highest Namibian eco-label ‘5 Green Flowers’ from Eco Awards Namibia.
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