At present, all Van der Valk hotels are built in accordance with strict sustainability demands. All newly built locations will take this further than the law demands. Van der Valk recognizes the worldwide problems with the climate and wishes to do everything it can to limit the taxation from its operation to a minimum.
That is why there are hotels who built under the BREEAM, but also according to the Measure Very Sustainable Utility Construction (“measure”). These are two evaluation methods for evaluating the sustainability performances of a building.
Hotel Groningen-Hoogkerk chose to build according to this measure. For example, the restrictions from the measure dictate that the EPC (energy performance coefficient) should be 70% at most. The measure also lets us take steps to keep the hotel multi-functional, as described below. The structural and installation engineering design should be flexible enough to always allow for another use of the building without much effort and waste of construction materials (which thus creates a sustainable building). The measure also dictates that only sustainably produced wood (FSC/PEFC) may be used and that water-saving measures should be taken.
To realize an EPC of at most 70%, Hotel Groningen-Hoogkerk has taken the following steps:
- A source installation has been applied. The heat and cold storage (HCS), which is connected to a heat pump, is a very sustainable technology compared to the conventional method of air-conditioning the building.
- The air treatment system is CO2-operated, which means that it ventilates based on the amount of CO2 in the building. In this way, ventilation only occurs when necessary.
- An innovative technology is applied regarding the heat recovery of the extractor hoods of the kitchen. In the past, this was not possible due to the high grease levels of the extracted air. With this new technology, the extracted air is first cleaned of grease and then lead through a heat exchanger, so that the warm air can be used again.
- The heat of the regrigerator and freeze installation is used to heat the tap water. This tap water is used for showering, among other things.
- By means of a HT (high temperature) water/water heat pump, the tap water is immediately brought to the desired temperature of > 60 degrees.
- A key card system ensures that the temperature of the rooms when vacant is cooled and heated in an economical mode (meaning “a larger bandwith”) and that the lighting turns off automatically.
- A BMS (building management system) ensures that, among other things, the heating and cooling can be controlled as efficiently as possible and any errors in the air-conditioning systems can be tracked down at an early stage.
- All ventilation air passes through a HRS (heat recovery system). This allows for the warm air to be reused in the building.
- The shell of the building is equipped with high-end triple glass to further increase the air and sound isolation.
- The entrance is equipped with a revolving door with heat curtain to minimize door losses.
- All lighting consists of sustainable lighting, including LED.
The measures above are building related, but that is not enough to us. At the operational level, we have been Green Key Gold-certified since we opened. This is the highest environmental award within the Green Key, the international certification for sustainable companies in the recreation and leisure industry and business market. The total scope should provide a minimum taxation for the environment.
For Green Key Gold, about 60 measures have to be taken to fly the label. This regards various kinds of measurements. For example, there are measurements regarding sustainable procurement, consciousness of employees, water-saving, cleaning agents, use of chemicals, use of linen, waste, energy, air-conditioning, food and beverage, transport management and social involvement.
We are taking on the challenge for especially food and beverage; we offer various, less environmental taxing products. For example, think of regional products, but also Fair trade- and biologically produced products are on the menu. A vegetable garden will be placed on the hotel grounds, allowing us to produce various products ourselves. The menu also has sufficient choice for vegetarians.
To counteract food wastage, we offer modified portions for the small eaters. It is too much to expect that no food will be thrown out, but we will try to limit this to a minimum. The food scraps are very hygienically stored underground, with the help of a vacuum. These food scraps are then transported to a fermentation plant in the Netherlands, where it is used to generate green electricity.
With the efforts listed above, we think we are on the right track towards fulfilling our corporate social responsibility. However, CO2 emissions will always exist. Our intention is to let our CO2 footprint be calculated soon, so that we can go fully climate neutral and can compensate the emission with Gold standard projects. These are sustainability projects at various places in the world, which reduce CO2 emissions at a global scale.