The Desert Grace, one of Gondwana Collection Namibia's newer lodges – located close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Namib Sand Sea – was one of the two finalists of the Sustainable Development Awards 2021 in the category “Private Sector Champions for Sustainable Development”. Congratulations to the winner of this category, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp by Wilderness Safaris.
The award acknowledges environmentally friendly approaches to the management and use of energy, water and waste, and eco-certification schemes. The Sustainable Development Advisory Council and The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) announced the winners of the nine different categories at the Award Ceremony at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek on Friday, 21 May 2021.
The Desert Grace opened in 2018 and is located in the Gondwana Namib Park 60km north of Sesriem, the gateway to the Sossusvlei area with the highest dunes on Earth. “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”, says Gondwana’s Stephanie de Lange, who registered The Desert Grace for the Sustainable Development Award. “Right from the start, concepts for the sustainable management of the lodge were implemented. We are honored that our efforts have now been rewarded.”
The Desert Grace was the first lodge of Gondwana Collection Namibia to be constructed using sandbags instead of bricks. With a ratio of 7:21, the use of sandbags reduced transport’s emissions; fewer vehicles were needed to transport building material. Furthermore, the bags were filled using sand from the surrounds; these areas have since recovered.
In order to counter carbon dioxide emissions, the lodge partially utilises solar energy for daily operations. Furthermore, all light bulbs are energy efficient, and efforts are made to minimise light pollution at night.
Despite its remoteness, the lodge’s waste is sent to Rent-a-Drum in Windhoek on a weekly basis for recycling. Food-waste from kitchen and restaurant is sent to the neighbouring Namib Desert Lodge and fed to the pigs.
Being desert-based, water consumption is monitored daily. Various water-saving equipment has been installed throughout the lodge, including a water recycling plant. The recycled water sinks back into the aquifer through the sand and rock.
As this lodge was newly constructed, various work opportunities were created. This included the upskilling and promotion of internal employees from other lodges, but also comprehensive training of new employees, including a module on environmental care and teamwork. The lodge team also engages in regular clean-ups along the C19 in an effort to minimise litter in the area.
In 2019, The Desert Grace was assessed by Eco Awards Namibia and received 5 Green Flowers, the highest eco quality seal.
The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) created the Sustainable Development Awards with the aim to identify and reward institutions including individuals who have demonstrated leadership, innovation and excellence in environmentally friendly practices, while encouraging performance of best sustainability practices. The third edition was held under the theme “Accelerating the green economy transformation as we recover from Covid-19”.