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How Green is my Valley

Apr 26, 2018 | Beautiful Spaces, Featured

Sustainability has been at the heart of Val de Vie Estate in the Cape Winelands since its inception
When Val de Vie founder Martin Venter set his sights on replacing a sand quarry with a world-class polo field, sustainability was the crux of his vision. It was 2004, and only a few experts were warning that water might in future become a scarce resource in the Western Cape. Sustain ability is defined on EnvironmentalScience.org as looking to protect our natural environment, human and ecological health while driving innovation and not compromising our way of life. This underpins the ethos behind Val de Vie, where a forward-thinking management team remains ahead of the curve in meeting this goal. Marketing director Ryk Neethling explains how they’ve moved beyond the literal interpretation of the name, Valley of Life, which they’ve always regarded as a nod to the natural beauty of their surroundings, to the realisation that “life” is actually bubbling below ground level. Investigation into their potential aquifer yield began 18 months ago, resulting in the construction of a filtration plant worth nearly R100 million that will purify the estate’s borehole water for residents’ benefit.

THINKING GREEN
“We’re very fortunate to be in a position to work with the Drakenstein Municipality on this project, which will free up municipal water resources for the community at large that would normally have been channelled to the 1 500 homes on the 100 ha estate,” says Ryk. The irrigation footprint of the Pearl Valley Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course has been decreased by one-third over the past season in an attempt to lower water consumption. And an internal awareness campaign has over the past year resulted in a significant decrease in water consumption on the estate. Smart water meter systems, installed in all homes, provide Val de Vie management with real-time monitoring of daily consumption and help homeowners with leak alarms, and all new homes come standard with plumbing that supports greywater systems. Management’s sustainable development philosophy extends to green buildings, having partnered with Saint-Gobain, world leaders in the habitat and construction markets, to erect homes faster with better insulation, reducing the need for artificial heating in winter or cooling in summer, and Energy Partners, to install home energy systems that draw on solar power. These are just some of the aspects that contribute to Val de Vie’s top ranking among South Africa’s leading residential estates in the AfrAsia Bank/New World Wealth September 2017 survey for the third consecutive year. “With that status comes pressure,” says Ryk, “but it’s not about us saying ‘look how great we are’ – there’s also something about inspiring other people and challenging them and setting a benchmark. It’s about being a responsible developer, not just going in for the profit but leaving the space in a better condition than we found it. Look at the bird, plant and animal life we’ve introduced here. We’re conservationists, in a sense.”

“ALL NEW HOMES COME STANDARD WITH PLUMBING THAT SUPPORTS GREY-WATER SYSTEMS”

TEXT Debbie Hathway  PHOTOGRAPHS Supplied

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