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With almost 24 million visitors a year, the V&A Waterfront’s potential environmental and economic impacts are significant, which is why it constantly strives to minimise the negatives and up the positives. Some 1250 people are employed on the site – the Waterfront Management Company employs 232 people and employment by companies supplying directly to the V&A Waterfront Company total 1 029.

Since 2008, the V&A Waterfront has invested R30 Million into energy efficiency, water savings and waste recycling across the 123 hectare property, as well as introducing a number of other greening initiatives across the precinct. The shareholders have embarked on a programme to green the property in order for the entire operation to be environmentally sustainable, improve efficiencies and save costs. Included in this are the change to electricity tariffs structures, power, lighting and temperature control. Water saving initiatives include water efficient toilets and urinals, water sensor taps in all bathrooms, drip irrigation and variable irrigation times. A waste minimisation drive has nearly halved the amount of waste going to landfills and tenants were incentivised to reduce waste at source by introducing new waste tariff structures.

As part of the company’s commitment towards being environmentally responsible, a sustainability committee was established, contributing significantly to the implementation of initiatives within in the company. In 2013, the programme was opened to the rest of the company in order to create a greater commitment towards a more sustainable or greener environment.

Visitors to the V&A are encouraged to participate in its green conscious ethics. Recycling bins are placed throughout the property, and bicycle lanes encourage visitors to be “car-free. The V&A Waterfront Security Team have also reduced theie carbon emissions by using bicycles instead of vehicles for security patrols.

Implementing responsible tourism practises within the company was a significant initial capital investment at first, but proved to make business sense in the long run as it translated into great savings, as well as a positive impact on the local community. The advantage of being such a big operation is that it can influence the practices of individual premises in the precinct. Tenant criteria and Green Lease documents specify sustainability standards for lighting levels and equipment, paints to be used, and cleaning products that are environmentally friendly and ISO 14001 approved. Home to several buildings rated by the Green Building Council of South Africa, the V&A Waterfront is a gold level recipient of the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme. The Waterfront is the first entity of its’ nature in Africa to have received this award.

At the V&A Waterfront, responsible tourism does not stop at being green. Investment in community is a core part of the company’s ethos. The Young Captains Program engage learners from disadvantaged communities in an intensive internship programmes at the V&A to expose them to working life and workplace skills. An on-site social worker engages with and rehabilitates destitute people who visit the public spaces. The goal is to re-unite them with their families. Various charities are supported through internal fundraising projects, contributions of clothes, food and blankets, and raising awareness of their work through social media campaigns. In a spirit of big helping small to grow, the V&A also provides various trading opportunities for small entrepreneurs.

Explore the V&A’s sustainability programme