The V&A Waterfront is an iconic mixed-use destination, located in the oldest working harbour in the southern hemisphere. With Table Mountain as its backdrop, the 123-hectare neighbourhood sits within the beautiful city of Cape Town, welcoming millions of people from all over the continent and the rest of the world. The V&A is a symbol of heritage and diversity, where people from all walks of life can play, live, shop, dine and work while immersed in the vibrant spirit and authentic local culture that thrives in this bustling ecosystem. It sees its role on the continent to be a platform that facilitates and champions art and design, to support entrepreneurship and innovation, lead the charge on sustainability, and drive positive social and economic change. By prioritising people and the planet, the V&A is an example of how working with communities, respecting the environment, and operating with passion and integrity is a better, more productive, and kinder way of doing business.
The organisation sees for itself the opportunity to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all, in alignment with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
We eat, sleep and drink our culture of sustainability, understanding that without being environmentally responsible, we may be held responsible for the loss of the beautiful place we call home.
But it’s no good just talking the talk. We are also dedicated to walking the walk. To this end, we have created Solve, our thought leadership hub aimed at solving for X – where X represents the many challenges faced by today’s urban environments. We are facing and solving those challenges in collaboration with key stakeholders in each of those spheres.
For example, our far-reaching sustainability efforts such as waste management, recycling and water conservation practices have earned the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre a prestigious 5-star Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA) – the highest rating for any shopping centre in the country. We’ve also won an additional 13 GBCSA awards and have earned Diamond Status for three consecutive years in a row through our Heritage Environmental Rating Programme, making our neighbourhood one of South Africa’s greenest precincts in Africa
We believe that everyone has an important part to play. Our tenants are incentivised to recycle, with our waste recovery and recycling centre sorting waste (including wet waste) from an average of 550 bins, gathered from 384 collection points, twice a day. This means that, over the past year, we have diverted more than 1 400 tons of waste from landfill.
Energy efficient initiatives are in place across our districts. The Ridge, a commercial building in the Portswood District, has been awarded a 6-star Green Star Office Design by the GBCSA, exceeding standards and being commended for demonstrating “world leadership”.
We’ve also invested in multiple energy-saving projects, inclusive of solar-power projects – achieving a remarkable 40% saving on electricity consumption, despite the increase in property growth
On average, we have reduced our carbon footprint by 47% across the property using 2010 as a baseline.
Sustainability is an ongoing everyday mission. Everyone who shares the space – tenants, residents, employees, suppliers, management and our millions of guests – are encouraged to make the active choice to recycle their waste, be water-wise and energy efficient and integrate “green” thinking into their daily lives. That’s how we create sustainable futures – together.
In 2008, water-saving initiatives were introduced that include water-efficient toilets and urinals, sensor-operated taps in all bathrooms, drip irrigation for all ground covers and pre-set irrigation times in alignment with the current by-laws. Stringent measures have been implemented to save water, and since 2010 water use by the V&A Waterfront has been cut by 61%.
What comes next?
The V&A has long integrated social issues into its business model, with a focus on incubating start-ups and providing inclusive public spaces. Its management is now implementing a shared value strategy, as a natural evolution of the V&A’s important social role. Shared value creation is about using an organisation’s competitive advantage, skills, and business model to address the most important issues facing society. It commits the entire organisation to solving these issues, acknowledging the interdependence between company competitiveness and community health.
This philosophy is particularly suited to the V&A ecosystem, which has consistently supported innovation and job creation, notably by incubating small businesses. This transition was already in progress prior to the Covid-19 pandemic but this social crisis has accelerated it, amplifying the need for organisational agility, collaboration, and sustainability with a particular focus on the following areas within the Waterfront: • food ecosystem • ocean economy ecosystem • green sustainable practice.