Kasteelhoeve Wange wins Green Key Best Practice Competition 2016

To encourage Green Key awarded sites to share their best sustainable methods, technologies, practices, and learn from the experience of others, Green Key International organised the first annual best practice award. The main focus of this year’s competition was Water Management. We are very proud to introduce to you our first winner - Kasteelhoeve Wange from Belgium. Denmark Farm Conservation Centre in Wales and Zaton holiday resort in Croatia finished in second and third place, respectively. 

An international jury of sustainable tourism professionals assessed the national contributions based on different criteria such as level of deployment, innovation, best practice performance, long term perspective, return of investment and scope of the practice. The international jury named Kasteelhoeve Wange from Belgium the winner as they had the most integrated solution with good potential for adaption by others.

Kasteelhoeve Wange is located in the beautiful rolling Hageland, surrounded by hundreds of acres of orchards and fields in Flanders, Belgium. It is a guesthouse and meeting location. They have 25 beds available in single or double rooms and 4 meeting rooms hosting up to a 100 people.

The site breathes sustainability. Their “Water, Energy & Awareness raising integrated management” project is a great example of how to combine innovative natural techniques to reduce the environmental impact of a guest’s stay. 

All the ’polluted’ water that leaves the farm is cleaned in two underground water cleaning installations (60.000 liters). It’s an natural cleaning system, that works on bacteriological bases.  After passing this water cleaning installation, all the water that leaves the farm is clean and drinkable. It enters the Gete, a small river that passes the farm. All the people who stay, live and work at  Kasteelhoeve ( +/- 35 persons a day) do not impact  the quality of the water in a negative, polluting way.

The rainwater captured from the roof of one part of the farm (600 m²) is used for the natural swimming pond.  The water in the swimming pond is partly cleaned by special plants in the pond. It is clean enough to swim, but not clean enough for the use in toilets, because the colour is too brown. In March 2016 a system will be installed to clean this water to use it for the toilets, garden and animals together with an extra pond of 10.000 liters. These 10.000 liters will be cleaned through a small field of Japanese Iris. Japanese Iris are extremely skilled in cleaning water.  In 2017  another roof (600 m²) will be connected to the swimming pond. At that moment the water supply for toilets will be covered for 90 %.

All the sanitary water is heated by a system that works on biomass energy (the use of wood chips). The wood chips are provided by a local producer, located only 5 km from the Kasteelhoeve so there is almost no pollution because of transportation. Within 5 years the wood chips will be self-produced on a place nearby.The wood that is planted will take out the amount of CO2 that the site still produce, of the air. At that moment Kasteelhoeve Wange will be 100% CO² neutral .

The electricity needed for the pumps (heating sanitary water, pumping up the water for the toilets...) is produced by solar panels. The solar system provides 80 % of the electricity needs of the farm. All pumps are low energy pumps (50% less energy use than standard pumps).

Guests are informed about these practices through leaflets and information boards and a ecological tour is offered to those who want to learn more.

First runner –up is the Denmark Farm Conservation Centre in Wales. The centre has a very impressive holistic Water Management System in place featuring an innovative waste water treatment system called WET (Wetland Ecosystem Treatment). It uses natural processes (plants and microorganisms) to clean the water. The system requires a minimal import of resources which makes it interesting for other sites to take over.

Third place is for Zaton holiday resort in Croatia. The hotel engaged their animation staff in guest awarness activities concerning the use of water during their holidays. A simple and easy adaptable idea.

Green Key International is very proud of the achievements realised by these sites and hopes other Green Key establishments are as inspired as we are.

A publication featuring the good practices of the top 3 winners will be available soon under resources.