TheLAB, the electro-ecological hotel

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The founder


TheLAB, or The LivinAfrica Box, is a concept that was created by the entrepreneur Jos Balk. With extensive knowledge and many years of experience in the IT sector, Mr. Balk decided to design a house based entirely on an automation system.



Very concerned about the environment and with a real desire to make a difference, he was able to use his knowledge in order to care about the planet. Very quickly, Martine Naber, the general manager, joined the adventure. According to her, automation is the key to control, manage and therefore to reduce energy consumption.


The creation of the project




TheLAB has as its symbol and inspiration the labrador. Why is that? Because he is a profoundly good, pure and honest being. These are the important values on which this ambitious and meaningful project was created.





The concept


TheLAB is a hotel that combines aesthetics, innovation and ecology. It is an unusual place, out of time and far from the touristical classics. This concept is unique, very innovative and was created two years ago. It has been a long road and it took a lot of effort from the whole team to set up this project. Today, TheLAB has three sites, in Franschhoek, Robertson and Hout Bay.



The houses are based on solar energy and a range of services has been developed to reduce the energy consumption of the guests through voice recognition and the controlled automation of the various technologies in the bedrooms and living rooms. This voice recognition made it possible to pre-record answers to certain questions that guests might have about the various ecological aspects of the concept. For example, they will know, by asking, that blue is the most environmentally friendly light, the one that uses the least amount of energy. They will know what automation is actually used for, and they will realize the impact of their sacrifice for the planet.



The human side is one of the pillars of this mansion. The principle is to offer guests a home away from home. This aspect also helps to educate and inform newcomers about the ecological impact of their stay. A point of honour is based on the fact that every small gesture, every sacrifice, every effort made, as an individual person, has a real impact on the planet. Reducing one's energy consumption may involve some sacrifice. For example, through the automation of the system, the air conditioning is turned off after a defined start-up time and the minimum temperature limit is 22 degrees to avoid excessive consumption.




The more the concept develops, the more the different people involved in the management of TheLAB become aware of the impact of their efforts on the energy consumption of the hotel.







An app is used to measure the amount of solar energy produced, used and exported per day, week or month. Data such as the number of kilometres travelled by e-bike are also taken into account to measure the energy saved.










Powered by large solar panels installed on the roofs of each house on each site, this 21-room complex is working on reducing plastic on a daily basis. All the bottles on offer are made of glass and are therefore reusables. A free fountain of still and sparkling water is on self-service all day to reduce the number of bottles used.








Another notable point of effort of TheLAB is the reduction of energy emitted by the displacement of customers. To this end, numerous E-scooters and different types of bicycles are made available to promote responsible means of transport for visits of the surroundings of the sites. It is also possible to use TheLAB's electric car or to take advantage of the recharging stations set up outside the houses.


Numerous projects are now ready to be implemented, particularly in the areas of water saving, waste recycling and sustainable transportation. Indeed, in South Africa today, it is very complicated to use an electric car due to the lack of charging stations and factories in the country. This type of consumption is therefore very expensive and very inclusive. This is why TheLAB team, very concerned by this deficit, is thinking about creating an app that would allow electric car users to easily find a charging station to recharge their vehicles.




The impact





This hotel is a mini-sphere in which guests are invited, even pushed, to become aware of their daily consumption, especially of energy. Through a network of electronic and intelligent infrastructures, TheLAB considerably reduces the environmental impact of a hotel stay at its three sites. The social stakes are also high because this concept not only offers its clients a solution at a given moment in time, it also aims to educate and raise awareness of the importance of daily change.






For more information, please consult TheLAB's website!

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