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Sustainability

at Dover Hall

Nestled in the countryside just outside Richmond, VA, the 38,000 sq. ft. Dover Hall estate is recognized for elegant, luxurious weddings and corporate events. The well-known European-style event venue is evolving its sustainability programming by partnering with Richmond-based NOPE Compost Company and Steve White, President of the Richmond Beekeepers Association and owner of Twin Hickory Honey

Dover Hall’s Sustainability Vision

Dover Hall has long used sustainability tactics like LED lighting, a 31-unit geothermal HVAC system, recycling, and pre-consumer kitchen waste composting delivered to a local farmer. Dover Hall is home to 31 geothermal HVAC units that use the Earth's stable temperatures to heat and cool the space, thus reducing the need for fossil fuels. At 38,000 square feet, a conventional system would consume 19,000 gallons of oil annually resulting in 430,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Our geothermal system produces only 114,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, a savings equivalent to taking more than 25 cars off the road for the entire year. Dover Hall is known for its luxurious and grand chandeliers throughout the home and spiral staircases. Incandescent bulbs can emit up to 80% carbon dioxide, so we have converted all 3679 bulbs to LED, which emit only 1% or less. This in turn reduces greenhouse gases and helps combat global warming. In between the nearly 4,000 vines planted on the Dover Hall estate grounds, we planted grass in between the rows to prevent soil erosion into the nearby ponds on the property.  Every year, we provide more than 1000 gallons of used kitchen oil to a third party that converts it into eco-diesel. Also known as biodiesel, it is considered to be nearly carbon neutral during use and in turn, significantly decreases greenhouse emissions. 

 

The new collaboration with NOPE Compost will allow the event company to expand its composting to post-consumer food waste for all of its weddings and high-profile corporate events, which can number up to 350 guests. "At Dover Hall Experiences, we believe in creating more than just beautiful memories for your special occasions. We're a team passionate about genuine hospitality, and that extends beyond our doors. We're committed to positively impacting our community by actively protecting our environment and fostering biodiversity for future generations," says Jeff Ottaviano, Co-Owner of Dover Hall Experiences. "By implementing sustainable practices into everything we do, we hope to pave the way for a future where luxury celebrations and environmental responsibility go hand in hand," added Kate Belleman, Director of Sales at Dover Hall Experiences.

Dover Hall's Sustainability Initiatives increase with Post-Consumer Composting and Honey Bees

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Partnership with NOPE Compost Company

Dover Hall teamed up with Richmond’s NOPE Compost Company to expand their composting efforts to include all post-consumer food product waste generated at its venue during its renowned weddings and corporate events. Composting, the process of decomposing organic matter, reduces waste sent to landfills and produces nutrient-rich soil to grow crops without relying on synthetic fertilizers. 

Previously, Dover Hall was delivering pre-consumer kitchen waste & food scraps to a local farmer. Now, NOPE will be collecting ALL of the organic food scraps generated by Dover Hall Events and transforming them into nutrient-rich compost through NOPE’s commercial composting partner, McGill Compost.

"NOPE Compost Co. is thrilled to partner with Dover Hall on this sustainability initiative. The team at this stunning venue and event space has been fantastic to work with. They truly care about making a positive impact on the local food system & environment. I feel that this partnership serves as a model highlighting how organizations can incorporate small changes such as compost collection to make a substantial environmental impact," said Ryan Owenby, Account Manager, NOPE Compost Co.

Dover Hall’s composting program will divert thousands of pounds of organic matter from landfills each year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Joe Empson, Culinary Team Member and Compost Project Leader, said, "I’m excited to get our monthly stats from NOPE, and hang them on the board for the Event Team to see. It’s important for the team to understand the why of our new procedures."

The organic waste collected will be transformed into compost, which will then be used to enrich gardens, farms, and landscapes, promoting eco-friendly practices. 

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 Composting Fast Facts

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Every year, U.S. landfills and trash incinerators receive 167 MILLION TONS of garbage. More than 50% of typical municipal garbage set out at the curb is compostable.

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Composting reduces waste sent to landfills, enhances soils, and protects the climate. 

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One ton of compostable waste, which is equivalent to about 2,000 pounds, can potentially produce approximately 550 to 880 pounds of finished compost

Beekeeping & Pollination Initiative with Richmond Beekeepers Association

In addition to expanding our composting program, Dover Hall is venturing into beekeeping. The estate has joined forces with Steve White, President of the Richmond Beekeepers Association and owner of Twin Hickory Honey to introduce honey bees to the property. Honeybees play a vital role in pollination and are crucial to the health of ecosystems. By hosting honey bees on the estate, the honeybees will aid in the pollination of the local flowers. Even though grape vines are self-pollinating, the bees will assist in pollinating the cover crops that contribute to the health of the grape vines. This helps ensure that the Cabernet Franc and Viognier grapes grown on the Dover Hall Estate maintain the highest quality before becoming 7 Lady Vineyard’s  award winning wines.

"The honeybee tirelessly tends to over 90 different crops, pollinating one-third of the world's food, so too must we diligently nurture and protect our environment to ensure a bountiful harvest for generations to come," said Steve White.

Mr. White, an experienced beekeeper, will be responsible for managing the honey bee colonies at Dover Hall. The bees will not only contribute to the ecological balance of the area but will also produce sustainable honey, which can be used in the culinary offerings at Dover Hall's events.

"Super excited for our bees," said Robert Howell, Director of Business Development, "Honeybees play such a vital role in healthy ecosystems by enabling the reproduction of many plant species that provide food and habitat for so many other animals. Bee populations are in decline. Dover Hall's bee hives will support these essential pollinators. The thing I’m most excited about is sharing the story of our bees, and the story of Richmond Beekeepers with our youngest guests at Dover Hall. We’ll share some honey and teach youngsters how important these little critters are," said Howell.

To learn more about honeybees, please click here to receive an invitation to join the Richmond Beekeepers Association facebook page, or visit Twin Hickory Honey.

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 Honey Bee Fast Facts

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 A pound of honey is made by 2 million flower visits.

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One honey bee worker only makes an average of 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime.

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1/3 of the human diet relies on honey bees.

A Commitment to Sustainability

"We felt it was critical to find additional sustainable solutions for reducing our environmental footprint," said Jeff Ottaviano, co-owner of Dover Hall. "Partnering with these two outstanding, local organizations allows us to return nutrients to the earth through composting and support bee populations that are so important for plant life and agriculture."

Dover Hall's initiatives demonstrate the feasibility of integrating sustainable practices into hospitality operations, and they are hopeful that others will follow suit. "We are committed to sharing our journey and knowledge, potentially sparking our guests to learn about and consider small-scale composting in their own homes," said Chad Hornik, Co-Owner, of Dover Hall Experiences.  

"This is a small milestone in our company's history," he continued. "We are grateful to our entire team for working to contribute towards a sustainable and biodiverse future. We invite others to join us - every effort, big or small, is pivotal in the collective journey towards a greener planet."

Community and Industry Influence

By partnering with NOPE Compost and the Richmond Beekeepers Association, Dover Hall is not only demonstrating its commitment to sustainability but also supporting local businesses and initiatives.

"It's never too late to give the Earth the same love we offer our employees, clients, guests, and vendors. That being said, sustainability just took a permanent seat as our 7th company core value!", says Jamie Ashenburg, VP of Operations. "After 20+ years in the hospitality industry, mom and dad will be happy that I'm finally putting my environmental technology degree to work!"

As Dover Hall continues to evolve its sustainability programming, it sets an example for other event venues and businesses in the Richmond area. It shows that even in the realm of luxury events, it is possible to prioritize environmental responsibility and create a more sustainable future.

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