In our previous article we analyzed what is sustainable tourism and what is the meaning of a sustainable or green hotel and how a resort can be green. The subject of this article is to help you to understand how you can recognize if the hotel that you are going to book is sustainable or not. So we are going to answer the question how to recognize a green hotel?
There are many ways for a hotel to be green and to communicate it with its future clients. There are a lot of certificates which a hotel can get in order to be confirmed as green. Let’s take a look to these certificates, how they look and what is their meaning.
But before start to analyze them is important to mention that is voluntarily for a hotel to be green. So an environmental certification is an initiative where a company voluntarily undertakes to comply with predefined environmental standards.
Which green certificates exists?
Lets show you how to recognize a green hotel. Here are some of the most well-known globally certificates which can indicate a hotel as eco-friendly.
ISO 14001 environmental management systems
The ISO standards are probably the most frequently appear certificates as everyone have seen one of them for sure. The ISO exists almost in all categories. The ISO 14000 series includes a large family of environment related standards. The ISO 14001 is the most popular standard of the ISO 14000 family and it provides guidelines for the establishment and continuous improvement of an environmental management system
The ISO 14001 is suitable for organizations of all types and sizes, private, not-for-profit or governmental. It requires that an organization considers all environmental issues relevant to its operations, such as air pollution, water and sewage issues, waste management, soil contamination, climate change mitigation, resource use and efficiency.
The certification in ISO case is confirmed by a third-party certification after audit about the practices that have been applied. In that a way, there is a signal to the visitors, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders that the hotel have implemented the standard properly.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a statement of a company to specific social and environmental goals. CSR initiative can refer in Environmental, Ethical, Philanthropic and Economic Responsibility.
The aim of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is to note that the hotel contributes to environmental and / or social goals. The environmental part of a CSR can, for example, involve the reduction of the pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and a sustainable use of natural resources. In that case there is not some kind of audit like the ISO one. So, the company by its own builds a report which have to communicate with its customers of stakeholders.
The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI)
HCMI is a methodology and tool developed by the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in partnership with KPMG and 23 global hotel companies. HCMI applies the principles of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Standard at the hotel level.
To have a Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI), the hotels have to measure and report on carbon emissions in a consistent way. It can be used by any hotel from small guesthouses to 5 stars resorts in any geographical locations. In that case the final indicator is the value of the total carbon footprint of the hotel.
Travelife is an internationally recognized accommodation sustainability program. This program offers to the hotels practical tools like check lists with a lot of criteria in order to improve their business’s environmental, financial and social impact.
Another organization which give certificates is the Green key. The criteria to receive this certification include 13 areas. environmental management, staff involvement guest information water washing and cleaning waste energy food and beverage indoor environment green areas corporate social responsibility green activities and administration. Similarly, with the ISO and the travel live this certificate need audit for its confirmation.
Why a hotel be sustainable?
Here is a question which logically can be arise by the visitors. As we see from the above the environmental certificates are voluntarily. So, why a company to engage in environmental certification. And specifically why a hotel to pay to be eco-friendly. Which are the benefits for a hotel for example to have a certification like the above ones.
First is about the environmental sustainability. The organization wants to improve its environmental performance so decides to start the procedure for a certificate.
Of course money being an important factor. A certificate may proof to be beneficial for a better financial performance of the hotel. It can help a hotel to reduce its costs. For example, a certificate set as a target the reduction of wastes and thus the reduction of raw material, which mean lower costs. Also with an implementation of a certificate an organization reduce the risk for noncompliance with environmental legislation and the risk of paying penalties.
Visitors are also an important reason for a hotel to go green. A certificate can help a hotel to gain the more environmental sensitive customers and so to increase the bookings.
A certificate can give a better recognition and reputation for a company. For example, it can have improved the relations with the local community or the stakeholders and as a result to create a better public image for the company.
Finally, a certificate can help with the competitiveness. A green hotel can take an advantage in competitiveness in the marketplace. For example, studies have shown that there are customers that will select to book a hotel which is green from a non-green hotel. This is critical as the market is becoming increasingly sensitive about green issues.
Now you know how to recognize a green hotel. So when you are going to search for your next accommodation to a hotel you can check which hotel is eco-friendly. You can take a look at the website of the hotel for these signals. Usually signs like these are located at the bottom page of the hotel or there is a part in the menu referred to sustainability issues.