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Environmental Rating Systems for Hotels: Sustainability in Hospitality

Green hotel certifications have boomed in popularity, with many consumers becoming increasingly aware of hotel sustainability certifications, even actively looking to book an eco-friendly hotel as a priority over a standard hotel. 

The criteria for meeting these environmental rating systems vary, with everything from water preservation and recycling to EV charging facilities considered. RAW Charging is a leading player in the hospitality sector and the UK’s EV infrastructure, and having worked with large hospitality groups such as Bespoke Hotels, Exclusive Hotels and Greene King, their team is well-placed to shed light on the benefits and different types of hotel sustainability certification. 

 

What is an eco-hotel?

Eco-hotels, also called green hotels or sustainable hotels, are hospitality establishments that prioritise sustainability and environmental impact within their operations. 

Generally speaking, there are two main approaches to creating a green hotel; the first is to build a sustainable hotel from scratch, with environmental impact at the forefront of plans during the design stage and to build in a way that reduces environmental impact, including using less energy and reusing raw building materials. 

The second means involves existing hotels that update their premises and practices to boost their eco-rating and reduce environmental impact. By doing so, they can communicate their eco-friendliness and appeal to a new demographic of guests who prioritise going green. 

 

The benefits of a sustainable hotel certification.

With many companies and countries pledging to achieve net zero carbon emissions, it is vital that hotels follow suit and mirror these efforts to keep up with the competition and showcase that they are making a conscious effort towards sustainable practices. 

Of course, doing so and achieving an environmental certification yields many benefits, including: 

  • Identifying sustainable technologies and practices which will reduce operating costs and improve efficiency. 
  • Compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements. 
  • Increase hotel income by appealing to environmentally conscious customers. 
  • Increase employee engagement regarding environmental and social issues. 
  • Highlight means of improving internal management processes. 
  • Appeal to corporate customers interested in the hotel’s social and environmental initiatives, mirroring their brand and public engagement. 
  • Independently assessing and validating the impact of certification. 
  • Futureproofing the hotel to maintain custom and long-term building value.

 

How can I make my hotel business sustainable?

There are a few ways to go about things regarding upping your environmental rating. However you choose to improve your eco-credentials, you must do so accurately and honestly. Many companies have fallen into the trap of “greenwashing” the public, a term commonly used to describe companies who have promoted their environmental efforts with false figures or without making any meaningful changes. 

Ways in which hoteliers can enhance their sustainability include: 

  • Generally reducing the hotel’s negative impacts on the environment.
     
  • Improving the hotel’s sustainability regarding energy efficiency, water use and waste management. 
  • Considering which products the hotel uses and the sustainability of their supply chain. 
  • Making efforts to maximise the hotel’s social and economic impact on the surrounding community, e.g. installing EV charge points available to the public. 

 

Types of global green hotel certifications.

Global hotel eco-certifications are essential for premises that wish to showcase their credentials and draw in a lucrative pool of new guests and clientele. Examples of environmental certification include: 

  1. Environmental certifications relating to the building itself.

     

    • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the world’s most widely used green building rating system; this certification concerns new builds and complete renovation projects and provides a solid framework for highly efficient, cost-saving green buildings.  
    • BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) scores buildings based on the environmental impact of ten specific criteria, including ecology, energy, pollution, water, waste, and transport. 
  • EDGE certification is awarded to buildings based on their on-site energy savings and includes a certification for zero carbon emissions.

 

  1. Environmental certifications relating to how the hotel is operated.

     

  • Green Key is the environmental certification for hotels, particularly those that host business meetings, given the increase in companies and corporations considering their carbon footprint and environmental impact.  
  • Green Globe is an environmental certification relating to the hotel’s social, economic and environmental sustainability, as well as the sustainability of the hotel’s supply chain partners. 
  • Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is an environmental certification related to sustainable tourism and hotel schemes. Criteria primarily focus on a hotel’s efforts towards sustainable management and socioeconomic, cultural and environmental impacts. 
  • TripAdvisor Green Leaders is an environmental certification introduced to encourage and recognise B&Bs and hotels with eco-friendly practices, such as energy use tracking, linen reuse programs and wastewater treatment. 
  • Earth Check certification is based on management performance, with internationally recognised criteria covering various areas, including environment, risk and quality management. 
  • Travel Accommodation Sustainability is an environmental certification based on criteria covering environmental, social and economic business impacts. 
  • EU Ecolabel or EU Flower is a certification awarded to hotels that can prove their processes have a lower carbon footprint than standard operations, primarily concerning products with less hazardous chemicals, products that last longer and are easier to repair, and products and services that generate less waste and CO2.

 

  1. Other standards for environmental certification.

     

  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides international standards for many different areas of business management, including hotels. Though the ISO does not award certification, a third-party certification body can consider many of its standards and accredit the business based on environmental practices.

    The ISO’s environmentally-focused certification standards include ISO 14001 (environmental management, primarily how a hotel’s operations affect the surrounding environment) and ISO 50001 (energy management). 

 

Communicating your green hotel certification. 

Communicating your eco-efforts is just as critical as taking action in the first place and achieving environmental certification. After all, if you do not shout about your successes, how will potential guests filter out and prioritise your premises over the competition? 

RAW Charging recommends contacting the certification provider to inquire whether using the certification logo is permitted. From here, hoteliers can include the logo and mention of certification in reading material around the hotel, press packs and visible locations around the hotel lobby and corridors.

Any communications should consist of the following: 

  • What the hotel is doing to improve its environmental rating. 
  • What achievements and awards has the hotel managed so far? 
  • How is the hotel addressing and preparing for more significant, long-term environmental issues? 

Many leading green hotels also compile case studies, which is a fantastic means of notifying the press and the public about the hotel’s sustainable practices. 

Are you a hotelier aiming for environmental certification? Achieve your goals with the help of RAW Charging’s Hospitality experts and Host Ownership options

Contact RAW today for more information and a free assessment of your location and premises.