Five Important Benefits of Green Certification

By Michelle Millar Assistant Professor Hospitality Management, University of San Francisco | January 29, 2012

Green Certification?

Green certification helps consumers identify green hotels, and the practices they incorporate. A certification program also provides hoteliers the opportunity to have their hotel rated and labeled based on predetermined environmental practices and policies. Ratings will vary depending on the organization selected to certify the hotel. In some instances, the hotel self-reports which environmental practices they participate in and in other instances the certifying organization inspects the hotel. Standards that most certification programs use incorporate those areas of the hotel that relate to energy management, waste management, water use reduction, and education. Although the number of companies that certify appears to be growing, a few of the more well known organizations are Green Seal, Green Globe, Green Key, and the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program.

When traveling today, consumers are presented with a wide range of hotels from which to choose. There are mega-resorts, bed and breakfasts, economy and mid-scale hotels that offer more and more amenities as those of full service hotels, and the increasingly popular lifestyle and boutique hotels of all sizes. The growing supply of so many different types of hotels makes it all the more important for hoteliers to create a product that will stand out and be different from its competitors. Green certification is a tool that hoteliers may use to distinguish themselves from others, and it can be applied to all of the previously mentioned hotel types. It can also be used to increase profits, enhance image, expand marketing opportunities, and provide clarity.

Why seek any sort of green certification?

There are five primary reasons why a lodging company might consider green certification.

1. Increased Profitability

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.