A BASIC OVERVIEW…
Membership at Level 1 is awarded to hotels that may not have been eco-oriented before but are now indicating the management’s awareness that an eco-friendly approach is part of their respect for the environment. This change could be shown in a simple statement that the hotel had expressed concern about the environmental impact of its operations and that it would henceforth pursue an eco-friendly policy, involving guests, staff, suppliers and the local community in the process.
Membership at Level 2 shows concern at a basic level (separation of waste, advice to guests about energy saving, awareness of the food miles and carbon footprint concepts, with measures taken such as shutters over windows to be closed by cleaning staff during the day).
There may be concern, but no proactive stance (for instance there would not be a specific policy on lighting, or water consumption or solar panels).
The hotel vehicles would probably have been purchased with no regard for emissions (currently euro 5 or 6) and there would be no indication of a policy on eco-vehicles for future purchases.
There would however, be an indication of concern for green issues, for instance in terms of room amenities, through the provision of tea, coffee and milk with farm assured products, free trade concepts, suppliers who are reducing the amount of packaging and similar matters.
A towel and linen policy would probably be in place.
Membership at Level 3 includes the positive aspects of Level 2 but there is a proactive stance towards the environment, with guests made aware that this was a concern to management.
The proactive stance would include, for instance, measurement of electricity consumption and a comparison with previous years, waste separation consciously pursued (and not just eco-points for guests to follow if they wished).
The hotel would be using recycled paper for its stationery and would have an active policy on food miles (explaining to guests what part of their menus came from local produce).
In the case of a small hotel, it might have a garden for vegetables, fruit and herbs; a big hotel might have a contract with a local supplier or be part of a fair trade organization.
The management would be aware of such concepts as sustainability, embodied energy and fuel miles.
Any satisfaction survey for guests to fill in would include questions on the guests’ assessment of the hotel’s approach to the environment.
Membership at Level 4 builds on Level 3, and in addition there should be a member of staff in charge of environmental matters.
This person would be available to talk about hotel policy, to show how active the hotel was, to take comments and criticism on board and show that the hotel was consciously looking for improvements.
There would be a page (or pages) on the hotel’s website where improvements were detailed and comments analysed. There would be an environmental charter giving the main principles guiding management policy, with data on fuel consumption (and comparisons with previous years), an awareness of sustainability issues, a training policy for staff, insulation in rooms and other features geared to energy saving, such as solar panels, or other renewables.
There might also be a rainwater harvesting scheme, and an indication of close cooperation with local authorities and other bodies relating to waste disposal and so on.
The hotel environment charter would be provided for guests or affixed in a prominent place.
There would be a proactive stance in terms of the local population and local schools, perhaps with an environment day when local children could visit the hotel (say on a weekday afternoon in the low season) and do a project on the environment as seen by the hotel.
The hotel vehicle fleet would be consciously chosen for its eco-friendly characteristics and drivers consciously aware of good environmental driving techniques.
Membership at Level 5 builds on Level 4, but the hotel would also have ISO and/or other certificates or awards to show that environmental concerns were an intrinsic part of management policy.
There would be detailed policies (available to guests on request) regarding energy saving (in rooms, kitchens, public spaces and in external facilities such as lighting and parking).
The hotel management would show awareness of the environment in all their dealings with guests, staff, suppliers, local authorities and certification authorities, including regular inspections to check on continuing improvements.
There would be an annual sustainability report published on the hotel website, along with the hotel environment charter.
The member of staff in charge of environmental concerns would be a qualified architect or engineer or maintenance expert, able to demonstrate how eco-friendly policies were implemented in the building fabric, lighting, water management, vehicles, food management, waste and other issues.
In the case of new hotels, they must be constructed in the spirit of innovative buildings aiming to be carbon neutral and to sequester carbon emissions.
It is possible to save paper with electronic purchasing software, with suppliers informed of the hotel’s green policy.
There are now many agreements between hotels and suppliers for collection and reuse of packaging.
Cleaning and washing should be with biodegradable / phosphate-free products. Locally sourced building materials should be used in the hotel wherever possible.