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Green Key Criteria

Green Key Criteria

In the world of tourism, environmental responsibility, and sustainable practices are becoming increasingly important. Green Key, a globally recognized organization established in 1994, is at the forefront of promoting eco-friendly businesses in the tourism industry. Administered by the non-profit entity Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), Green Key grants certifications that endorse environmental responsibility and sustainable practices.

With over 3000 establishments across 60+ countries proudly displaying the Green Key certification, guests have the power to make a positive impact. By choosing to stay at a Green Key certified establishment, visitors can be assured that they are actively contributing to a more sustainable environment. Green Key certification signifies that the establishment has met the demanding criteria established by the FEE, demonstrating their dedication to responsible and sustainable tourism practices.

What does the Green Key ecolabel ensure?

·       Adherence to rigorous criteria.

·       High-level integration of sustainability in management and operations.

·       Reduction in resource consumption.

·       Creation of awareness and behavioral changes.

·       Increased utilization of environmentally friendly and sustainable methods.

·       Third-party verification.

·       Regular on-site audits.

·       Requirement for continuous improvement.

See the ecolabel on the image below.

Which establishments are eligible to apply for a Green Key certificate?

Green Key offers its sought-after certificates to a wide range of establishments! From hotels and hostels to campsites and restaurants, the certificate recognizes the commitment of various businesses toward sustainable practices. Below we list the diverse types of establishments eligible to apply for a Green Key certificate, highlighting the inclusive nature of the program.

Eligible Establishments:

Hotels: Whether it is luxurious resorts or cozy boutique hotels, Green Key welcomes all types of hotels that prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility in their operations.

Hostels: Budget-friendly accommodations also can participate in the Green Key program. Hostels that implement eco-friendly practices can display their commitment to sustainable tourism.

Campsites: Embracing the beauty of nature, campsites that demonstrate a dedication to environmental conservation and responsible camping practices are eligible for the Green Key certification.

Small Accommodations: Green Key recognizes that sustainability is not limited to large establishments. Even small-scale accommodations, such as bed and breakfasts and guesthouses, can strive for and achieve the Green Key certification.

Conference Centers: Promoting sustainability in business events, conference centers that prioritize eco-friendly practices and provide sustainable options for their attendees are encouraged to apply for the Green Key certificate.

Holiday Parks: With a focus on creating memorable and sustainable experiences for vacationers, holiday parks that adopt eco-friendly measures and engage in responsible tourism can be recognized through the Green Key certification.

Restaurants: In the realm of dining, Green Key acknowledges the importance of sustainable practices. Restaurants that prioritize locally sourced ingredients, waste reduction, and energy efficiency can demonstrate their commitment to a greener food industry.

Attractions: From museums and historical sites to amusement parks and zoos, attractions that integrate sustainability into their operations and promote environmental education can join the Green Key movement.

Find the applicable criteria for your establishment here.

Which topics are covered within the criteria?

Green Key covers a wide range of topics within its criteria and ensures that certified establishments adhere to a comprehensive set of sustainable practices. Below we list the various topics covered within the Green Key criteria, highlighting the holistic approach to sustainability embraced by the program.

Topics Covered within the Criteria:

Administration: Green Key emphasizes the importance of integrating sustainable practices into the administrative aspects of establishments, including procurement, supply chain management, and environmental reporting.

Staff Involvement: Green Key emphasizes the importance of engaging staff members in sustainable practices, encouraging their active participation and contribution to environmental initiatives.

Environmental Management: Certified establishments must demonstrate effective environmental management systems, including policies, procedures, and practices that minimize their environmental footprint.

Guest Information: Green Key recognizes the significance of providing guests with accurate and comprehensive information about environmental practices, encouraging them to make sustainable choices during their stay.

Water: Efficient water management, including measures for conservation, reduction, and responsible use, is a crucial aspect of Green Key certification criteria.

Energy: Green Key promotes energy efficiency and encourages establishments to adopt renewable energy sources and implement energy-saving measures to reduce their carbon footprint.

Washing & Cleaning: Sustainable practices in washing and cleaning operations, such as using eco-friendly products, optimizing water usage, and minimizing the use of harmful chemicals, are key criteria for Green Key certification.

Food & Beverage: Green Key values sustainable food and beverage practices, encouraging establishments to prioritize local sourcing, organic options, waste reduction, and responsible consumption.

Waste: Certified establishments must implement effective waste management strategies, including recycling, composting, and minimizing waste generation, to contribute to a circular economy.

Indoor Environment: Creating a healthy and eco-friendly indoor environment through proper ventilation, lighting, and use of environmentally friendly materials is a vital criterion for Green Key certification.

Green Areas: Green Key encourages the preservation and enhancement of green spaces within establishments, promoting biodiversity and providing a natural environment for guests to enjoy.

Green Activities: Certified establishments are encouraged to offer green activities that connect guests with nature, raise awareness about environmental issues, and promote sustainable lifestyles.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Green Key recognizes the significance of social responsibility and encourages establishments to contribute positively to local communities and engage in ethical practices.

These 13 topics are covered in the criteria applicable to the various types of establishments listed previously in this article. Green Key ensures that certified establishments prioritize sustainable practices across all aspects of their operations. By meeting these criteria, Green Key-certified establishments demonstrate their commitment to creating a greener and more sustainable future for the tourism industry.

What steps does the application process consist of?

Step 1: Application submission. First-time applicants must provide the required documents, while repeat applicants should submit necessary updates and demonstrate improved performance aligned with the criteria.

Step 2: Audits. On-site audits are conducted prior to certification, upon certification, and subsequently every third year. Off-site audits involving document evaluation are performed when on-site audits are not conducted.

Step 3: Third-party verification decision. Third-party verification is carried out by an independent auditor, a National Jury, or an International Jury.

Step 4: Certificate issuance. Once an establishment's application is approved, it is awarded the Green Key certificate and a plaque.

Step 5: Renewal. The certificate is valid for one year and must be renewed annually.

Find more information about the application process here.

What are the benefits of acquiring the Green Key certificate?

Acquiring the Green Key certificate is more than just a recognition of sustainable practices. It comes with a host of benefits that establishments in the tourism industry can enjoy. From assurance of high quality and adherence to rigorous standards to international recognition and ongoing support.

Benefits of Green Key Certification:

1.     Assurance of High Quality and Adherence to Rigorous Standards:

Green Key emphasizes transparency and accountability. With regular on-site audits conducted by well-trained auditors and third-party verification, certified establishments can be confident in their adherence to rigorous sustainability standards. The certification serves as a symbol of quality and commitment to environmental responsibility.

2.     International Recognition of Certification:

Green Key is a globally recognized certification program. Acquiring the Green Key certificate provides establishments with international recognition for their sustainable practices. This recognition enhances their reputation among eco-conscious travelers and positions them as leaders in the industry.

3.     Low Participation Costs:

Participating in the Green Key program is accessible to establishments of various sizes and budgets. The program offers low participation costs, making it feasible for a wide range of businesses to engage in sustainable practices and receive the associated benefits of certification.

4.     Ongoing Support in Implementing Sustainability Measures:

Green Key goes beyond certification by providing ongoing support to certified establishments. This support assists them in implementing and enhancing sustainability measures. Establishments can benefit from guidance, resources, and best practices shared by Green Key, enabling continuous improvement in their sustainable initiatives.

5.     Multi-Stakeholder Driven Program:

Green Key is a multi-stakeholder driven program, fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing among various stakeholders in the tourism industry. By participating in Green Key, establishments become part of a network that encourages dialogue, innovation, and collective efforts toward a more sustainable future.

6.     Potential for Promotion through the Green Key Platform:

Certified establishments gain the potential for promotion through the Green Key platform. This exposure can increase visibility and attract eco-conscious travelers seeking sustainable accommodations and experiences. The Green Key platform acts as a marketing tool, connecting establishments with a targeted audience that value environmental responsibility.

In summary, Green Key provides a valuable platform for promoting and enhancing sustainable practices. By embracing the Green Key certification, establishments demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility and position themselves as leaders in the global movement toward sustainable tourism. Let us embrace the benefits of Green Key certification and collectively contribute to a greener, more sustainable future in the tourism industry!

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