Green Key Certification

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Green Key Certification

Published: June 22, 2024

Familiarization with Green Key Certification criteria

In continuation to part2, published on 22nd May 2024, I preferred to include the other prominent Green Key certification criteria which are as under for the benefit of academic and professional application purpose.

Water Management

In striving for sustainability, our hospitality establishment diligently monitors and records monthly water consumption using strategically placed water meters. We are committed to ensuring our water supply remains sustainable and does not strain local resources. Implementing dual flush toilets throughout, capped at 3/6 liters per flush, and maintaining rigorous SOPs for promptly addressing any leaks or drips in public areas, guest rooms, and staff facilities are integral to our water conservation efforts. We adhere strictly to flow standards, limiting overhead showers to 8 liters per minute, wash basin taps to 7 liters per minute, and bathroom taps in guest rooms to 5 liters per minute. Further enhancing our environmental stewardship, we utilize water-saving devices for urinals and employ rainwater harvesting practices, storing and disinfecting rainwater for responsible reuse. Additionally, we prioritize eco-friendly practices by minimizing the use of hazardous chemicals in cleaning agents and opting for non-chlorine bleached paper products, ensuring our operations uphold both environmental sustainability and guest well-being.

To minimize its environmental footprint, the must prioritizes responsible wastewater management. All wastewater generated undergoes treatment in accordance with stringent national and local regulations. Where specific legislative frameworks are absent, the hotel should implement the most advanced treatment technologies available to ensure environmental stewardship. Treated wastewater is actively considered for reuse whenever feasible, aligning with the commitment to sustainable water practices. Well-functioning grease traps in the kitchen contribute to the reduction of the environmental footprint by saving water and chemicals and cut costs. To avoid grease blocking the drains, the establishment must have grease traps in the kitchen, and the grease traps must be emptied regularly.


Waste Management

To foster a sustainable waste management strategy aligned with national and local legislation,z the hotel should implement a comprehensive approach to waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. The hotel should establish a minimum of three distinct waste categories, including paper and cardboard, metals and cans, glass, plastics, organic/food waste, and cooking oil, ensuring compliance with regulatory standards. To minimize waste generation, the hotel should collaborate closely with suppliers to reduce packaging and promote the return or reuse of materials used for food and beverage products. The hotel staff should be trained to segregate waste effectively, with easily accessible sorting facilities on-site. Through partnerships with certified recycling facilities, the hotel should ensure that a significant portion of separated waste is recycled or reused, contributing to environmental conservation efforts. Safety and compliance are paramount, with stringent adherence to storage and handling regulations, guaranteeing the secure management of waste materials. By fostering awareness among both staff and guests and continuously monitoring the waste management practices, the hotel must strive for continual improvement in its sustainability initiatives, aiming to set a benchmark for responsible environmental stewardship within the hospitality industry.

In striving for environmental sustainability and ensuring the safety of both guests and staff, the hotel should adhere to rigorous guidelines for resource conservation and chemical management. Hotel should prioritize the reduction of single-use tableware, reserving their use for essential purposes like pool areas or take-away services, and advocate for biodegradable alternatives made from environmentally friendly materials. Hazardous chemicals are stored in strict compliance with national regulations and Material Safety Data Sheets, housed in ventilated, securely locked facilities separate from other waste. The staff are trained in safe handling practices, with protocols in place to swiftly address any incidents, ensuring minimal impact on human health and the environment. By continuously evaluating and minimizing our chemical footprint, the hotel should strive to uphold its commitment to sustainability while maintaining a safe and enjoyable environment for all.

To enhance the commitment to sustainability and cost-efficiency, the hotel's dining and catering services should implement measures to significantly reduce waste and environmental impact. Specifically, the hotel limits the availability of individually packaged single servings to a maximum of five essential items such as milk, sugar, butter, honey, and jams. It is strongly advocated that replacing these with reusable containers whenever feasible, promoting sustainability without compromising hygiene standards. Integral to its strategy is meticulous waste management, with monthly tracking and categorization of waste quantities. This data informs targeted initiatives aimed at reducing, recycling, and reusing waste across all operations, thereby not only minimizing the environmental footprint but also optimizing operational costs. By adopting these practices, the hotel strives to uphold high standards of environmental stewardship while delivering exceptional guest experiences.

The hotel should implement a sustainable initiative by replacing individually packaged travel-sized toiletries with dispensers for soap, shampoo, and shower gel. This switch aims to significantly reduce plastic waste across guest rooms, public areas, and staff facilities. Ensuring cleanliness and hygiene, the dispensers are regularly refilled and properly cleaned. Guests and staff benefit from the convenience of easy access to these products without the environmental impact of disposable packaging. This approach not only promotes environmental responsibility but also maintains high standards of service and cleanliness throughout the hotel.

To minimize its environmental impact, the hotel has opted not to provide vanity kits or other single-use amenities such as soap, shampoo, shower gel, slippers, shoe polish, shower caps, brushes, and nail files in guest rooms as standard. Instead, these items are available upon request from the reception. This approach encourages guests to request only what they need, reducing unnecessary waste generation. It aligns with the hotel's commitment to sustainability by promoting responsible consumption and minimizing the environmental footprint associated with disposable items.

To promote waste separation and recycling, the hotel encourages both guests and staff to participate by providing separate waste bins. Guests can find these bins conveniently located in their rooms or in public areas such as corridors, lobbies, restaurants, conference areas, and parking areas. Similarly, staff have access to waste bins in areas like the staff canteen and changing rooms. Waste separation can be facilitated through bins designated for different types of waste or through single bins with compartments for various waste categories. Clear instructions, preferably using icons or illustrations, are provided to guide users on where to dispose of specific waste types such as paper, newspaper, bottles, cans, and general waste. This structured approach ensures that waste is properly sorted before being collected and managed at the waste management facility, aligning with the hotel's commitment to environmental sustainability.


Dr Jagat Mangaraj
National Operator, Green Key India

22nd June 2024


Published: May 22, 2024

Familiarization with Green Key Certification criteria


Part1 (earlier publish dated 15th May 2024). In continuation to part1, the other prominent Green Key certification criteria and guidelines are described as under for the benefit of academic and professional application purpose.

Hotel’s active collaboration with relevant local stakeholders

The hotel has many stakeholders with whom it works jointly and the aim of this criterion is to enhance the active role of the hotel, in creating environmental awareness in the local area around it and promoting environmentfriendly practices with the collaborating partners. Thiscriterion mainly focuses on collaboration on environmental issues (e.g. protection of the local biodiversity), but it could also refer to social, cultural, educational, economic, quality,health and crisis management issues. Wherever appropriate, Green Key encourages the hotels to collaborate with theinvolved stakeholders in protection and enhancement of local historical, archaeological, cultural, and spiritually significant sites and traditions. The relevant stakeholders could be non-governmental organisations, local community groups, local authorities, local residents, local schools, suppliers, management authorities of protected areas, etc.

Examples of local cooperation could include cooperationwith local schools on educational and/or sustainability initiatives, supporting museums to promote local heritage, cooperation with local suppliers (other than the sole purchasing of local products), cooperation with local community groups/destination management organisations/authorities on sustainable tourism planning and management in the destination, local infrastructure and social community development projects (e.g. sanitation). Local cooperation, including cooperationon various biodiversity and environmental protection initiatives (e.g. tree-planting, rewilding and creating pollinator-friendly local areas and natural corridors, nature conservation, beach clean-up events, etc.) is strongly encouraged.

The collaboration must have an active two-way collaboration between the hotel and the relevant stakeholders for the benefit of both parties. Hotels must have a minimum of two (2) active partnerships with local stakeholders.

The calculation of hotel’s carbon footprint

The hotel should identify its sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and measures its annual energy consumption and other sources of GHG emissions to make an estimate of its total annual carbon footprint.The hotel tooshould measure the carbon emissions per guest/room night or per guest using a carbon measurement tool. The calculation should be used to check the variations in carbon emissions of the hotel from period to period with the aim to reduce it.The hotel should use its calculated carbon footprint as a basis for fixing a target to reduce carbon emissions by a certain percentage in coming 03 years at least. The hotel also identifies the action plan needed to achieve the target, e.g. reduction in energy consumption, increasing efficiency measures and/or installing on-site renewable energy systems. The hotel should confirm through a third-party verification that it operates its activities in a carbon neutral manner. The hotel shouldhave an emission monitoring and reduction strategy in place under the supervision of the environmental manager of the hotel.

Source: Carbon Footprint

Hotel employees’ involvement towards sustainability approach

The management of the hotel should hold periodic meetings with the employees to brief them on issues concerning existing and new environmental initiatives. The management shouldraise the environmental/sustainability awareness at the hotel.It is important that the management, environmental manager and/or green committee ensure an information flow to the staff and engage the staff in the environmental/sustainability initiatives set by the hotel. Keeping the staff updated about existing and new environmental/sustainability initiatives gives the staff a better understanding of their role in the work and the impact of their contribution, but also enables them to properly inform, and answer questions from guests on the matter. The staff is not only informed about the environmental/sustainability initiatives, but also has the opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions. The information includes issues of environmental management (e.g. water, energy, waste, cleaning, food and beverage, and the circular economy principles: reduce, reuse, recycle, etc.) and other sustainability issues (e.g. local biodiversity issues), but also issues of awareness-raising of guests, staff, suppliers and the surrounding community. Information about Green Key must also be provided to the staff. The management of the hotel, therefore should organise at least 1-3 annual meetings. When planning the meetings, consideration is given to seasonal employeesto ensure the maximum possible staff participation. Both internal staff hired by the establishment as well as staff contracted from an external company should be considered for this initiative.

The environmental manager must take the leading role for the meetings with the management. The meetings between the environmental manager/(the green committee, where applicable) and the management of the hotel are important to keep the management informed and involved in the environmental work of the hotel, as well as to ensure continued endorsement by the management of the work on environmental issues. In some smaller establishments the meetings between the staff and management, and between the environmental manager and management, can be held at the same time. It is expected that the establishment normally holds at least (1-3) meetings per year.

It is imperative that the environmental manager (and green committee), as well as other staff members, receive specific training on environmental and other sustainability issues, so that suitable and feasible solutions for the establishment can be determined and implemented. The training includes issues of environmental management (water, energy, waste, hazardous chemicals, cleaning, food and beverage, air quality, environmentally friendly use of appliances, the circular economy principles: reduce, reuse, recycle, etc.)  awareness-raising of guests, staff, suppliers and the surrounding community, as well as other sustainability issues, addressing climate change, local biodiversity, social, cultural, economic, quality, human rights, health, risk, and crisis management issues. Training should also include knowledge about Green Key and could also be extended to add knowledge on other issues within or around the establishment (e.g. protection of biodiversity).

The training can be both external and internal. External training could be in the form of training courses by consultants, experts, guides or product suppliers, study trips, participation in seminars, webinars and other online courses and studies, networks, etc. In some countries, Green Key seminars and webinars are organised to especially focus on trends and ideas in relation to compliance with Green Key criteria, and these meetings can also be used as a networking platform between Green Key awarded establishments. For hotels that are members of an international or national chain, there is often training conducted on environmental and other sustainability topics within the chain. It is also important that internal courses and training are organised by the environmental manager (and the green committee) for staff members on how to work towards achieving the environmental objectives and actions planned within the establishment. The internal training can involve individual staff members or groups of staff members. In addition to the training, the establishment can offer engaging sustainability initiatives (e.g. competitions) and/or reward systems for the staff. It is expected that each staff member in the establishment normally participates in at least (1-3) training sessions per year organised by the establishment. New staff members should normally receive the training within the first four weeks of their employment.

Housekeeping services-towel/bedsheet change Policy & Practices continue in Part 3


Dr Jagat Mangaraj
National Operator, Green Key India


Published: May 15, 2024

Green Key Certification for Hospitality Establishments


Green Key certification is the leading standard for excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry. Green key certification is for the Hotels, hostels, small accommodations, campsites, holiday parks, conference centers and restaurants. Green key is present in 60 countries and more than 5000 tourism establishments have been certified so far. This prestigious certification scheme represents a commitment by the establishments that their business will adhere to the strict Green Key criteria set by the Foundation for Environmental Education, Copenhagen. Green Key is certified annually following a set of standard procedure, viz application, audit and decision by the Jury. Green Key was developed in Denmarkby Hotel and restaurant Association of Denmark in 1994 and became a programmer, managed by FEE in 2002. Green Key India was launched in August 2023 in New Delhi. Its India head office is at Centre for Environment Education (CEE) Ahmedabad.

Though Green Key has an international agreement collaboration with few international hotel brands namely Accor, IHG, RHG & Best Western however it receives applications from other international hotel brandsas well. Its certification is open to all hotels as per the prescribed criteria & procedure. At present there are a feweco-certification schemes available in India. One eco-certification is followed by many hotels under one leading brand. Few international/national brands in India get their hotels certified through theschemes which focus mainly on the energyand environmental design aspects of the buildings to maximize the utilization of natural resources.So far, no certification process has addressed and included the sustainable hospitality operation within the hotels to minimize the wastage of food & beverage, manpower, Washing & cleaning, green activities, greenarea, Bio-diversity, indoor environment, procurement of the hotel food items, Guests information, Corporate social Responsibility & Administration etc. in their check list.

Under suchpremises, GreenKey certification assumes importance in the Tourism and Hospitality sectors in the context of sustainable hospitality operations. Though Green Key certification in India is 10 months old, it has attracted the attention of the key hotel brands in India. Green key has so far audited 10 Accor hotels and have certified 08 of them. Many Accorhotels have registered for Green Key Certification. Other hotel brands like Marriott & Hyatt are in talks for the certification. Green Key is comprehensive in its approach towards a sustainable hospitality operation within the hotel which makes it stand out among the other certification process. Green Key has 13 major criteria which are very elaborate and specific to each departmental function which addresses the sustainable hospitality operation with an environment friendly approach. It would be difficult to explain all the 13 criteria at one publish in this magazine. It would be preferred to publish in few episodes.

Green key strongly recommends the existence of an Environmental Management team led by an Environmental Manager in the hotel. Generally, chief engineer or the RDM are the ideal profile to head the position of the Environment Manager as they deal all the aspects of sustainable hospitality operations and understand its applications in all core operating departments. The Environment Manager must be well supported as a frontline manager of the hotel along with other core departments. The Environment Manager must devote time seriously to understand the finer aspects of hospitality core operations to build his potential and improve his performance. The hotel must formulate a sustainable Environment policy which should describe the overall aims and ambitions in relation to the establishment’s environmental, social, and economic impact. The sustainability policy is a general statement with a commitment for continuous improvements and monitoring in all hospitality operation. The environmental commitment should include, judicious consumption of resources (energy, water, etc.), commitment to apply the circular economy principles, consumption and monitoring of environmental pollutants, for example chemical cleaning products, air pollutants and fertilizers/pesticides, reducing the carbon footprint, supporting the protection of local biodiversity.

The social, cultural and economic commitment should include, labour rights and equity (including prohibition on using child labour), safe and secure working environment, risk and crisis management, anti-corruption, opposition to commercial, sexual or any other form of exploitation or harassment, particularly of children, adolescents, women, minorities, and other vulnerable groups, support for the equal treatment and rights of people. Hiring staff in all positions including management (especially local residents/minorities), without discrimination on the grounds of age, race, gender, religion, disability, socio-economic status etc, reference to training, information and awareness-raising, reference to the support of the local community, support for the establishment’s involvement in sustainable tourism planning and management locally.

The hotel must formulate objectives and an annual action plan for continuous improvement. The objectives and annual action plan reflect the concrete work towards fulfilling the sustainability policy and include specific objectives to be reached in the coming 1-3 years and specific actions for reaching the planned objectives in the coming year. It is strongly encouraged that the objectives and annual action plan document are developed in cooperation with the core departmental staff and compiled in a way that includes contributions from both the management and the staff.

Many special features of the Green Key Certification would follow in next publish. continue in Part 2


Dr Jagat Mangaraj
National Operator, Green Key India

7863 896 158
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