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Green Key Global Aligns with U.N. Sustainable Development Goals in New Certification Program

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OTTAWA, ONT—For more than 20 years, the Hotel Association of Canada’s Green Key Eco-Rating program, run by Green Key Global, has been evolving to keep up with changing trends, technologies, operational practices, standards and expectations. According to Rebecca Bartlett-Jones, Manager, Business Development, Green Key Global, the Eco-Rating program is about to evolve again with a new version of the hotel certification program set to launch on February 1. While previously mostly a North America-centric program, moving forward it will be entirely North America-centric.

Already recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Key Global is working toward accredited certification through GSTC. “We want to have the first accredited certification through GSTC,” Bartlett-Jones says.

The upgrades to the Eco-Rating program were driven in part by those running Green Key’s 1,500 certified hotels and 350 certified venues but also because of a desire by the program’s owners to look at sustainability in a more holistic way. The new program, for example, will align with all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. There will be questions on regenerative tourism, corporate and social responsibility (CSR), and environmental, social, and governance factors (ESG). The Eco-Rating program will be more rigorous, requiring properties to report on current processes and plan future initiatives. “We will require planning to also be assessed,” Bartlett-Jones says. “How is your sustainability evolving?”

Mandatory Audit Process

As soon as within 90 days of the submission of a certification application, a property will be audited online by Control Union. Those certifying their properties through Green Key Global will have to recertify every three years.

Green Key Global will be upgrading its Meetings program later this year—making it more holistic as well. The Meetings program will be recognized by GSTC.

To complement the new Meetings program, Green Key Global is working with environmental partners to develop a Carbon Neutral Event certification program for individual meetings and events. Carbon neutrality is achieved by calculating a carbon footprint and reducing it to zero through a combination of efficiency measures in-house and supporting external emission reduction projects. “We will be launching this program by the end of March,” Bartlett-Jones says. “We will be able to certify individual events for carbon neutrality. It will be online. Synergy Enterprises is arranging the carbon offsets.”

Carbon, ROI Calculators Coming Soon

Within the next four months Green Key Global will release a carbon calculator and ROI calculator. Also coming in 2023 is a Greenhouse Gas tool. Increased reporting and benchmarking functionality will also be available for individual properties, hotel groups, and large brands.

Green Key Global will be expanding its supplier program and will offer educational assistance. It will also hold participating suppliers to a stricter code of conduct.

A white paper, webinars and video case studies are also planned. Green Key Global has invested in new marketing materials to support its industry partners.

Internally, Green Key Global is implementing a CSR and ESG strategy and action plan. “We are working with Bullfrog Power to make sure we offset our carbon,” Bartlett-Jones says.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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