Home Air Quality HAC’s Green Key Program Steamrolls Toward 800 Participants

HAC’s Green Key Program Steamrolls Toward 800 Participants

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OTTAWA, ONTARIO—A year and a half after launching its Green Key Eco-Rating program, the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) has rated more than 400 hotels and will soon have an additional 400 properties participating. Anthony Pollard, president of HAC, anticipates having 2,000 hotels on board by the end of 2007.

With approximately 6,800 hotels in Canada, 2,000 properties would represent almost 30 percent of the total number. Even though there are other rating programs to choose from, hoteliers in Canada appear to have locked in on this one. Several factors are driving the program’s success. The first is ease of use. Those wishing to participate can apply and complete the 140 qualifying questions online at HAC’s website.

Pollard says the cost is also reasonable—$350 for an independent property and $300 for hotels that are part of a franchise or chain. Before bringing the Green Key program in-house a year and a half ago, fees were higher. That discouraged participation. Another significant factor driving interest is the potential for government business. The government of Canada, one of the biggest users of hotels in the country, has endorsed the program and some departments require employees to stay at Green Key hotels.

HAC’s Green Key program was established and is run with the assistance of a consultant. The consultant ensures that the program is consistently updated to reflect industry advances in areas such as product technology. To achieve a Green Key rating from one to five, with five being the best, hotels must excel in areas such as energy management, water conservation, waste management, indoor air quality and community involvement. Performance in other areas also is considered. Each of the 140 questions has a value assigned to it.

Report Summarizes Improvement Areas

After an application is submitted, HAC reviews it and determines the hotel, motel or resort’s rating. HAC then provides a report that details how to maximize additional opportunities to reduce operating costs and environmental impact through reduced utility consumption, employee training and supply chain management. Strengths and weaknesses are highlighted in the report. Even though the program does not require an onsite inspection, HAC does conduct spot audits.

Throughout the year, Green Key participants have access to tips and other resources such as articles and case studies at the program’s website. Each year, HAC sends out plaques to newly rated properties. Getting to promote the fact that one’s hotel has been Green Key rated is an important benefit.

“A lot of hotels use it in their sales and marketing programs,” Pollard says. “Because travelers are looking for Green Key hotels, it works well for everyone.”

According to HAC, six out of 10 Canadians are looking for environmentally friendly hotels as an important part of their travel plans.

At Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, it is mandatory to be part of Green Key. Michelle White, manager of environmental affairs for the company, says Fairmont thought it was important to participate. All of Fairmont’s hotels are rated three or four keys except the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta. It has five keys.

“It is a well recognized program,” White says. “When you are competing for business, the green rating helps. It is not overly time intensive. Hotels know they can be spot checked. It is an exclusive process and cost effective. Our hotels definitely have benefited from the additional business from the government as well as from environmental organizations.”

Pollard says hoteliers across Canada appreciate a program that is run by hoteliers for hoteliers with third-party credibility. They also value a program that promotes consistent standards across the country.

Canada’s Leading Brands Participate

Among other companies participating are Choice Hotels Canada, Delta Hotels and Atlific Hotels & Resorts. Days Inns-Canada just announced that all 87 of its locations across Canada will participate. Most should receive their ratings by the end of the year.

“As active supporters of the HAC Green Key Eco-Rating program, Days Inns-Canada is dedicated to working with our properties to ensure they improve their environmental performance and incorporate eco-friendly solutions to their business model,” said Irwin Prince, president, Days Inns-Canada, in a press release announcing his company’s participation. “Together we are pleased to be a part of this graduated rating system which will result in improved energy performance.”

Go to the HAC Green Key website for more information.

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

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