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Green Hotel Certification in Canada vs. USA

Canada has a voluntary, self-managed program vs. the US regulated program. Which works best?

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Gold medallion for recognition The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) runs the most widely accepted green hotel rating system in the world--the Green Key Eco-Rating Program.

Walter Willett, director of business development for HAC reports the rating program has 740 hotels participating as of early 2008.

Green Key rates hotels on their environmental sustainability and recognizes them as destinations of choice for eco-conscious travellers.

With the environment a top-of-mind issue for government, business and consumers, a Green Key rating can help increase occupancy and reduce operating costs.

  • The program is run by hoteliers. That brings the program immediate respect.
  • HAC also has made the program easy to access. Participants can complete the application process online in their own time.
  • The program is also comprehensive and affordable—for any size independent or chain hotel.
  • Finally, it is recognized by Canada’s government. In fact, some government departments require travelers to stay at Green Key hotels.

The fact that Green Key does not require third-party verification also is important. It relieves HAC from having to create an expensive organization to manage inspections. Those costs would otherwise be passed along to Green Key applicants. To keep program participants honest, HAC does do spot audits.

"Not requiring third-party verification is allowing the Green Key program to reach critical mass faster. By the end of next year, about one out of every three hotels in Canada will have from one to five green keys as a rating, with five being the best. With so many hotels participating, and with travelers seeking out Green Key properties, you can bet the other 70 percent of Canada’s hotels will not be far behind in seeking out certification," notes Glenn Hasek, of Green Lodging News.

What does HAC say about the US Green Hotel Programs?

Should the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. run a similar program? Or, continue to push the Energy Star program as it does now? What about all of the other certification organizations—Green Seal, Green Globe, Audubon Green Leaf, the state government agencies, etc.?

If the U.S. lodging industry should ever want to match what is happening in Canada, it has to make some changes. Eventually there should be one nationally recognized and promoted green hotel rating system, even if other programs continue along at the same time. The rating program should be simple, marketable, easy to join, affordable, thorough and creative.

For Canada, taking a program from 400 hotels to 2000 participants in a little more than a year will take leadership and a lot of work.

"I am more than a little envious. It is high time we do something similar here in the United States. Who will lead our effort?" asks Hasek.

SOURCES: Green Lodging News and ...

Green Key Eco-Rating Program

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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