Even if you have gone green at home and in your office, traveling is a different story. Usually, hotel rates and location are prime factors in determining where to stay, but now green-minded folks have options. During a recent stay at the Fairmont Royal York in downtown Toronto, I noticed a simple but logical addition to my room: a recycling bin. It was located conveniently next to the wastebasket. When I returned from my trip, I did some research, and realized that the Fairmont was rated a 4 in the Green Key Eco-Rating Program.
The programThe Green Key Eco-Rating Program rates hotels with a thorough environmental audit. Audit questions include a wide range of issues, including employee training, maintenance and engineering, foodservice practices, housekeeping practices and corporate environmental management. The audit has about 150 questions, and Green Key has assigned weighted values to the questions based on their social and environmental impacts. The values are then converted to a percentage, which correlates to the ratings. Hotels are given a 1-5 rating — 5 means the hotel scored above 80%, 4 means it scored between 60 and 79%, 3 is between 40 and 59%, 2 is between 20 and 39%, and a 1 is below 20%. About 20% of the hotels are visited for an on-site inspection. Some questions include:
- Does your facility have a formal (written) set of environmental policies in place?
- Are untouched food items collected and donated to food banks and other charitable organizations on a regular basis?
- Is there a formal procedure in place to deal with environmental complaints?
- Are unused toilet paper rolls collected for reuse in staff washrooms?
- Are guestrooms and/or spa amenities biodegradable and derived from natural ingredients?
- Are all meeting rooms equipped with recycling bins?
- Are waste scraps diverted from the regular waste stream and composted?
- Are cooking grease/oils separated and disposed of/recycled as special waste?
- Is locally grown organic produce promoted and provided as an option to customers?
- Does the facility purchase certified “green energy” to supply at least a portion of its energy needs?