The Green Leaf Eco-Rating Program
The Hotel Association of Canada's Green Leaf Eco-Rating program is a graduated rating system designed to identify hotels committed to improving their bottom line and environmental performance. The program which is targeted at the Canadian hotel industry was officially launched in February, 1998. Since that time there has been a great amount of interest in the program..
The program was established by the Hotel Association of Canada, in conjunction with Terra Choice Environmental Services. Any property whether it provides full or limited service can participate. The eco-rating is determined by a verification made by Terra Choice Environmental Services. An audit checklist is given to the hotels that wish to participate. This checklist covers key aspects of eco-efficiency and touches on everything from guest services to grounds maintenance, to water and energy use, to purchasing policies and practices. The checklist is completed and evaluated, and a rating is awarded accordingly to the hotel being certified. The purpose of this rating system is to recognize the environmental achievements that are established by a hotel being awarded 1 to 5 green leaves; 1 for a minimum of committing to a set of environmental principles, and 2 through 5 for results in applying those principles. The criteria for each level are as follows:
1 leaf: The hotel has identified and initiated measures to improve environmental performance in areas such as energy use, water conservation and waste reduction.
2 leaves: The hotel has moved beyond awareness of sound environmental practice
and achieved real results in reducing environmental impacts of its operations.
3 leaves: The hotel has shown excellent progress in environmental performance in all areas of facility operations and management.
4 leaves: The hotel has shown national industry leadership in terms of environmental performance for both hotel management and facilities.
5 leaves: This designation is reserved for hotels serving as world leaders in environmental performance which continually introduce new policies and practices for others in the industry (Hotel Association of Canada, 1998).
Verification of the results also involves a visit to the property to confirm the reported level of environmental management. This step adds credibility to the eco-rating. When the hotelier receives the eco-Rating certificate, they also receive recommendations for improving the environmental operation of the property. The checklist contains substantial information on seven management areas to help hoteliers operate an environmentally responsible business. The opportunity for a hotel to upgrade their rating can occur at any time. Terra Choice also conducts random spot checks as part of the verification.
There are many advantages for hotels to become Green Leaf Eco-Rated:
- Eco rated hotels can identify cost savings in their operations through improved environmental performance, directly off their bottom line. For example, the Montreal Bonaventure Hilton installed compact fluorescent lamps and energy efficient systems such as dimmers and photoelectric cells, water saving shower heads in all hotels rooms and light sensors in areas such as linen rooms, storage rooms, offices and mechanical rooms. This 393 room hotel reduced their energy bill from $1,400,000 in 1995 to $923,000 in 1996, a total cost savings of $447,000.
- Eco-Rated hotels can gain market shares by providing clients with a credible, third party audit of their facility. Public Works and Government Services Canada will be recognizing Eco-Rated hotels in its 1998 version of the Hotel and Car Rental Directory for government employees travelling on business for the Federal Government.
- Eco-Rated hotels can demonstrate their commitment towards the environment to their respective communities. (Hotel Association of Canada, 1998).
The Green Leaf Program is an excellent program as it increases awareness and encourages hotels to implement environmental practices. The Hotel Association of Canada, along with their major sponsor American Express, will be promoting this Eco-Rating program all over the country. The President of the Hotel Association states that hotels must be convinced that undertaking an environmental program will be cost efficient and that is the main basis of this program. Currently, 250 hotels in Canada have been Eco-Rated and the cost of participating in this program is an annual fee ranging from $250 to $600 depending on the size of the facility.
Green Hotelier Magazine. "RooMers. Insights and Information on the Canadian Hotel Industry. Green Hotelier Magazine. Spring 1998, Volume 9 (1).
Hotel Association of Canada. Green Leaf Eco-Rating Program.1998.
Personal Communication. Interview with Tony Pollard, President of the Hotel Association of Canada. Thursday November 26, 1998.