Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Green Key ecolabel?
The Green Key ecolabel is a standard of excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry. Green Key has been awarded to 2600 establishments in 56 countries making it one of the largest international tourism ecolabels for tourism accommodation. Establishments with the Green Key award can be recognised by having this logo:
What does the Green Key ecolabel mean?
The Green Key ecolabel means that awarded establishments adhere to strict criteria as stipulated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). These criteria ensure that sustainability is integrated at a very high level in the management and operation of the awarded tourism establishment. The Green Key ecolabel also ensures verification of the sustainability performance by means of a third-party entity to prevent so-called green washing. All awarded establishments receive frequent on-site audits and have to renew their award every year.
How is the Green Key ecolabel monitored?
Establishments with a Green Key certification are closely monitored to ensure that the awarded establishments are adhering to the label’s strict sustainability standards. In addition, the establishments are required to continually improve their performance in line with the Green Key criteria. Prior to being awarded for the first time, an on-site audit of the applicant establishment is carried out. This audit is then conducted again in year two, and thereafter every third year. In years with no on-site audits, the decision to award is based on an evaluation of certain documents. In some countries, the audit process may even be stricter, but it will never be less stringent.
What are the benefits of joining Green Key?
By deciding to join Green Key, your business commits to operating in a more sustainable and efficient way. Green Key gives you advice on how to monitor and reduce the consumption of resources and helps you to motivate your staff as well as your guests to act more responsibly. In the end, saving resources means saving money!
You would be surprised by just how many best practices are out there that reduce the environmental impact of your establishment without compromising the quality of the guest experience. With over 20 years of experience, Green Key has an extensive knowledge base of best practice which is shared within the network of awarded establishments.
Green Key also increases the visibility of its awarded sites. Once awarded, your establishment will be displayed on our Green Key map. We also cooperate with several Online Travel Agencies that will add your Green Key award to your listing on their website (providing that your establishment is already included in the portfolio of the Online Travel Agency). We are also happy to promote your establishment by publishing your best practice stories in our news features on our website and social media.
More and more consumers expect that the products and services they choose are environmentally friendly and socially responsible. The Green Key ecolabel is considered a trustworthy symbol for consumers that your establishment meets their expectations
Why Green Key?
- In the majority of countries, Green Key is managed by nonprofit organisations, which means that the costs for the certification are relatively low compared to other international tourism ecolabels.
- Our vast network of national operators also ensure that the national context and legislation are taken into account.
- In most countries with national operators you can send your application and communicate with Green Key in your own language.
- With over 2,600 awarded sites in 56 countries, Green Key has an international reputation which can be more easily recognised by your costumers than other ecolabels.
- Green Key is recognised by the World Tourism Organization and the United Nations Development Programme.
- Green Key is a trustworthy and transparent ecolabel ensuring that all awarded sites receive regular on-site audits and are third-party verified.
Who can apply for a Green Key ecolabel?
All hotels, hostels, small accommodations, campsites, holiday parks, conference centres, restaurants and tourist attractions worldwide can apply for the Green Key ecolabel. By using our self-assessment form, you can make a rough assessment of how ready your establishment is to apply for the Green Key award. As this form is only a rough guide, you should always contact your National Operator for a complete list of the criteria you will need to meet in order to apply for a Green Key award.
How does the certification process work?
In order to be awarded, a Green Key applicant has to go through an application process consisting of four parts:
- Sending the application documents
- Receiving the on-site audit
- Third-party decision about the award
- Annual renewal of the award
A more detailed description of how the application process works can be found here. The Green Key award is valid for 12 months and must consequently be renewed annually.
Who should I send my application to?
The application should be sent to the Green Key National Operator in your own country. A complete list of National Operators can be found here. If there is no National Operator in your country, please contact Green Key International.
What are the Green Key criteria?
The Green Key ecolabel is built around a set of highly advanced environmental criteria focusing on 13 different categories.
These criteria have been developed for six categories of tourism establishments which are publicity available: hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, small accommodations, conference centres, attractions and restaurants.
How long does it take to be Green Key certified?
The duration of the application process varies from establishment to establishment, depending on the existing levels of sustainability. The completion of the application form, schedule for the on-site audit and follow-up, as well as the third-party decision process, are all factors that have an impact on the length of the application process. Some countries also have fixed application deadlines which must be observed when applying to become a Green Key establishment.
What does it cost to get certified?
The fee for the Green Key ecolabel depends on the country and the size and type of your establishment. For an exact quote for your establishment, please contact your National Operator, or, for countries without National Operator, Green Key International. As Green Key is in the majority of countries run by non-for-profit organisations, the costs for the certification are relatively low compared to other international tourism ecolabels.
Who is the entity behind Green Key?
Green Key is managed internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). FEE is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation promoting sustainable development through environmental education. In addition to Green Key, FEE is active through four other environmental education programmes: Blue Flag, Eco-Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) and Learning about Forests (LEAF). Today, FEE member organisations are administering the Green Key programme in more than 40 countries worldwide.
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