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 2,700 establishments in 56 countries making it one of the largest international tourism ecolabels for 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 kind of tourism establishments does Green Key award?
Green Key awards hotels, hostels, small accommodations, campsites, holiday parks, conference centres, restaurants and tourist attractions worldwide. You can find a map with all awarded Green Key establishments here.
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.
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.
Are Green Key awarded establishments more expensive?
Green Key awards tourism establishments in all price ranges, from bunk-bed hostels to five star luxury hotels. Green Key has agreements with a number of online travel agency partners that indicate which of the offered establishments are Green Key certified.
Does an ecolabel affect the comfort during my stay in a tourist accommodation?
Staying in a Green Key awarded tourist accommodation does not mean that you have to compromise on comfort or luxury. Many of the processes that make a tourism establishment more sustainable go on behind the scenes, which means that by opting to stay in a Green Key awarded accommodation, you might very well be supporting an environmentally-responsible business without even noticing it. Innovative developments in technology contribute to maintaining comfort while saving resources, such as water-saving shower heads that maintain water pressure high, or dimmable LED light bulbs that keep the atmosphere cosy. In fact, choosing a tourism establishment with an ecolabel can increase the quality of your stay, with the awarded establishments offering products to their guests that are ecolabelled, locally sourced or from fair-trade suppliers (e.g. food and beverages, personal hygiene products etc.).
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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