Green Key and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #7

Green Key is a leading standard of excellence in the field of sustainable tourism, guiding tourism establishments to do their part in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN. In our new feature series we will present each of the 17 SDGs and explain their connection to Green Key. 

In 2015, the UN member states adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to guide governments, the private sector and civil society in transforming our world into safer, fairer and more livable place.   

Sustainability lies at the heart of Green Key, which is why the programme inherently contributes to all of the 17 goals. Today, we talk about Goal 7: "Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all".

The tourism and hospitality industry is an energy-intensive sector, requiring electricity for its facilities and the provision of tourism-related services such as accommodation, catering and tourism experiences. According to UNEP and UNWTO, tourism is responsible of about 5% of global CO2 emissions. The accommodation sector alone accounts for approximately 20% of emissions from tourism.*

How does Green Key help to achieve Goal 7?

Green Key has a whole category of criteria dealing with energy, encompassing over 20 requirements and guidelines. The criteria help tourism establishment to both monitor and reduce their energy consumption (see category 7 in our criteria documents). 

  • Using energy-efficient light bulbs (criterion 7.3) and devices (criterion 7.8, 7.13 , 7.17 and 7.27) is an integral part of the Green Key programme.
  • Awarded establishments have to reduce their energy consumption by applying smart energy management systems and solutions such as:
    • Adjusting the heating and air-conditioning control systems according to seasonal changes or when the establishment’s facilities are not in use (criterion 7.2)
    • Having a written procedure regarding electric devices in empty bedrooms (criterion 7.9)
    • Defining a standard temperature for cooling and heating in guest rooms (criterion 7.10)
    • Minimising lighting with motion detectors, automatic switch-offs or daylight sensors (criterion 7.11, 7.19 and 7.20)
    • Having the key-card system or another systems that switches off electricity when guests leave the room (criterion 7.19)
    • Air-conditioning and heating automatically switching off when windows are opened (criterion 7.22)
    • Implementing a heat recovery system (criterion 7.23)
  • Properly maintaining and cleaning electric devices to reduce their energy consumption, such as ventilation systems (criterion 7.5 & 7.6), fat filters (criterion 7.4) and draught excluders (criterion 7. 7)
  • Monitoring the energy consumption by registering the monthly energy figures (criterion 7.1.), installing separate electricity metres in the establishment (criterion 7.21) and having an energy audit carried out every 5 years (criterion 7.14) 
  • Insulating the buildings (criterion 7.24), windows (criterion 7.12) and hot water pipes (criterion 7.25) to prevent the loss of energy
  • Promoting the use of eco-certified or renewable energies (criterion 7.16)
  • Informing guests about energy saving initiatives of the establishment and encouraging them to reduce their energy consumption during their stay (criterion 3.4 & 3.7)
  • To help tourism establishments to measure their carbon footprint, Green Key is offering a free calculation tool on its website

A document describing Green Key’s overall contribution to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals can be downloaded here.

*“Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges”, UNEP and UNWTO, 2007