In a climate filled with turbulence and environmental challenges, the travel industry has a reputation of being at least fairly environmentally friendly.
But for the past few years, there’s been a growing body of evidence that says, in fact, it can be better. One study showed that a trip to Europe is 33 percent greener than a trip to the U.S. Another pointed out that an average European train trip will save you gas (24 percent) and cut carbon emissions in half (20 percent) while another report indicated that the “average stroller uses up 44 percent of a child’s travel allowance,” all while saving you thousands of dollars, and that 80 percent of hotels in Europe are certified “blue” on the United Nations Green Guide.
These are reports I read, but I was a little skeptical of where green certification’s staying: hotels, sure, but not as green as I thought.
So I’m happy to see that Google (owned by the Paris-based holding company GICAP) announced Thursday that it’s logging hotel listings as green certified by the Green Seal, an organization that grades hotel operations according to a wide variety of criteria, from keeping animal products out of rooms to promoting recycling, energy and water conservation and reducing waste.
For those who don’t know, Green Seal measures environmental performance through a myriad of issues. The list is also referred to as “the ultimate checklist for environmentalists.”
Specifically, Google is checking for their Green Seal coverage at hotels across the globe that have implemented the following practices:
The use of only clean, non-toxic cleaning products that do not contain bleach
Environmental impact assessments
Exclusive green rooms with natural lighting, green paints and carpeting, and tree-inspired painting
Innovative innovations in energy and water management systems, including appliances and lighting fixtures, toilets, plumbing fixtures, and mechanical ventilation
Reducing water consumption, recycling and sewage
Both hotels and bookings pages with Green Seal certifications are included in Google Search, so I can more easily see the importance of this information. A Google search for hotels currently yields 46,000 results.
All hotel listings of green certified and green only hotels will now be represented as green and green only when published, but green and non-green hotels will remain different when checked out. (Google search results will show green or non-green hotels in the show on a sliding scale from green to non-green.)
One thing to keep in mind is that Green Seal is not the sole authority on green hotel and travel. While many of the world’s largest travel agencies (i.e. Travelocity, Expedia, Booking.com) integrate Green Seal certification, there are a number of other organizations who certify hotels. The State Department for example, has certification for 19 countries and its State Department Certification Center gives high-quality certifications (of up to certification level 5) for over 1,000 hotels worldwide.