What is Green Key?

10 July 2024

Green Key is an internationally recognized ecolabel, awarded to tourism establishments around the world that meet high environmental standards. The comprehensive certification program consists of more than 100 transparent, internationally recognized criteria, regular on-site audits conducted by highly trained Green Key auditors, and third-party verification.
A Green Key represents a business’s promise to its guests that its commitment to the environment goes well beyond words. Tourists can be assured that by choosing a Green Key-certified establishment, they help contribute to a greener and more sustainable world.

The World’s Leading Eco Label for Accommodation

Launched as a national initiative in Denmark in 1994, Green Key has developed into an internationally successful program over the past three decades. The prestigious label is recognized as a leading standard of excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry.

Green Key Certification for Tourism Facilities

The Green Key certificate proves that a business adheres to strict criteria stipulated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), a global non-profit which has managed Green Key since 2002. The focus areas of the program are as follows:

  • Educate: Green Key seeks to inform and involve visitors in the measures being taken by an establishment towards being more environmentally friendly and sustainable, while also ensuring that staff are well informed and trained in these fields.
  • Innovate: Green Key continually searches for new and sustainable methods of operation and technologies, in order to reduce the overall environmental footprint through lower use of energy and water, and less waste. This also helps participating establishments save costs.
  • Add value: Travelers are attracted to establishments with positive environmental credentials, and a Green Key symbolizes this commitment, making such properties more appealing to potential guests.
  • Promote: The prestigious certificate can be used by the establishment to showcase its engagement in environmental and sustainability issues. Best practice stories are also highlighted on Green Key’s digital and social channels.

What are the goals of Green Key?

The official aims of Green Key International are threefold:

  • To increase the use of environmentally friendly and sustainable methods of operation and technology in participating establishments, thereby reducing the use of resources overall.
  • To raise awareness and create behavioral changes – in guests, staff, and suppliers of individual tourism establishments.
  • To increase the use of environmentally friendly and sustainable methods, and to raise awareness, in order to create behavioral change in the hospitality and tourism industry overall.

Who can apply for Green Key certification?

Green Key certification is available to tourism facilities around the world, from small businesses to international chains. More than 5,000 establishments in over 60 countries have currently obtained a Green Key. The program’s hotel chain partners include Accor, IHG Hotels & Resorts, and Radisson Hotel Group.

The following establishments are eligible for Green Key certification:

  • Hotels
  • Hostels
  • Small Accommodations
  • Campsites
  • Holiday Parks
  • Conference Centers
  • Restaurants
  • Attractions

How many Green Key criteria are there?

Over 100 individual criteria are assessed as part of the Green Key certification process. Most of these are mandatory and must be complied with, while others are guideline criteria. Establishments must meet an increasing number of the guideline criteria in order to retain their Green Key certification from year to year.

The 100+ Green Key criteria are divided into the following 13 categories:

  • Staff Involvement
  • Environmental Management
  • Guest Information
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Washing & Cleaning
  • Food & Beverage
  • Waste
  • Administration
  • Indoor Environment
  • Green Areas
  • Green Activities
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

How ADA Cosmetics Supports Hotels’ Green Key Certification

The entire ADA Cosmetics product portfolio is Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Silver – a prestigious product standard requiring continuous improvement, which reflects ADA’s deep commitment to sustainability and circularity throughout the entire value chain.

Green Key International recognizes the comprehensive nature of Cradle to Cradle Silver certification, and awards points accordingly in the Green Key audit.

Any hotel that chooses an ADA Cosmetics amenities line for its bathrooms can therefore be assured that the products will not only enhance the everyday experience of their guests, but also help fulfil the Green Key criteria.

How does Green Key work?

Founded in Denmark in 1994, Green Key has grown over the past three decades from a national initiative to become the world’s leading eco-label for accommodation. More than 5,000 establishments in over 60 countries now display the prestigious Green Key certificate. Each must prove their adherence to high environmental standards which, following the initial application process, are maintained through rigorous documentation and frequent audits.

What are the benefits of Green Key certification?

The internationally recognized Green Key program is defined by quality and transparency. The multiple benefits of participation include:

  • Comparatively low costs, as a not-for-profit program
  • Tailored support from application through to final certification
  • 30 years of experience in tourism ecolabelling
  • One of the most geographically widespread tourism certificates in the world
  • National operators who understand the local context
  • Showcasing an establishment’s engagement in environmental and sustainability issues

How does a Green Key add value to a hotel?

A hotel’s environmental credentials are increasingly important to travelers when searching for a place to stay. Green Key certification symbolizes a clear commitment to the environment and sustainable development, immediately making a property more attractive to potential guests.