The story behind Green Key
Green Key is an international and independent eco-labeling system for establishments within the tourism industry. Green Key is controlled by the FEE, an environment education organisation behind other labeling systems such as Blue Flag.
The establishments granted a Green Key certification needs to fulfill internationally defined criteria especially adapted for establishments within the tourism sector. The facilities that obtain a Green Key certification are among other things required toestablish an environmental policy, work with yearly environmental goals for continuous improvement, implement an energy and water saving system as well as work with eco-labeled cleaning products. Additionally, requirements include increasing organic, fair trade and locally produced food. The establishments are also required to regularly educate and inform their staff regarding environmental and sustainability issues as well as the ongoing work with Green Key.
The certification is first and foremost aimed at lowering the establishments direct environmental impact but also focuses on informing and nudging guests and other stakeholders to acknowledge the establishments efforts and ambitions.
Green Key in Denmark
In Denmark there are today over 130 businesses that have earned the Green Key certification. This includes hotels, hostels, conference and course facilities as well as campsites, all with the Green Key criteria adjusted to their own business types.
HORESTA is the business organisation for the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism industry in Denmark with around 2,000 members. They are also the one that manages Green Key Denmark.
Green Key Denmark not only works with the certification program but also aims at raising awareness and spreading information about sustainable tourism to both businesses as well as to the public to create more knowledge and interest within the area.
Who is behind Green Key?
The international steering committee is the board overseeing the system and the body that defines the guidelines, procedures and enacts all criteria. The day-to-day management is carried out by the international coordination, housed in the FEE secretariat in the Danish Outdoor Council.
Regarding Green Key Denmark, a steering committee has been created to act as top authority in Denmark. It consists of the owners HORESTA, DANHOSTEL and The Danish Camping Board, HI (since 2005), The Danish Outdoor Council (organising all outdoor NGOs in Denmark) and VisitDenmark. The Danish EPA participates in an observer role with influence on procedures and criteria, but entirely without authority on the awarding of the individual Green Key label.
This composition of the group provides competent professional input to the development of the environment label and ensures autonomy from business interests. It is the steering committee that, among other things, determines, develops and controls the system’s underlying criteria. It is in charge of final approval of the businesses, which is done through an electronic approval procedure or over the course of two to three meetings held every year.