The 15 sustainability criteria are displayed as green leaves in the overview and detail pages of every accommodation.
bookitgreen has developed 15 criteria that we use to evaluate sustainability for every accommodation listed on our platform. Each accommodation’s fulfillment of these criteria is indicated by the host – the system works on the basis of trust. Guests can confirm the accommodation’s sustainability by submitting a sustainability score on bookitgreen after their stay.
If an accommodation meets four sustainability criteria, it receives one green leaf; if it meets 12 or more criteria, we give it the maximum score of five green leaves.
In addition to using local energy suppliers, some properties can generate renewable electricity and heat themselves. The possibilities for private renewable electricity and heat generation range from solar and photovoltaic systems to the use of wind power and biomass to heat exchangers and wood-based heating systems operated with pellets. As well as reducing dependency on energy suppliers and cutting costs, these renewable sources of energy are particularly sustainable, resulting in yearly savings of several tons of CO2 per household.
Every accommodation that generates heat or electricity from renewable sources meets this sustainability criterion.
Did you know that buildings use and dispose of 60% of all waste, 50% of non-biodegradable resources, and over 40% of global energy production? There is immense savings potential in this area. Passive houses, for example, can reduce a heating system’s energy consumption by up to 90% when compared to a conventional building or 75% when compared to an average new building. Beyond the financial savings, the average yearly CO2 emissions of a passive house are 4,000 kgs below those of a conventional house.
Every accommodation built or renovated according to these best practices meets this criterion.
Sustainable holidays begin with a choice mode of transportation. It is important to offer accommodation that is optimally connected to long-distance and local public transportation options. Calculations by the German Transport Club (Berechnungen des Verkehrsclubs Deutschland) show that a train journey between Berlin and Frankfurt emits 73% less CO2 when compared to the same journey by car, and as much as 80% less CO2 if the journey is made by bus. Switching to buses and trains also significantly reduces the number of vehicles on the roads (especially during the holiday season), which reduces the amount of congestion and stop-and-go traffic, both of which are fuel-intensive.
Every accommodation that can be reached by public transport fulfills this sustainability criterion. If the accommodation is not easily accessible by public transport, a pick-up service to and from the nearest train station or bus stop can be offered to meet this criterion.
Using ecological cleaning products protects the planet and saves money. In 2008, roughly 480,000 tonnes of cleaning and maintenance products were sold, 260,000 tonnes of which were dish-washing detergents alone. These products contain chemicals that are released into the wastewater and thus contaminate the environment. Detergents and other cleaning products can also impair human health, as they may contain allergenic substances and preservatives. Refraining from using unnecessary cleaning products, fragrance and room sprays, as well as corrosive or chlorine-containing cleaning agents, is therefore urgently recommended. One alternative is to look for ecological cleaning products with a Blauen Engel certification, which indicates the use of renewable raw materials and a focus on the avoidance of packaging waste. Another alternative is to make your own cleaning products with basic ingredients, such as baking powder and white vinegar. For tips on safe and eco cleaning follow this link.
Every accommodation that uses exclusively ecological cleaning products meets this criterion.
Saving electricity makes sense financially as well as environmentally. The EU Energy Label has created uniform standards that provide a simple overview of energy consumption. Switching from energy class C devices to class A devices, for example, can reduce power consumption by as much as 40%. Switching to class A+++ devices can result in up to 75% savings, particularly when it comes to appliances that consume high amounts of electricity, such as refrigerators. Although the initial acquisition cost is higher, these energy-saving devices pay for themselves in the long term. Energy saving translates into better environmental performance, with less pressure put on energy grids. Reduced energy production in turn reduces the carbon emissions of energy production and consumption.
Any accommodation that uses exclusively energy efficient household appliances (class A or better) meets this sustainability criterion.
The term “green electricity” can be used to describe all forms of electricity that come from environmentally friendly renewable energy sources (water, wind, sun, biomass, etc.), rather than electricity produced by nuclear energy or fossil fuels. In 2016, the use of renewable energy in Germany (around 30% of total energy production), saved 159 million tonnes of CO2 (Federal Environment Agency). Overall, the amount of CO2 emissions saved has more than tripled between 2000 and 2016. In terms of sustainable tourism, using green energy contributes to a significantly more sustainable accommodation. For this reason, we recommend that both hosts and guests switch to green electricity providers. Our comparison calculator for Germany makes switching to the right provider easy. We also have a guide to green energy procurement in Spain and one for Italy.
Every accommodation that sources 100% green electricity meets this sustainability criterion.
Recycling saves energy, money (incineration is expensive!), creates jobs, and uses flexible and dynamic technologies (more about that here). Waste management is also key for transitioning to a low-carbon economy. In line with the relevance of this issue, European Parliament members voted in March 2017 to reach a recycling rate target of 70% in the EU by 2030. For packaging materials, including paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, metal and wood, MEPs proposed an 80% target for 2030, with interim 2025 targets for each material. At bookitgreen we believe that an 80% recycling rate for accommodations is realistic and reasonable, as German municipal waste, for example, is already 65% recycled (for recycling rates of municipalities in the EU follow this link).
Every accommodation that recycles 80% of the garbage generated meets this sustainability criterion. In addition to separating their own waste, guests should be able to separate waste – e.g. have access to a waste bin with a separation system – which considerably simplifies recycling.
In 2011, the Süddeutsche Zeitung published alarming figures, showing that around 250 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year worldwide, a third of which is used for packaging and disposable items. In 2015, packaging still accounted for 35.2% of processed plastics. This kind of waste can easily be reduced with a little planning. Waste avoidance starts with consumption patterns: consciously avoid disposable items and products that are unnecessarily packaged. Avoiding disposable containers, like plastic bags, and purchasing durable, high-quality appliances, minimizes both resource waste and new acquisition costs.
Every accommodation that consciously avoids the accumulation of waste meets this sustainability criterion.
The average four-person household consumes 180,000 liters of water per year. Most of that consumption is drinking water, 70% of which consists of spring and groundwater. Although drinking-quality water is necessary in some cases (like personal hygiene and cooking), there are many cases in which drinking water can be safely substituted with treated rainwater – like garden irrigation and toilet flushing. Rainwater can be used for laundry as well (read about safely supplying your washing machine). As rainwater is considerably softer than drinking water, its use is particularly suitable for areas where drinking water has a high degree of hardness. Using soft water to do laundry eliminates the need for fabric softeners and saves up to 20% of detergent. Excess rainwater can be drained from the tank directly into the ground, seeping into the groundwater and relieving sewage systems.
Every accommodation that processes and recycles rainwater meets this sustainability criterion.
The average tap flows at a rate of 16-20 liters of drinking water per minute. Faucet or tap aerators can reduce the flow rate by 30-50% as air is added to the water, making the water jet softer and more pleasant. The acquisition cost is around €10 and installation requires no expertise. The use of single-lever mixing valves, which regulate the ratio of warm and cold water, can also save up to 30% of drinking water. Water savings are even more significant for efficient shower heads, which can reduce flow rates from approximately 25 liters per minute to 6 liters per minute, according to the “friends of the earth germany”. Flow limiters in standard shower heads can still achieve up to 50% water savings and produce a significantly softer water jet.
All accommodations that use mainly water-saving taps and/or shower heads meet this sustainability criterion.
Depending on the variety, organic fruit can contain up to 69% more antioxidants than conventional fruit, which adds up to almost two additional portions of fruit per day when you change your diet to an organic equivalent. In addition, organically produced foodstuffs are less contaminated with pollutants such as nitrites, cadmium, and pesticides. Due to the superior nutrition of organically-fed dairy cows, organic milk also has a higher content of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The European Parliament’s scientific research department has recently addressed the impact of organic food and farming on human health – you can see the findings of the report here.
Every accommodation that uses mainly organic food products meets this sustainability criterion. Accommodation that does not provide meals can fulfill this criterion by offering organic coffee or tea in rooms or apartments. If the majority of the food is organic and regional, both sustainability criteria are met.
The purchase of regional food products avoids unnecessarily long transport routes, in turn reducing carbon emissions. For instance, a truck releases 135 grams of CO2/kilometer per tonne transported. In Germany, tools such as Regionalfenster or overviews of regional initiatives such as REGIOportal help you find producers and products from your region. A glance at the seasonal calendar can also also help you avoid unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions by buying foodstuffs only in season. Fruits and vegetables grown in heated greenhouses or foil tunnels release up to 30 times more greenhouse gases per kilogram than their equivalents grown outdoors. Purchasing directly from the producer also builds trust between producer and consumer. The purchase of regional products strengthens identity within the region and secures regional jobs and training.
Every accommodation that uses mainly regional food products fulfills this sustainability criterion. If the food products used are mostly organic and regional, both sustainability criteria are met.
Although energy-saving and modern LED lamps are more expensive to purchase than incandescent lamps, they last much longer than their conventional counterparts which offsets their price and results in less waste. In addition, energy-saving lamps – as the name suggests – consume significantly less energy than conventional incandescent lamps, which in turn reduces CO2 emissions and additional costs. Adding together the lamp’s longer life span and the energy savings can result in financial savings of up to 75%, even with higher costs factored into the equation (as the Stiftung Warentest has proven).
Any accommodation that uses exclusively energy-saving lighting – ideally modern LED lamps – meets this sustainability criterion.
Do you change towels at home every day? Probably not, so is it really necessary to use a new towel every day of your holiday? An energy-saving washing machine consumes about 50 liters of water (usually drinking water) per every washing cycle, not to mention electricity and detergent. A reduction in the washing intervals for towels therefore reduces consumption (and also costs) in these three areas. Lower energy consumption naturally reduces CO2 emissions, and washing towels less often extends their life as they wear out more slowly, also resulting in less consumption and waste and consequent CO2 emissions. The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates that washing towels by request only can decrease the volume of laundry – as well as the related water, sewer, energy, and labor costs — by 17%.
Any accommodation that only exchanges towels upon request meets this criterion.
Water-saving toilets can save over half the water required for a flushing a conventional toilet. By significantly reducing water consumption, they also save you money. A sample calculation of the DCTI shows that by using a water-saving toilet flushing system, a four-person household can easily save between 103 and 234 euros per year, calculated based on an average of 60% less water consumption. A choice of smaller and larger switches or a start/stop button further reduce water consumption.
Every accommodation that uses water-saving toilets meets this sustainability criterion. Accommodations with older flushes can still meet this criterion if they retrofit their toilets with a toilet stop, a simple addition that ensures the flushing process is interrupted as soon as the flush button is released.
Next time you travel, bookitgreen!