Green Ontario Hotels
by Guylaine Spencer
Fairmont Royal York Hotel Toronto
How do you find truly "green Ontario hotels" when you’re travelling?
“We’re a green hotel.” “We’re environmentally friendly.” These slogans have been popping up in hotel advertising for several years now. But what does that REALLY mean? Can you take a hotel’s word for it?
Or is it just an attempt to lure in environmentally-conscious consumers?
I live in Ontario Canada and often travel within my province on vacation. Ontario is blessed with great tourist attractions – from natural wonders like Niagara Falls to man-made landmarks like the Toronto CN Tower to lesser known but just as beautiful places like the Fifty Point Conservation Area. Recently, I’ve started looking for objective measures I can use to identify the green Ontario hotels found in Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara Falls and other Ontario cities and towns.
One interesting tool I’ve found so far is the Green Key Eco-Rating Program at Green Key Global
This is a program that rates Canadian and American hotels on their adherence to a broad range of environmental practices. Now, not all hotels are included. It’s strictly voluntary. In order for a hotel to be rated, they must apply for consideration, pay an annual fee and fill out a detailed questionnaire containing 140 questions about their practices. Based on their replies, the Green Key program then assigns them a rating from 1-5 green keys.
They ask questions like:
Are guestroom and/or spa amenities biodegradable and derived from natural ingredients?
Are motion sensors and timers installed in Housekeeping closets to ensure that lights are turned off?
When replacing old equipment, is there a policy in place to give energy efficient equipment (e.g. Energy Star / Energuide certified) high priority?
Are all meeting rooms equipped with recycling bins?
What percentage of note pads, napkins, office paper, and other paper products are purchased with a minimum of 30% recycled content?
Are organic wastes separated from the regular waste stream and composted internally or externally?
Is locally grown organic produce promoted and provided as an option to customers?
The Association currently inspects 20% of the green hotels in their roster to see if they are actually doing what they say.
I’m sure the system isn’t foolproof but the nice thing about it is that it does give me a little more confidence in a hotel’s statement that they are a “green hotel”. The fact that they’re willing to pay the annual fee, fill out these detailed and time-consuming questionnaires, and put their green hotel forward for possible inspection by “outsiders” says to me that they are probably pretty serious about their commitment to green living.
Some examples of green Ontario hotels that have Green Key ratings are Pillar and Post in Niagara on the Lake, Fairmount Royal York in Toronto, and Novotel in Ottawa.
Guylaine Spencer is a freelance travel writer and the publisher of Ontario Travel Secrets, an insider’s guide to the major attractions and little-known treasures of Ontario Canada
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