FAQs about GreenSign

Useful information about the sustainability certification with GreenSign

Good to know... If you have not yet taken a closer look at the topic of sustainability and are not yet familiar with the GreenSign sustainability seal, our answers to frequently asked questions will help.

General questions about the GreenSign sustainability seal

1. What does "sustainable" mean?

The term “sustainable” means social fairness, ecologically and economically viable at the same time. The origin of the word sustainability goes back to the 17th century, when Chief Captain Hans Carl von Carlowitz spoke for the first time of sustainable forest management. Today's view also includes the regeneration of natural resources.

In terms of the hotel industry, “sustainable” means the least possible environmental impact, fair treatment of employees and the company's economic stability.

2. Why is sustainable business so important for a hotel?

Sustainable economic activity creates structures for minimizing entrepreneurial risks and thus stands for stability and sustainable action. It extends as far as possible across all areas and activities of hotels, whereby sustainability becomes the identity of the hotel. In addition to long-term positioning on the hotel market and securing jobs, sustainable hotel offers and processes have a positive effect on guest satisfaction.

Today, environmental protection and commitment are more in demand than ever, and “green” hotels can strengthen existing guest groups and acquire new guest groups. Suppliers and partnerships can also be improved and expanded. Employees experience appreciation and meaningful employment, which counteracts the fight against the shortage of skilled workers in the hotel industry. When communicated correctly, a positive green image has innumerable advantages.

3. What is GreenSign?

GreenSign is the leading sustainability certificate for the hotel industry in Europe. Almost 100 criteria in the practical certification catalog offer the opportunity to combine ecology, economy and social responsibility without sacrificing comfort for the guests. The certification covers the areas of management and communication, the environment (energy, water, waste), purchasing, regionality and mobility, quality management and sustainable development, social and economic responsibility. Hoteliers can thus pursue their passion for hosting responsibly and with little impact on the environment, and guests experience an authentic holiday with a clear conscience.

4. How did the idea for GreenSign come about?

Suzann Heinemann, founder and managing director of the hotel cooperation GreenLine Hotels, was drawn to sustainability for the first time in 2014, as this topic became increasingly important in society. For the almost 150 members of the cooperation at the time, a sustainability strategy with an associated certificate was to be created, which presented and communicated sustainability in a meaningful and credible manner.

Since no existing sustainability seal did justice to the diversity of the GreenLine Hotels, Suzann Heinemann developed the GreenSign in cooperation with the Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences as an integrated sustainability system across all value chains of the GreenLine Hotels. In 2015, with the establishment of the InfraCert Institute, the GreenSign was made available to all other hotels and is now the German market leader.

5. What advantage do I have if I have my hotel certified with GreenSign?

Certification with GreenSign offers the following advantages:
• Environmental management system as a guideline for structured, green corporate management
• Marketing with a positive green image
• Effective resource conservation and cost savings
• Customer loyalty & acquisition of new target groups
• Raising the awareness of guests, employees, suppliers and partners for sustainability
• Strengthening employee satisfaction and loyalty - reduced fluctuation
• Membership in the GreenCommunity to exchange ideas with sustainable partners
• Opportunity to participate in networking events and joint climate protection campaigns
• Presentation on the No. 1 booking platform for sustainable travel www.greenline-hotels.com
• For conference hotels: Presentation on the sustainable booking platform www.greenconferencehotels.com
• Increased online presence through integration in press releases, newsletters and social media

6. How does the GreenSign sustainability seal differ from other seals?

GreenSign is unique thanks to its transparent five-level system (GreenSign “Level 1” to “Level 5”) for evaluating sustainability performance and takes into account all three dimensions of sustainability equally. Upon completion of the certification, the hotelier receives a certificate for the classification as well as the GreenSign logo and a personalized widget for communication. GreenSign is also audited by independent experts and thus stands for high quality assurance. GreenSign was specially developed for the hotel industry and, unlike other sustainability certificates, offers practical and transparent criteria that are tailored to hotel operations.

In our GreenCommunity we stay in direct contact with the hoteliers even after certification and offer numerous events, a partner network with many advantages and a constant mutual exchange.

7. Why is GreenSign structured in five levels?

The unique five-level concept enables every hotelier to get started with sustainability - individually adapted to the current status. At the same time, GreenSign offers the possibility of further development due to its integrated management system. To increase the level of re-certification, additional sustainable processes must be introduced in the hotel in order to achieve a higher number of points in the certification catalog.

8. Is GreenSign a recognized sustainability system?

GreenSign was developed under the strong influence of science and practice and is characterized in particular by a simply structured and quick test system in the implementation for hotels. When developing GreenSign, the InfraCert Institute adapted industry-independent and therefore very unspecific systems (e.g. EMAS, ISO 14001, ISO 26000), specifically for the hotel industry, and made them more concrete in the form of an online questionnaire for measuring and evaluating sustainability performance.

The criteria are largely GSTC-compliant (Global Sustainable Tourism Council) and thus cover international standards. The required sustainability criteria are checked in a subsequent audit directly in the hotel. In addition, an independent and high-ranking advisory board acts as a control and advisory body for certification.

9. IS GREENSIGN A GERMAN SEAL AND ONLY KNOWN IN GERMANY?

GreenSign was developed in Germany and is managed by InfraCert GmbH in Berlin. With over 240 hotels in 14 countries, GreenSign is also represented outside of Germany, mainly in Europe but also in South Africa. The certification catalog is available in German, English and French.

10. What is the InfraCert Sustainability Advisory Board?

The InfraCert Sustainability Advisory Board includes experts from science, the hotel industry, business and society. The task of the advisory board is to provide impulses for sustainable development in the hotel industry, taking into account ecological, social and economic issues, and to make recommendations for further development. In addition, the advisory board can check the evaluations in the course of the GreenSign award and thus represents an independent and competent control body.

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Questions about the certification process

11. Can every hotel get certified?

Yes, the GreenSign certificate is available for every hotel. Neither the size nor the location of the hotel play a role. By the way: Even hotels that are not yet sustainably positioned can implement and improve environmentally friendly and sustainable corporate management with GreenSign. With the help of the certification catalog, hotels receive a good basis for the future development of sustainability in operation.

12. What is the process of certification with GreenSign?

The certification process icludes the following 4 steps:

  • Submit a certification application
  • Fill out the certification catalog
  • Evaluation of the results by InfraCert
  • Audit & award with GreenSign

Detailed information on the certification process...

13. HOW LONG DOES A CERTIFICATION WITH GREENSIGN TAKE?

The duration of the certification process depends on the hotel's capacity to fill out the questionnaire and how quickly it is then sent back to the InfraCert Institute. Digital processes make this possible quickly and in a resource-saving manner. This is followed by an audit in the hotel; two to three hours should be planned for this. InfraCert usually only needs a few days to evaluate the catalog and draft the audit report, so that the process from application to certification can be completed within a few weeks.

14. WHAT ARE THE COSTS OF A CERTIFICATION WITH GREENSIGN?

The costs for a GreenSign certification depend on the number of rooms in the hotel and consist of the license fee and the audit fee. Let us create an individual offer for you.
To the certification application ...

15. HOW LONG IS A GREENSIGN CERTIFICATION VALID?

The GreenSign certification is valid for three years. During this time, the hotelier has the opportunity to make his business even more sustainable in order to receive a higher GreenSign level during re-certification.

16. ARE SUSTAINABLE EFFORTS CONTROLLED?

Yes, after completing the certification catalog, an independent audit takes place in the hotel, during which the information in the criteria catalog is discussed and checked. This audit can be carried out by InfraCert directly or by an external auditor.

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Zertifikat Uebergabe GreenSign

Implementation of sustainability and further details on GreenSign

17. I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE OUR HOTEL MORE SUSTAINABLE BUT DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START. CAN GREENSIGN HELP ME WITH THIS?

Yes, GreenSign is intended for every hotel that has adopted sustainability and would like to integrate it into daily processes. Hotels that are still at the beginning of their path to sustainability can strive for and implement sustainable development through individual advice and competent support in the certification process.

18. I AM INTERESTED IN SUSTAINABILITY, BUT FOR ME, ORGANIC PRODUCTS AND WOODEN STRAWS ARE TOO EXPENSIVE...

Sustainability doesn't have to be expensive! The first step is to strive for effective resource conservation, i.e. using less water and energy and producing less waste. The saved costs can, if desired, be invested in environmentally friendly products such as food, cleaning agents or cosmetics in the next step.

In the GreenCommunity you will also find many sustainable partners who offer special conditions for GreenSign Hotels. In this way, you can still save a little on sustainable products.

19. WILL MY EMPLOYEES AND GUESTS NOT BE ANNOYED BY ALL THIS “ECO” STUFF?

No, just the opposite! Sustainable commitment and responsibility for one's own actions have rapidly gained in importance in recent years. Employees are also increasingly looking for environmentally friendly and social companies and want meaningful and fair work. The GreenSign seal can therefore help in attracting new, qualified employees and strengthen employee satisfaction. The guests can be inspired by clever storytelling for sustainable travel without sacrificing comfort. A constant communication of the sustainability commitment, without teaching others, can help to improve the image and attract new groups of guests.

20. HOW CAN I COMMUNICATE OUR SUSTAINABLE EFFORTS FOR A GREENSIGN CERTIFICATION WITH OUR GUESTS?

Every hotel certified with GreenSign receives, in addition to the certificate stating the GreenSign level achieved, a bar chart on which the progress in the seven core areas of certification is transparently displayed. The more sustainably the hotel acts in an area, the further the green bar extends in the respective area. This transparency allows guests an open and credible insight into the hotel's sustainability activities.

The GreenSign seal, the barometer, an attractive and honest mission statement and an informative sustainability report can be presented on the hotel's website and on all social media channels. Sustainability should always be communicated positively and not be associated with renunciation.

A CO2 footprint also helps communicate the hotel's resource conservation. GreenSign also offers hoteliers the CO2 footprint and water print in cooperation with Klimapatenshaften and issues a corresponding certificate for this. Additional materials in the hotel, such as the GreenSign “Mach mit sein green” flyer for guests and various Green Lifestyle magazines, which we provide to our certified hotels free of charge, complete the offer.

21. OUR HOTEL HAS ALREADY IMPLEMENTED A CERTIFICATION / ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM / A SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM OR SIMILAR. CAN THE HOTEL ADDITIONALLY BE GREENSIGN CERTIFIED?

Yes, the GreenSign as an additional sustainability system can be combined with existing certifications or programs. In such a case, InfraCert checks in advance to what extent existing programs can be supplemented or taken into account for certification with GreenSign.

22. What is the GREENCOMMUNITY?

The GreenCommunity is a network of all GreenSign certified hotels and companies with a sustainable focus. It represents a platform for sales and marketing activities and serves as an exchange with like-minded people. The GreenCommunity partners are exclusively companies with sustainable products or services that are in demand in the hotel and catering industry.

23. HOW DO I BECOME PART OF THE GREEN COMMUNITY?

Every GreenSign certified hotel automatically becomes part of the GreenCommunity. It has access to the sustainable partner network and can contact interesting suppliers directly. Sustainable suppliers can inquire about the current partner program by contacting InfraCert.

24. FOR OUR HOTEL, THE CO2 FOOTPRINT SHOULD BE CALCULATED IN THE FUTURE. DOES GREENSIGN OFFER THIS?

Certification with GreenSign does not automatically include a calculation or compensation of the CO2 footprint. With our partner Klimapatenschaften, the footprint and the water print can also be carried out. Hotels receive additional points in the certification process if they have or are making a carbon footprint.

Weitere Infos zum CO2-Fußandruck & Anfrageformular...

25. What is GREENSIGN SPA?

GreenSign SPA supports you in implementing your endeavors for sustainable development in the wellness area as well. The GreenSign SPA also has five levels to make further development visible to your wellness guests.

More information about the GreenSign Spa...

26. What is GREEN CLEAN & SAFE?

The Clean & Safe seal was developed by InfraCert at the beginning of 2020 and defines safe and sustainable events. Hygiene and protection are very important, especially in the current times. In order to be able to hold conferences or seminars despite the circumstances, the Clean & Safe Seal helps with the planning and implementation of the event and thus gives its participants and employees confidence and security. The addition Green Clean & Safe is awarded if at least 80% of the newly introduced hygiene measures are carried out in an environmentally friendly manner, for example through the use of reusable everyday masks or biodegradable protective gloves. The Clean & Safe seal is suitable for events with 100 or more participants.

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