Google, a global technology leader, has announced that it will now include information about hotel sustainability, health and safety programs in users’ search results. It previously appeared on hotel landing pages in Google Hotel Search results as of 2020, but can now appear directly in Google Search.
When a user searches for a hotel, they will see a panel on the right side of the screen which, after scrolling down to Maps & Prices, will provide all the information about the hotel. In the “sustainability” section, various subsections including energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and sustainable sourcing will be visible. All of these sections will show the type of policy the hotel believes in and the type of measures taken by the hotel.
Sustainability is measured by a hotel’s energy efficiency and recycling programs. Programs such as donating, composting food scraps, reusing towels, donating soaps, not using plastic straws, etc.
Where does Google get this information from?
According to Google, the company obtains sustainability information from the hotel itself. Google provides hotel owners with a list of accredited certification bodies and sustainability practices organized by industry best practices. Hotel owners select what applies to their property. This self-reported information is displayed on the About Hotel page. Google does not independently verify their claims.
How do eco-certifications work?
Eco-certifications are granted to hotels that meet sustainability criteria designated by a third-party certifying agency. When a hotel is labeled “eco-certified” on Google, it means that it has declared that it has obtained certification from an agency that Google has identified as meeting the following standards:
1. The agency must use internationally recognized and reputable criteria to evaluate the hotel.
2. The assessment should focus on the environmental impact of at least these 4 categories:
– Energetic efficiency
– Water conservation
– Waste reduction
– Sustainable supply
3. The agency must conduct an on-site audit to verify the hotel’s sustainability practices or engage an independent third party to do so.
Google does not verify the certification status of each hotel.
Definition of sustainability terms
Because sustainability terms can have multiple meanings, Google has defined the terms to provide context about information about sustainability practices that will be visible on hotel detail pages. These are:
Energy from carbon-free sources
The property sources carbon-free electricity in at least one of the following ways:
– Clean energy production on site
– Power purchase agreement(s) with clean energy producers
– Green energy provided by an electricity supplier
– Purchases of energy attribute certificates, such as renewable energy certificates or guarantees of origin
Local food and drinks
Sources of local ownership to reduce the environmental footprint of reduced transportation and boost the local economy. Products produced within 100 km of the establishment are normally considered locally produced.
Cage-free organic eggs
The facility sources 100% certified organic, cage-free eggs, which include in-shell, liquid, and egg products. Cage-free means the hens can walk, spread their wings and lay their eggs in nests.
Soap, shampoo, lotion and other toiletries provided to guests have a nationally or internationally recognized sustainability certification, such as USDA Organic, EU Organic or cruelty-free.
Responsibly Sourced Foods
The property does not source seafood from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch “avoid” list and must sustainably source seafood listed as “good alternative”, “eco-certified” and ” best choice “. The property has a policy that outlines a commitment to sourcing Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Chain of Custody certified seafood.