Our online eco rating exam explained

What difference does an Online Eco Rating Exam make?

In this day and age every time you turn around there is another “eco” lodge popping up. As “ecotourism” is moving more mainstream, more hotels will try to ride on the sustainable bandwagon. In some ways this is wonderful. It’s really good that hotels are wising up and trying to improve their best practices. I applaud that and it’s good for business.

But what about those places that will pretend they are “eco” when really they are doing the minimum. We have even created a word for this problem that is cropping up: “Greenwashing”. It seems clear that we need some way to differentiate between hotels that are committed to sustainability and those that just use if for publicity purposes.

Our online eco rating exam explained

One way to insure that a place really is sustainable is to get certified by someplace like Green Globe, http://greenglobe.com/. They send someone out to do a hands on rating. The only problem with their rating is that it is expensive to have someone travel out to a lodge, etc. and personally evaluate them. Last time I checked it cost the lodges around $1000 (US) to become certified. For many lodges, this keeps them from joining. By definition, it’s the smaller lodges that are more “eco”. Should they be penalized because they can’t afford the fee?

The next best alternative is to have some kind of check and answer system that doesn’t need a hands on visit. I’ve tried to develop just that with the “Online Eco Rating Exam”, http://www.eco-tropicalresorts.com/ecorating/. It’s a way for lodges to respond to a series of questions and come up with a score that shows exactly how “eco” they are based out of a total of 5. In order for a lodge to get a perfect score, they have to have Policies and Procedures as well as a way of monitoring their consumption of water and energy and send it for authentication. The online rating covers energy, water, recycling and waste, community, and land and nature conservation.

There is no charge to members to take the Online Eco Rating Exam and it is a way for them to prove that they are not “greenwashing”. The Exam is always being improved on as new things come to light or as many people express their opinion.

Right now I’m grappling with water issues. Should lodging that is in a wet area of the world be penalized for not using water saving techniques? I’m leaning towards yes because water is a global issue and I see “eco” lodges as ways to open up people’s eyes to conservation in all its aspects. Please feel free to share your opinion by answering here or contacting me directly at lise @ eco-tropicalresorts.com.

In summary, an Online Eco Rating can make a big difference, especially for small establishments. It helps add credibility to hotels.

Water Conservation

I keep having the same discussions with different lodges concerning water conservation. This is one of the 5 areas of my Eco Rating Exam. The 5 areas are Energy, water, recycling, land and conservation, and community.

Water conservation makes a lot of sense because there is a big water problem worldwide.  Wikipedia has an article on it here: Worldwide Water shortage, they claim there is a water scarcity in every continent of the world. The map below shows it:

Water scarcity worlwide

The Eco Rating Exam stresses water conservation. Lodges and Tours in very wet and rainy areas feel that they shouldn’t be held up to the same standards because there is an abundance of water where they are.  I have tried to incorporate some things into the questions of the Eco Ratings Exam.  For example, one of the questions is do you re-use gray water for irrigation?  This makes no sense if you have so much rain water that you don’t even have to irrigate.  I solved this question by adding this as a possible answer: Water is abundant and there is no need to collect gray water. There is another question that lodges do score lower on if they answer no.  That question asks if they record their water usage as part of water conservation.  So far, I have been tackling this question on an individual basis but maybe it’s time for some guidelines.

Our overall goal is promoting ecotourism.  As such, I think eco lodges and tours are in a great position to help educate people and act as the fore front for Global change.  By recording usage and conserving to some extent, even when they don’t have to because of an abundance shows the world that it’s important. As with most things in life, this is a progression.  I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts about this water issue.  the more it is discussed, the more we will move forward towards change.

Here’s a quick way to share your opinion.
Do you think lodges/tours should have to record their water usage if they are located somewhere with abundant water?

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You can contact me via our Contact Form if you have more to share or write a comment on this post. I will get it.