LOS ANGELES—The lodging industry has a new player in the certification realm—the nonprofit, Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Environmental Media Assn. (EMA). EMA announced last week that it has launched a Green Seal program for hospitality. EMA has had a Green Seal for TV and film production for years. In addition to expanding to hospitality, they have confirmed they will also be venturing into the fitness and fashion categories soon. More than a thousand TV and film productions have earned the Green Seal. Participating lodging establishments can earn either a Green Seal for Hospitality or Gold Seal for Hospitality through the points-based system.
Paul Sposare, Executive Director of EMA, told Green Lodging News that the hospitality program is a natural progression for EMA. EMA will hold its IMPACT Summit at the Montage Beverly Hills on May 29 to 30, 2019. That LEED Gold Certified hotel, along with the remaining five Montage Hotels & Resorts properties and two Pendry Hotels & Resorts properties, earned the EMA Gold Seal for Hospitality. They are the first lodging establishments to receive the EMA Green Seal.
EMA consulted with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to create the guidelines for the hospitality program. To receive the seal, a hotel/resort must meet a minimum threshold of points that are calculated by their commitment to various environmental efforts. Point categories include, but are not limited to, Staff Engagement, Biodiversity Conservation, Waste Management, Water and Energy Efficiency, Paper Products and Disposables, Chemical and Pollution Reduction and Sustainability. Depending on the number of total points met, a hotel/resort can achieve the EMA Green Seal for Hospitality (115 points) or the EMA Gold Seal for Hospitality (200 points).
Sposare, a hotel industry veteran who has been with EMA for seven months, said EMA made the application process easy and “very checklist.” “It’s hard to have a full-time person on staff focused on sustainability,” he says. “Our goal is to give the property something they can implement with little resources. Some people think you have to do something big and expensive to have an impact.”
Initial Geographic Target: U.S. & Canada
Sposare says the response to the new program has been very good so far. At this point the United States and Canada are being targeted. “I hope we can roll it out to the world,” Sposare says.
Participants are required to pay $5,000 the first year and then $500 per year in following years. They need not be an EMA member. There are no on-site visits and continuous improvement is currently not required from one year to the next. Applicants will be asked to supply some documentation. For example, one requirement is to have an Environmental Impact Committee meeting at least once each quarter. The minutes from those meetings may have to be supplied.
Participants benefit from EMA’s wide social media reach—a reach that Sposare says includes 386 million social media followers if one includes the collective boards that participate in EMA. “We will help by promoting their progress,” Sposare says. “We also offer suggestions.” EMA will eventually produce an e-newsletter dedicated to hospitality. For now, its current e-newsletter will include a hospitality section. Recipients of the EMA Green Seal for Hospitality will participate in the special EMA Green Rate available for guests to book which gives a percentage of their booking back to EMA. Participants also benefit from the custom EMA Green or Gold Seal for Hospitality (digital, sticker and framed certificate) that can be used for various initiatives.
“In today’s world, what we do locally can create a positive impact on a global level,” said Debbie Levin, CEO of EMA, in a press release about the new program. “The EMA Green Seal inspires businesses, from production companies to hotels and resorts, to set an example for change because we all care for our planet, our health and our next generation. Our goal is to have the EMA Green Seal as the global standard for sustainability in many sectors.”