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Sustainability News: Google Enhanced its Hotel Search Results by Providing Sustainability Data to Users

Google, a global leader in technology, has announced that it would now include information about hotel sustainability, health, and safety programmes in search results for users. It used to appear on the hotel landing pages in the Google hotel search results starting in 2020, however, it can now appear straight in Google Search.
When a user searches for a hotel, they will see a panel on the right side of the screen that, after scrolling down to Maps and price, will provide all the information about the hotel. Under the “sustainability” section, various sub-sections including Energy efficiency, Water conservation, Waste reduction, and Sustainable sourcing will be visible. All these sections will show the kind of policy the hotel believes in and what kind of measures the hotel takes.
Sustainability is measured by a hotel’s energy efficiency and recycling programs. Programs such as donating, composting leftover food, reusing towels, donating soaps, not using plastic straws etc.

Where does Google Get this Information from?

According to Google, the company gets sustainability information from the hotel itself. Google provides hotel owners with a list of approved certification agencies and curated sustainability practices based on industry best practices. Hotel owners select what is applicable to their property. This self-reported information is displayed on the hotel’s About 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 certification agency. When a hotel is labelled “eco-certified” on Google, it means they have reported earning a certification from an agency that Google has identified as meeting the following standards:
1. The agency must use globally recognized and reputed criteria to evaluate the hotel.
2. The evaluation must focus on environmental impact from at least these 4 categories:
– Energy efficiency
– Water conservation
– Waste reduction
– Sustainable sourcing
3. The agency must conduct an on-site audit to verify the hotel’s sustainability practices or use 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 a number of meanings, Google has defined the terms to provide a context on the sustainability practices information that will be visible on the hotel detail pages. These are as follows:

Energy from Carbon-free sources

Property sources carbon-free electricity through at least one of the following ways:
– On-site clean energy generation
– Power purchase agreement(s) with clean energy generators
– Green power provided by an electricity supplier
– Purchases of Energy Attribute Certificates, such as Renewable Energy Certificates or Guarantees of Origin

Locally Sourced food and beverages

Property sources locally in order to lower the environmental footprint from reduced transportation and to stimulate the local economy. Products produced less than 100 km from the establishment are normally considered locally produced.

Organic cage-free eggs

The property sources 100% certified organic and cage-free eggs, which include shell, liquid, and egg products. Cage-free means hens are able to walk, spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nests.

Eco-friendly Toiletries

Soap, shampoo, lotion, and other toiletries provided for guests have a nationally or internationally recognized sustainability certification, such as USDA Organic, EU Organic, or cruelty-free.

Responsibly sourced food

The property doesn’t 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 source Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Chain of Custody certified seafood.