A new "green hotel" classification is being used to evaluate China's hotels and restaurants on their environmental performance.
The China Hotel Association set up the new category in June.
The classification for green hotels or eco-efficient hotels has five grades. The lowest is A and the highest is AAAAA. It provides a benchmark on hotels' environmental performance rather than their facilities and service quality, which the hotel star rating describes, said Zhang Jun, assistant president of the association.
"Environmental concerns among travelers are growing worldwide," said Zhang. "The eco-efficient hotel standard aims to provide hoteliers with a green management system to minimize resource consumption and reduce environmental impact, which may save money while saving the environment."
The classification criteria not only include areas such as energy use, water and waste gas emission, but also cover aspects relating to security or health and safety, such as air quality and prevention of fire and food poisoning, according to Zhang.
The standard may help hotels and restaurants bring down operational costs and improve their public image, said Zhang.
"The implementation of eco-efficient management may cut the energy costs by 5 to 10 percent and reduce water consumption by 10 to 20 percent.
"And consumers can have confidence about safety and security at hotels and restaurants with the eco-efficient logo," said Zhang.
However, the eco-efficient hotel classification may "compete against other certification schemes such as the hotel star standards," said Zhang.
"For example, the star classification stipulates that a middle-level hotel should change the bed sheets every day, even when a guest stays there for several successive days, while the green certification allows a hotel to change the sheets every few days based on the guest's needs, thus saving washing powder and water," said Zhang.
"The evaluation and benchmarking of eco-efficient hotels are under way and the first group of green hotels and restaurants with the eco logo will receive their certification this September," said Zhang.
The hospitality industry saw annual growth of 15 percent last year. By the end of last year, China had more than 3.3 million hotels and restaurants, which boasted a total turnover of more than 600 billion yuan (US$72.6 billion).
(China Daily August 12, 2002)