Industry NewsGreenlighting Sustainability: AHLA Partners With Hotel Association of Canada to Operate Green...

Greenlighting Sustainability: AHLA Partners With Hotel Association of Canada to Operate Green Key Global

The most important step a company can take on its journey toward sustainability is the first one. Setting sustainability as a goal is a great place to start and makes sense for hotels, as a growing number of guests are seeking sustainable accommodations and becoming more environmentally friendly can save hoteliers money.

Hotels face several key questions when deciding how to implement sustainability goals. How exactly should a hotel “go green”? What are the costs and benefits? And who can they trust to validate their sustainability efforts?

AHLA is helping hoteliers answer these important questions as part of its new partnership with the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) to operate the Green Key Global sustainability certification program in the United States and Canada. This partnership will give hotel operators the tools they need to map out a sustainability plan, get those efforts certified by a trusted sustainability leader, and give potential guests the information they need to make the right lodging choices.

AHLA has been focusing on sustainability for years. In 2017, it teamed with the World Wildlife Fund to launch the Hotel Kitchen initiative, which is aimed at reducing food waste. In 2022, AHLA announced the Responsible Stay program, which unites the hotel industry around four key principles: optimizing energy efficiency, conserving water, reducing waste, and sourcing responsibly. Dozens of hotel companies and state hospitality associations have joined us in this effort.

We didn’t stop there. In 2023, AHLA partnered with IncentiFind, a leading green building incentive database, to help hoteliers identify which of the hundreds of thousands of incentives they can use to meet the growing demand for sustainable practices and reduce their bottom-line costs. Those incentives include nearly $70 billion in tax credits, grants, fee waivers, rebates, and bill credits, and our partnership gives AHLA members easy access to IncentiFind resources on how to take advantage of these benefits.

This year, AHLA launched the Dignity of Work Pledge with Procure Impact to provide a range of responsible sourcing options to AHLA members.

Green Key Global is designed to take the industry’s sustainability efforts to the next level. Many of the biggest names in our industry are already Green Key Global participants, and the program’s momentum is growing. Here’s why some of North America’s top hotel companies are lining up to join this important initiative:

  • Customers are demanding sustainable lodging choices. Travelers, meeting planners, and corporate travel managers are increasingly factoring sustainability into their lodging decisions. According to, 80 percent of hotel guests say traveling more sustainably is important, and nearly two thirds of travelers would feel better staying at a property with a sustainable certification.
  • Green Key Global was specifically designed to assess hotel sustainability. HAC established Green Key Global in 1994, and the program is the only environmental certification system in North America that is focused on hotel operations. Hotels complete a rigorous assessment and audit to measure their performance in areas such as energy and water conservation, land use, hazardous and solid waste management, air quality, and more.
  • Guests can trust Green Key Global. Green Key Global certification focuses on the operations of a hotel property and covers all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Green Key Global eco-ratings give sustainability-minded consumers the power to make informed lodging choices, while providing hotels with important third-party validation for their sustainability efforts.
  • Green Key Global gives hotels a path for continued improvement. Certification does more than provide a trusted third-party seal of approval of a hotel’s sustainability initiatives; it empowers hoteliers to create an ongoing sustainability improvement plan. Tools and resources are also provided for employee onboarding, customer engagement, and supply chain optimization.

This is a critical time for our industry and our planet. AHLA is proud to operate Green Key Global with HAC to give hoteliers the tools they need to implement our industry’s shared commitment to sustainability.

Kevin Carey
Kevin Carey
Kevin Carey is interim president & CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.