Sustainable Travel International

Hostelling International-USA Sustainability Monitoring System And Multi-Site Certification


Sustainable Travel International collaborated with HI-USA on an innovative pilot program designed to inform the organization’s national sustainability strategy while implementing best practices across a number of hostels.

Working with our team, HI-USA developed a new eco-certification and sustainability monitoring system for its hostels. The organization is using this system to collect data across multiple hostels, and has completed a baseline assessment of its performance across key sustainable tourism indicators. Areas reviewed included purchasing practices, guest education, waste and recycling, water consumption, energy use, business travel, and carbon emissions.

This snapshot will be used to prioritize efforts moving forward, including the creation of organizational and property-level resource reduction plans, and the development of internal standards aligned with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC).

The first phase of the pilot was performed at 15 hostels throughout the United States in late 2012. Findings from the pilot included:

  • 15% of all electricity consumed by the certified hostels was generated through renewal energy sources. 
  • 41% of total waste generated by participating hostels was diverted from the landfill. Of that amount, 29% went to recycling and 12% was composted.
  • Internal policies regarding the procurement of socially and environmentally responsible products were found to be highly effective. 81% of all cleaning chemicals purchased were non-toxic, and 79% of all paper purchases contained post-consumer recycled content.

Eight of the participating hostels have achieved Bronze Eco-Certification to the globally-lauded STEP Eco-Certification Standard. The seven remaining hostels plan to apply for eco-certification by 2014.

Project Objectives

  • Support HI-USA’s sustainability objectives: to be a recognized leader in sustainable accommodations and reduce overall carbon footprint
  • Commit to and promote sustainable hostel management at the organization level
  • Develop and encourage the use of next generation assessment and benchmarking tools
  • Provide the tools and resources for hostel managers to understand and implement sustainability best practices
  • Generate a baseline of impacts and performance across a number of key criteria, such as energy and water consumption, waste generation, Greenhouse Gas emissions, responsible purchasing, and philanthropy
  • Education and capacity building for hostel managers, including educational tutorials, online management tools, and advisory services

Project Outcomes

  • Sustainable business operations at hostels throughout the United States, including 15 hostels working toward STEP eco-certification
  • Impact reduction strategies developed based on baseline assessment results
  • Management, staff, volunteers, and hostellers demonstrating increased engagement with community sustainability initiatives
  • HI-USA brand value of sustainability reinforced for travelers, local businesses and industry groups
single project template last updated September 11 2012 20:57:15.

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