The Heritage Environmental Certification Programme is an environmental management system that reflects the nature and style of your own business. The Programme is based on the establishment of a formalised environmental management system which consists of two elements - an administrative system and operational application of formalised procedures to meet the standard. The administrative system is based on a set of documents that address policies and procedures related to aspects such as resource (energy, water and waste) management; awareness and training initiatives; marketing and promotional activities; procurement; biodiversity management (land; air; water; fauna; flora) and other key elements.
The development of the administrative system is preceded by an on-site review during which time our trained assessor gains a better understanding of the property's operational processes and how these influence or affect the environmental performance of the business. This result in the presentation of a management report that provides a review of areas where additional effort could be made to improve overall performance. The assessor evaluates the property on its own merits and while he may provide recommended best practice to improve the existing processes, the management team have the final say as to what they can do.
The assessor also provides the management team with a complete set of draft Documents to assist in getting the EMS system formalised. By using the draft documents in Heritage, management are able to 'pull' the existing systems and procedures together under one document for easier management of that particular aspect.
As an example of this approach is that each Department would have specific procedures for dealing with energy use, but these are often developed in isolation from other departments and this creates opportunities for non-compliance and error. The Heritage system groups all procedures dealing with lighting together, thereby encouraging cross-communication about procedures and raising the awareness levels of all departments under a common policy. Our team provides full on-site training and assistance with this phase of the programme, ensuring that the Business establishes an environmental committee (Green Team) and that they have the necessary skills to continue with the management of their environmental performance.
The operational application phase of this programme involves providing your business with unlimited access to our consulting team for advice and assistance in the application of the Heritage standard and regular reviews of performance to monitor and record continual environmental performance improvements. Consulting services are provided via e-mail; the web and telephonically, unless on-site assistance is required for which a nominal additional fee will be charged.
The Heritage standard is based on several international environmental standards and it follows the ISO14001 structure in many respects. However, because ISO has been found lacking in the hospitality sector, the Heritage standard addresses hospitality and tourism issues with a set of 66 standards and 288 indicators, each designed to ensure more responsible management of specific activities in your daily operations.
The implementation of the standard is made simpler with the provision of a comprehensive interpretation guide that provides your management team with specific information on how to meet the requirements, and of course, our team training services provide the skills levels necessary to ensure that this standard is implemented without difficulty.
Perhaps the most important part of the Management Tool is the fact that our assessors verify and measure performance and compliance against procedures that are set by the business itself. While we will provide and encourage you to implement and manage world-class environmental performance, we recognise that this is often not possible due to local constraints and operational needs. We don't assume that all properties are the same, and our experience with major groups in South Africa has shown that each property performs at its own pace. During each assessment, your buisness will be measured on its ability to apply and conform to its own procedures and operating standard, and based on the assessment process; the property is scored on a percentage compliance basis.
We also assist in measuring the on-going performance of each property through our on-line portal which gathers information on energy, water, waste, recycled content, wastewater, travel, and fuels on a monthly basis and allows the property to monitor and manage its overall carbon footprint. We provide benchmark figures in each class of property to provide a guide against which to measure performance and to assist in the setting of targets and goals.
Because we believe, environmental responsibility is a process and not an exact science, the Heritage Programme recognises environmental performance on three levels of compliance. To be recognised as a member of the programme, your business must meet at least 50% compliance with the prescribed standards. This is almost an automatic status because our experience over the past twelve years has shown that most Businesses already practice and implement most of what is required. This level is recognised by our Silver Certification and represents the fact that the business has recognised it has an impact and is doing something about it.
The next level of recognition is our Gold Certification at which the business is expected to have implemented its full EMS document and administrative system. To achieve this, the business will need to achieve a 75% compliance rating with the prescribed standards and be in a position to reflect and demonstrate sound environmental practice across its operations.
Once the business has achieved our Platinum Certification level, it has scored a minimum 94% performance average and has administrative and operational systems in place that ensure the sustainability of its management systems. At this point, the property will be on par with ISO14001 standard and will demonstrate the highest standard of environmental responsibility possible. After five years at this level, the business will be awarded the Diamond Classification standard in recognition of its ability to maintain its EMS and demonstrate sustainable operations.
Heritage is a member of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Initiative Africa; the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. We benchmark ourselves against internationally recognised programmes regularly and review our standards on annual basis in conjunction with an independent advisory consisting of invited member properties.
International environmental certification programmes often out-price themselves in Africa, and for this reason, Heritage offers a very reasonable alternative to other initiative on the market. Our membership fees are charged on an annual basis. This includes the full EMS documentation system; licence fees; audit costs; internet marketing; promotional activities; newsletters and communication; exhibition representation; magazine listing and membership plaque. The only variables are airfares, accommodation and meals for the audit team (never exceeding two auditors) and ad-hoc additional training or consulting services.
Initial membership requires a two-year commitment during which time you are able to establish you’re working EMS and ensure its relevance to your business model. After the initial period, your contract would renew on an annual basis unless declined, and the South African annual CPI and increases in travel costs would guide increases (where applicable). Essentially, your business will be buying an EMS that can either be independently audited after the initial period or which you could internally manage yourselves without our internationally recognised certification or recognition.
We believe the benefits for your business is to differentiate your business from your competitors and signifies to your markets that you are serious about responsible tourism and environmental sustainability.
Our track record with business groups in Africa provides you and your management teams with a unique and valuable resource designed to enhance and improve your overall sustainability performance and we would be honoured to work with you. Our audits are undertaken every eight months to ensure that continual improvement practices are implemented and managed, and the three-tiered approach to certification created by Heritage encourages even greater performance on an annual basis.
We are confident that the Heritage Environmental certification Programme offers tyour business an invaluable management and marketing tool that will not only improve the way in which you currently do business, but also the way in which you are perceived by an increasingly environmentally sensitive market. With the imminent introduction of the Consumer Protection Act (March 2011), getting ahead of the 'curve' by addressing the issues that make sense to your market places.
The cost for your business becoming a member will be based on the number of rooms. In addition, Heritage also includes a 3 day consultation session for the first year of membership. During this 3 day session Heritagewill assist you in developing your hotel’s own Environmental Management System, inform management on the requirements of it, and educate on direct and indirect environmental impacts.
Apart from the certification itself, the following benefits are also included;
- Initial benchmark review to establish the current performance levels of your business, and to formulate action plans to implement the full Environmental Management System (EMS) system
- A free 3- day consultation session to setup a green team and assist in the development of management systems (during the first year of membership)
- Annual audits of the environmental performance of the business
- One full page listing of your hotel on our website (which receives over 110 000 hits per annum)
- Listing in the Responsible Traveller Magazine (readership of the Print, Electronic, and Cell phone app version isin excess of 20 000)
- Direct link to the hotel page via the electronic version of the Responsible Traveller Magazine
- Potential free publishing of articles in the Responsible Traveller Magazine (at discretion of the editor of the Magazine)
- Assistance by the Heritage Communications department with compiling articles on the hotel’s environmental practices and assistance with distribution to publicity houses (depending on newsworthiness)
- Weekly Eco-Brief Newsletter containing industry and environmental news
- Nakekela information sheet to assist with staff education and awareness on environmental management
- Quarterly “Greener Option” newsletter including articles on best practices from the industry
- CO2 Footprint calculation assistance
- Reduced rates for Workshops and other training initiatives offered by Heritage Training Academy
- Extensive consulting services
- PR and communications support related to your membership and certification initiatives
- Membership plaque
- Membership certificate
- Access to the Heritage website (member section) to download all necessary documents, registers, forms, legislation, bylaws, and much more