The history of the GreenStar family business in the tourism industry dates back to the late 60’s. Over the years, dozens of pre-existing restaurants and hotels in Eastern Finland were run and improved. At the beginning of the millennium, GreenStar’s CEO Kristian Ikonen began to outline a completely new hotel concept, and the first GreenStar hotel, the result of the development, was opened in Joensuu in 2008.
In 2011, the hotel was awarded the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. In Kristian Ikonen’s opinion, the brand was the most credible and reliable alternative for tightening environmental work and communicating the company’s values. According to Ikonen, it was clear that as GreenStar expands, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel will also be sought for new destinations. The Jyväskylä Hotel, which was renovated into an office building, was opened in 2018 and the label was awarded in the same year. In the following years, hotels were opened in Lahti and Vaasa, which were awarded the Nordic Swan Ecolabels in 2021.
All GreenStar hotels have been awarded the Nordic Swan Ecolabel based on strict environmental criteria. GreenStar Joensuu was the first Finnish hotel to pilot the current criteria for the Nordic Swan Ecolabel in 2015-2018, while other Finnish Nordic Swan Ecolabelled hotels still used the criteria of the previous generation.
- Joensuu received the Nordic Swan Ecolabel in 2011
- Jyväskylä received the Nordic Swan Ecolabel in 2018
- Lahti received the Nordic Swan Ecolabel in 2021
- Vaasa received the Nordic Swan Ecolabel in 2021
In Finland, only 31 hotels have the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. There are a total of 646 hotels in Finland.
GreenStar has built-in environmental friendliness, which means that eco-activities have already been taken into account during the construction phase. This has allowed the price to be considered affordable when no additional new costs are incurred. On the other hand, the idea is to constantly evolve, so it will never be fully finished.
Nordic Swan Ecolabeled hotel in a nutshell:
- low energy and water consumption
- waste is sorted and reduced
- the restaurants offer plenty of vegetables and organic products
- eco-labeled products are preferred in procurement
- staff are trained in environmental issues
Find out more about the criteria for Swan-labeled hotels here (in Finnish).
Here’s how the above-mentioned is done in GreenStar hotels:
Hotels use either purchased green energy or energy produced by solar panels on hotel roofs. Heating comes through geothermal energy. Efforts have been made to reduce water consumption with Eco-buttons installed in the showers of hotel rooms, which allow customers to reduce water consumption by 20% during the shower.
There are sorting bins for various types of waste in all areas of the hotel, including the hotel rooms.
The hotel’s breakfast offers as much organic and locally sourced produce as possible. For example, coffee and tea are sought to be purchased from local producers where possible and are always organic.
Eco-labeled products have already been used during the construction phase and, for example, hotel carpets are made from recycled materials.
Together with the staff, the company’s environmental work is reviewed regularly from the initial orientation and operations are developed together. In addition, hotel teams have their own environmental managers whose job is not only to promote sustainable operations in and around the hotel, but also to share information within the team.
The Nordic Swan Ecolabel is not only well known, but also quite uncompromising in its criteria. That is important to us. Without ambition, nothing will move forward. On the other hand, the label is also a distinguishing factor. Not everyone meets the criteria above, and not everyone wants to.
Utilizing third-party certified environmental programs to build comprehensive and continually improving environmental impact management and minimization provides a trusted framework for a company to advance sustainability. This Planet act shows how different environmental improvement form a holistic approach and how the results of the work differentiate these hotels from their competitors and how the achievements can be utilized in customer engagement. This act is highly scalable in the hospitality and service industry.