Photo shows a woman wearing sunglasses eating on a rooftop and using her phone. Google has just made it possible to search for hotels by sustainability rating.
It's now possible to seach for hotels and places to stay using Google's sustainability rating system. | Martin-dm/Getty

New on Google: Search Hotels by Sustainability Rating

Google’s new search feature labels certain hotels as “eco-certified” and even tells you about their sustainability practices.

Google just made finding sustainable hotels easy.

The internet search engine has launched a new feature that allows travelers to see a hotel’s sustainability efforts. Now, a Google search for hotels will show whether or not the establishment has been certified as eco-friendly.

Hotels that have been certified will feature an “eco-certified” badge, which means the “hotel was certified as environmentally sustainable by third party groups recognized by Google,” according to the company. Independent groups issuing the certifications include sustainable tourism companies EarthCheck and Green Key.

The hotel’s “About” tab expounds upon its eco-credentials, citing the company’s water conservation, waste reduction, energy efficiency, and sustainable sourcing efforts. For example, the H Hotel in Los Angeles, which carries the “eco-certified” badge, has energy conservation, towel and linen reuse, food waste reduction, and soap donation programs. The eco-certifications also indicate that the hotel offers vegetarian meals and doesn’t use styrofoam containers or single-use plastic straws.

Sustainable tourism

The new search feature is a step in the right direction in regards to minimizing the environmental impacts of the tourism industry. These include depleting natural resources due to over-consumption, pollution, and waste issues, just to name a few.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, carbon emissions from the tourism sector are projected to increase by 25 percent by 2030.

But tourists are increasingly looking to “green” their travels. A global survey released this year by Booking.com found that 83 percent of travelers find sustainable travel to be important. Sixty-one percent of respondents noted their interest in sustainable travel has piqued due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to Google Trends, the term “green hotel” has increased four times its normal search volume since March 2020. 

A number of other websites offer services for finding sustainable hotels, including Ecobnb, World Nomads, and Green Pearls.

Google is looking to take things a step further. The search giant partnered with Travalyst, a non-profit organization that advocates for sustainable travel, to develop a method for calculating carbon emissions from air travel. Once established, travelers would be able to see the environmental impact of their flights.

“These updates are part of our commitment over the next decade to invest in technologies that help our partners and people around the world make sustainable choices,” Richard Holden, Google’s VP of Travel Products, explained.