In operation since 1932, YHA New Zealand is the largest backpacker chain in the country, boasting 14 modern YHA-managed hostels and 27 franchise and associate partners. YHA offers high quality hostel accommodation targeting youth travellers from around the globe and delivers over 700,000 annual guest nights.
YHA New Zealand operates with a triple-bottom line commitment, and considers the environment in everything they do. They were already participating in the Carbon Emission Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) but were looking for a way to do more.
Taking the next step to offset their emissions became a no-brainer. Partnered with Enviro-Mark Solutions, YHA New Zealand’s managed hostels became the first accommodation network worldwide to be carboNZeroCertTM certified.
The rigorous measurement process is crucial to understanding your impact. Digging deep into all areas of the organisation yielded not only an accurate record of carbon emissions, but highlighted key areas for improvement.
To maintain a carboNZeroCertTM certification, organisations must meet an annual carbon reduction target of 5%. In 2017, YHA achieved a 7% reduction and continues to invest in solar power installations, water reduction methods, and better lighting infrastructure. As each hostel works through their scheduled refurbishment programme, opportunities are taken to install new and better technology.
Following measurement and reduction, buying carbon credits is simple and surprisingly affordable. Most organisations will not achieve complete carbon neutrality through operational changes, so taking the next step to mitigate the remaining carbon outputs is essential in truly committing to environmental sustainability. YHA has also chosen to support a local provider of credits, Hinewai Reserve, which continues their longstanding belief in rejuvenating native forest and connection with their Banks Peninsula heritage.
The reality is it takes time, commitment and good procedures. Invest in creating those procedures and build them into the organisation. Focus on environmental benefits as well as financial gains - and there are some, especially where power usage is concerned. However, the more important benefits are in employee satisfaction, cost control and simply, good business ethics.
YHA values the carboNZeroCertTM scheme as another tool that helps to build a commitment to environmental sustainability into everything the organisation does. It is not an after-thought, or a ploy to impress customers. Thankfully, it doesn’t cost the earth – but it does help to save it.