Youth Hostels win first Green Awards
Two youth hostels have become the first UK winners of a top European green award.
The hostels, at Lockton in North Yorkshire and Langdon Beck in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, have been awarded the European Ecolabel by Defra, which runs the green scheme in the UK.
The Ecolabel is a top level European Commission award scheme. Its flower logo can be used on a range of consumer goods across Europe, as well as tourist accommodation and campsites - as long as they meet the strict environmental criteria.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Ian Pearson said: "I am delighted that the first awards in the UK have been won by the Youth Hostels Association, which has always been at the forefront of providing opportunities for everyone to appreciate the outstanding natural environment of our countryside.
"I hope the YHA will be the first of many organisations taking forward this European green award."
To win the award, both hostels had to show that they met the highest modern standards in every aspect of their impacts on the environment - from efficient use of energy and water through to staff training about green issues.
Ewan Boyd, YHA Environment Manager, said: "The Ecolabel Flower Scheme is based on a really rigorous set of environmental criteria. Guests can rest assured that in achieving this award, YHA Langdon Beck and Lockton provide the very highest standards of green tourist accommodation.
"It is fantastic to be the first in the UK to achieve this and represents a key milestone in our development of a network of "Green Beacon" centres as the YHA aims to become a national leader in green tourism."
The green initiative is part of the YHA's programme of renovation to provide modern facilities and environmentally responsible accommodation. The Association plans to make more applications for the Ecolabel over the next two years.
Among the changes introduced at Langdon Beck are:
- 50 per cent cut in total energy consumption.
- 75 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions.
- 50 per cent of all waste is being recycled.
Langdon Beck has led the way in developing renewable energy systems for hostels. European LEADER+ funding, which is administered by Defra, helped the YHA to install two solar hot water systems and a 2.5 kilowatt wind turbine. They have also installed a rain harvesting system to provide water for the toilets at the hostel.
Funding from Defra's Rural Enterprise Scheme helped Lockton to build in unique environmentally responsible features to help minimise the environmental impact of tourists. The environmental benefits at Lockton include:
- 30 per cent reduction in water consumption.
- 40 per cent fall in carbon dioxide emissions.
Other features include showers heated by solar panels on the hostel roof and a system which harvests rainwater. The building is insulated using sheep's wool and a living sedum roof, whose foliage will provide a habitat for local wildlife as well as adding extra insulation.
Lockton village is on the edge of the North York Moors and attracts thousands of visitors each year because of its links to the TV series 'Heartbeat'.
The European Ecolabel for tourist accommodation is designed to help tourism businesses to manage their impacts on the environment in a sustainable way.
Inspections were carried out by the Scotland-based Green Tourism Business Scheme, which works with Defra on the European award.