Your Questions Answered
We often get asked about the Programme, our systems and the benefits associated with certification, so why not look through the following frequently asked questions to find answers to the main issues.
How are claims of environmental performance monitored?
Every claim made by a member property is evaluated and investigated during the annual on-site audits conducted by Heritage. Where a claim is made that cannot be measured or verified, the member is required to remove such claim or reference, or to meet the claim in full. This prevents 'greenwashing' and ensures clients are provided with an accurate and honest view of the business.
What does the audit report include?
After each and every audit, the auditor produces a comprehensive Assessment Report that details any areas in which the business fails to comply with the standard; the degree of non-compliance and suggestions for improvement. The findings will include for example areas of weakness or potential risk, observations made during the review and suggestions for improvement and enhancements. We recognise that not every business will be 'best in class' in every respect, and that many have their particular strengths, but our approach is to provide an environment in which continual improvement is practiced and applied, so the assessment report reflects ways in which to improve.
How often does a member get evaluated?
Each member of the Heritage Programme is independently audited or evaluated at least every eight to twelve months. This entails an on-site review by one of our qualified auditors and performance is evaluated against the Heritage standard and previous performance reports. It is important to recognise that depending on the performance of the business - and the findings of the auditor, the status of a member can be revised annually.
What are the criteria to achieve Silver, Gold or Platinum Certification?
The criteria against which a member is measured are essentially the same in all three cases, but the level of Certification is dependent upon the degree to which the business meets the criteria and complies with international best practice in specific fields. For example, the Silver Class level recognises businesses that have accepted they have an environmental impact and are doing something about it. Their efforts may be disjointed and uncoordinated, but they are able to demonstrate their intent to manage the situation.
Progressing from this, Gold Class properties have an established EMS which is compliant to the Heritage system, and they are actively managing their operations in accordance with globally recognised systems. At Platinum Class, the business meets all the Heritage criteria; can demonstrate full compliance with their EMS and has clearly met international best-practice in a range of fields.
How does the weighting system work?
As is true with most things, there are many ways to do a particular activity and some people tend to do just what is needed while others tend to excel and go beyond the 'basic'. The Heritage weighted scoring system is designed to achieve two things. Firstly, it recognises the importance of a particular importance to the overall environmental performance of a business and secondly, it reflects the effort that has been put into exceeding the basic level of performance. In this way, the business is rewarded for emphasising the important elements of their EMS while also being recognised for the effort they have made to apply best-practice.
How can the Heritage system recognise different national priorities while still remaining competitive?
It is precisely because the system is adaptable and able to incorporate local conditions, that Heritage has been so successful. The principles of environmental stewardship and sustainable business are global and the Heritage programme is based on these while allowing site-specific changes to certain elements. National laws, environmental regulations and local conditions can all be accommodated in the basic system, ensuring that the application reflects local conditions and remains legally compliant with relevant national laws.
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Is Heritage internationally relevant and recognised?
Heritage is a fully-fledged EMS, based on the ISO14001 system and compliant with a range of ISO systems and models. It has incorporated the best in global environmental management techniques, standards and systems and offers a very effective EMS solution to any service-based organisation. It has particular relevance in the hotel and tourism, retail, commercial and other service industries. Heritage is the most successful programme in Africa and is gradually being seen as a globally competitive and relevant benchmark of environmental responsibility certification by its peers.
What is the Heritage Standard and how can I get a copy of the criteria?
The Heritage Standard is a set of criteria developed specifically by Heritage, to address various operational aspects of a business in relation to its environmental performance. The Standard consists of 73 different requirements in aspects ranging from procurement to resource use, communications, marketing, human resource development, community involvement and even design. Each Standard has up to five sub-elements or 'indicators' that further interrogate the element being assessed, and this ensures the stability and appropriateness of the standards themselves.
To get a copy of the Standard, you would need to join the Programme. This ensures that the Standard is seen in the context of the overall programme, and that you get the best advice and training on what is required to be truly compliant. Unlike other schemes - and because we offer a range of certification schemes, Heritage does not publish any specific standard at this time although you can find a outline of the basic Heritage standard here. For more specifc information or standards, use our contact form and we will gladly discuss the relevant standard for your business.
What makes Heritage different from other certification labels?
Heritage is first and foremost an Environmental Management System, designed in accordance with ISO14001 and other internationally respected and recognised standards. While many of our competitors claim to offer the same, we can confidently state that Heritage stands unique in this field.
Complimentary to our EMS, Heritage offers an environmental certification system - a means by which to measure, recognise and promote environmentally responsible businesses. All of our competitors are certification systems, some using elaborate and convoluted standards and processes, while others simply offer simple self-audit systems and 'tick-and-flick' evaluation processes.
Heritage also undertakes on-site, professional evaluations and reviews of performance - not simply relying on what its clients claim. While some competitors do the same, we can confidently state that our reviews and assessments take place annualy and that each client is provided with a comprehensive report on compliance, opportunities and shortcomings.
So what makes us different? Well.... just about everything.!
What does Heritage Cost?
Our prices and services offer perhaps the most cost-effective EMS and certification system available today. While other schemes may appear cheaper, Heritage offers a more comprehensive and value-for-money alternative designed to provide your business with a globally competitive EMS.
Prices range according to your business type, but to serve as an indication, it is available in the Hospitality and Tourism sector from as little as US$ 7.00 a day. Our average ROI is around three months and our service includes everything! From consulting to training, assessments and marketing, the Heritage Programme offers unbeatable value for money in a highly competitive field. Use our contact form to get more specific costs for your business before you even begin.