The blog of

How to Obtain Sustainability Certification for Your Short-Term Rental

By Nathan Guss|7 min|March 2024

Wondering how to showcase your short-term rental’s sustainability? Find out how to obtain a green badge for your listing.

Green travel is a hot topic in the tourism industry. This week’s coverage in the New York Times is just one of many discussions on the subject. The surge of interest comes in large part from eco-conscious travelers, as indicated by’s Sustainable Travel Report 2023, in which 80% of those polled expressed a desire to travel more sustainably.

If you’re thinking about ways to make your short-term rental (STR) greener, you can find seven tips in last week’s post. Once you have taken some steps to make your unit more sustainable, why not let your guests and potential guests know about it? Why not obtain a green certification to display in your listings? That way, people looking for green options will be able to find you more easily. Various platforms, such as Airbnb and, display sustainability certifications. While there are many such certifications for the tourism industry, the only prominent program aimed at short-term rentals is Sustonica. This article breaks down the company’s green certification process and criteria.


Launched in 2023 and based in Spain, Sustonica runs a certification program designed for vacation rentals. Founder Vanessa de Souza Lage, who has an extensive background in the STR industry, saw that there was a lack of credible green certifications for small-scale short-term rentals. Sustonica has filled the gap by offering the first sustainability standard. The program is built around a framework based on major sustainability benchmarks, such as SDG, ISO, among others, for a thorough, credible validation process.

Sustonica’s criteria are tailored to the short-term rental sector, incorporating global sustainability standards while catering to the specific needs of these properties. The approach is cost-effective, avoiding the high expenses of traditional hotel audits. The company has succeeded in doing so largely through virtual home tours that replace pricey in-person auditor visits. As a result, they have made sustainability certification accessible and practical for small-scale STR operators.

Certification Process

Sustonica’s certification process involves external auditors, who maintain independence and objectivity. That’s partially how the program prevents greenwashing (giving misleading information about how products, actions, or policies are environmentally friendly). It also does so with transparent criteria and a thorough verification process. All this ensures that the certification is a genuine reflection of your property’s sustainability.

To achieve certification, a home must earn a score of at least 20% of the possible points. That said, your work isn’t done once you’re certified. You must improve your sustainability score yearly by 2% to 4% to maintain and renew certification. This progressive model both checks initial compliance and encourages continuous improvement.


Sustonica’s criteria for vacation rentals are structured around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and are informed by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria, among others. These criteria incorporate a continuous improvement approach, following the ISO methodology PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act), to ensure sustainability in various aspects of vacation rentals. The criteria are divided into several key categories:

  1. Energy conservation—as using renewable energy sources, installing energy-efficient appliances, and incorporating smart technologies to minimize dependence on fossil fuels.
  2. Community and destination promotion—making properties wheelchair accessible, respecting neighbors, and promoting local businesses and culture.
  3. Waste reduction—recycling bins, use of refillable and biodegradable products, and minimal use of single-use plastics.
  4. Water conservation—installation of water-efficient appliances, leak detection systems, and rainwater collection systems.
  5. Swimming pool/hot tub impact—reducing environmental impacts through energy-efficient heating methods, natural filtration systems, and sustainable maintenance practices.

How to Earn Certification

  1. Check the criteria.

Start by reviewing the criteria for the different property types (city apartments, townhouses, country homes with or without pools) to see if your vacation rental is up to the standards. The website provides tips for “quick wins” that help owners and managers meet the criteria.

  1. Take the test.

The site offers an online test to quickly assess whether your property is eligible for the certification. This step can give you a preliminary idea of where your property stands and whether you still have some work to do.

  1. Sign up and create properties.

The next step involves signing up on the platform, where you can add one or more units.

  1. Upload the required documents.

You’ll need to upload relevant documents that support your application. Sustonica requires two types of proof for certification: photos and documents, such as invoices or screenshots. You can use some documents for multiple homes, for example bulk purchase invoices for eco-friendly products. Property-specific documents include digital guidebook links, renewable energy certificates, and invoices for sustainable features, such as smart thermostats and leak detection systems. If your unit has a pool or hot tub, you’ll need to submit additional documents, such as receipts for eco-friendly heating and natural filtration systems.

  1. Conduct a virtual property tour.

Using Sustonica’s app, conduct a tour of your property to take photos of the features that comply with the certification criteria. The company uses geolocation to ensure the photos’ authenticity.

  1. Receive your badge.

Once verified, you’ll receive a digital badge with a unique ID number recorded on the Ethereum blockchain. This badge comes with a dedicated webpage link, which you can use for promotional purposes on your website, social media, and within your rental. It’s valid for one year, with no obligation to renew.


The certification costs 49 euros yearly per rental for the first year. As of April 1, 2024, the price will be 68 euros.

Achieving sustainability certification for your short-term rental lets your guests know that your business has eco-friendly values and practices. This enhances your property’s appeal to a growing segment of environmentally aware travelers, and it’s a nice feather in your cap for the excellent work you’ve done for the planet.

Share this article

Read more


By Nathan Guss|8 min|April 2024

5 Tips for Hosting Cyclists in Your Short-Term Rental

Many areas around the country are magnets for cycling tourists. Places like Durango, Colorado; Moab...


By Nathan Guss|8 min|April 2024

How to Make Your Short-Term Rental Pet Friendly

Why limit your rental guests to humans? Many people consider their pets part of the family and pref...


By Nathan Guss|6 min|April 2024

5 Tips to Increase Your Off-Season Short-Term Rental Bookings

Mud season, shoulder season, low season, slow season, off-season—it goes by many names, but it mean...


By Nathan Guss|7 min|March 2024

How to Obtain Sustainability Certification for Your Short-Term Rental

Green travel is a hot topic in the tourism industry. This week’s coverage in the New York Times is ...


By Nathan Guss|9 min|March 2024

7 Tips to Make Your Short-Term Rental Greener

Have you been thinking about ways to make your short-term rental operation mesh with your values? D...


By Nathan Guss|8 min|March 2024

Entry Systems for Short-Term Rentals

Smooth entry into a short-term rental is a crucial part of making a good first impression. It’s the...


By Nathan Guss|6 min|March 2024

Off the Grid, On the Clock: Tips for Truly Remote Work

Would you like to take the term “remote work” literally? Are there faraway beach, mountain, or fore...

Home Insurance

By Nathan Guss|6 min|March 2024

How to Deal with Eco-Anxiety After Home Damages

A home disaster can leave you with a heavy emotional aftermath. If the damages are the result of a ...