Helping UK Hoteliers Go Green: Raquel Noboa, Founder & CEO, Fifty Shades Greener

Originally from Spain, Raquel Noboa is a passionate hotelier who has worked in hotels around the globe since she was 17. Way back in 2012, before "going green" was as ubiquitous in hotels as it is today, Raquel was put in charge of creating a sustainability program for the Hotel Doolin, Co. Clare in the west of Ireland with the goal of becoming the 'greenest hotel' in Ireland. Despite working in sales, Raquel rose to the occasion, thoroughly researched and implemented an effective program that in two years saw the hotel reduce its waste production by 40%, its energy consumption by 30%, and water use by 25%, along the way earning the property lots of recognition.


Fast forward, Raquel realized she could help others and the planet by sharing her learnings, so she founded 50 Shades Greener in 2018 with a variety of courses for hospitality, as well as schools and government organizations. This year, she launched the UK's first certified Level 4 certificate in environmental sustainability management in hospitality. We chat with Raquel to learn more about her green journey and the courses she offers.


Raquel Noboa, founder, Fifty Shades Greener
Raquel Noboa, Founder & CEO, Fifty Shades Greener

Tell me more about 50 Shades Greener, how did you get started?

I have worked in the hospitality industry all my life but during my career, nobody ever explained to me anything about carbon emissions, the way we waste energy and water unnecessarily, and the way we produce more waste than we need it. When tasked with making the Hotel Doolin the greenest in Ireland, I became obsessed with the subject of environmental sustainability. The idea to create learning programs began to form in my head during my time as the green manager in Doolin. If I could achieve these results at Hotel Doolin, then surely I could teach others how to begin their green journey, just like I did? That’s how Fifty Shades Greener was born in 2017, becoming a limited company in 2018.


Since then I have worked with over 300 Hospitality businesses and over 5000 school students, and we've helped a few hotels in Ireland become carbon neutral. From a hospitality perspective, our students are realizing reductions of an average 30% for energy, 40% for waste, and 25% for water. We also teach them how to market their green journey in the right way, so they can enhance their reputation and attract the carbon-conscious traveler.

I have worked with over 300 Hospitality businesses and over 5000 school students. From a hospitality perspective, our students are realizing reductions of an average 30% for energy, 40% for waste, and 25% for water. We also teach them how to market their green journey in the right way, so they can enhance their reputation and attract the carbon-conscious traveler.

Sounds amazing, how do hoteliers get involved?

The goal is to teach as many hospitality employees as possible about carbon emissions management. People often think that measuring your carbon emissions is something difficult or impossible, the reality is that it is much easier than they think and that if you measure something you can manage it. For me when it comes to environmental sustainability you will never be able to say with clarity that you have reduced your impact on the planet unless you have first measured what that environmental impact is. We offer a free guide to get hoteliers started.

People often think that measuring your carbon emissions is something difficult or impossible, the reality is that it is much easier than they think and that if you measure something you can manage it.

At Fifty Shades Greener our mission is to make carbon emissions management part of our education curriculums at all levels of education, in fact, we also work with schools where we are teaching students as young as 14 & 15 how to calculate their home’s carbon emissions. By making emissions management part of everyone’s education, society will have the skills and knowledge to assist our governments toward a NetZero economy.


Tell us more about the Level 4 Training rolled out in January.

The Level 4 "Green Managers Program" provides an online program of study to support learners in being competent in measuring, monitoring, and managing carbon emission reduction. It leads to a professional Confederation of Tourism & Hospitality (CTH) Certificate that is regulated as part of the Ofqual, the British qualifications framework of training and education, which means the courses are held to a rigorous standard.


Can hotels incorporate the program into existing training?

Yes, the size of the qualification makes it ideal to be incorporated into an existing program at any level, and the skills learned will give learners a real advantage in the world of work and the ability to positively engage with the environmental sustainability agenda. Individuals can also take our courses outside of work.


What is the demand like for managers with the Green Managers certification?

Of course, there is a labor shortage at the moment, but there is also an acute need for people with the skills to measure, monitor, and reduce carbon emissions in the workplace. Sue Duke, Head of Global Policy and Economic Graph at LinkedIn in Ireland has noted that they have seen a 70% increase in Customer Service job roles requiring three or more ‘green skills’. Also, people who have green skills are recruited 1.5 times faster than those who don’t. Additionally, ‘Green Talent’ is likely to be 2-3 times better connected on LinkedIn than people without green skills. These trends are only set to increase in the years ahead.

Wow, seems like you have developed the right program at the right time. I saw a gap in the educational curriculum for hospitality and I firmly believe that we need to continue to upskill our workforce for the futures jobs of tomorrow, and that very much includes green skills.


Do you offer other green programs?

In addition to the Green Manager, we offer the Green Business Online Program, an A to Z greener for beginners that teaches a hospitality team all the systems and processes they need to implement to reduce their business Carbon Footprint. For individuals, we also have the Green Skills for Life program, plus many options for schools and government agencies.


Sounds great, what else is on the horizon?

On May 3 at 11 am GMT, I am doing a live Q&A with Sue Williams, GM of Whatley Manor, on luxury sustainability. You can get the link here.

Fantastic! We interviewed Sue last year, so inspired by what you both are doing to help other hoteliers become more educated on ESG. Thank you, Raquel.