LEAN, GREEN ECO MACHINE: Resorts take leading role in environmentally-friendly initiatives
You won’t find any red lights on this road to green energy.
That’s because it runs right through the Las Vegas Strip, where sustainability efforts have been heartily sustained over the years. After all, going eco is simply logical. Up and down our iconic thoroughfare, resort buildings and complexes have been awarded the green version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval — the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation from the U.S. Green Building Council.
“Nevada has a long history of leading the pack in trends and innovation, particularly in the hospitality sector. And in a desert climate like Southern Nevada, conservation simply makes good business sense. The size and scale of Southern Nevada’s resort properties also lend themselves to large-scale conservation efforts,” says Bethany Drysdale, chief communications officer for the Nevada Division of Tourism in Carson City.
“While the cost savings of clean and renewable energy are obvious benefits to this forward-thinking, we see research every day that shows that visitors want to support hotels and attractions that care about the environment. Travel has an ethical component, and travelers want to feel that they are making environmentally ethical choices with the dollars they spend.”
Energy-wise, how green (and clean) is the Strip portion of our Vegas Valley? Specifically, how are our resorts safeguarding the environment — not only for our guests, but for all of us who call Las Vegas home while breathing its air and drinking its water? Following is a by-no-means-comprehensive list, but rather a fly-by snapshot of the green/sustainability profile of the Vegas resort sector, including individual hotels, their corporate overlords and entertainment attractions:
CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT CORP (Bally’s, Caesars Palace, the Cromwell, the Flamingo, Harrah’s Las Vegas, the Linq, Planet Hollywood, Paris Las Vegas, the Rio): As the enduring expression goes, when in Rome … go green. There’s even a project password, “CodeGreen,” for all the company’s properties (several of which are singled out in this article to highlight individual green efforts) that was initiated in 2008. So: All Hail Sustainability! Eco Kudos: Among the missions of “CodeGreen” — described as “an organization-wide strategy to drive environmental awareness and engagement” — are newly-set goals of reducing carbon emissions 30 percent by 2025, and by a whopping 95 percent by 2050; since 2011, Caesars had already cut its total greenhouse gas emissions by 22.9 percent; since 2008, the company has reduced water usage by 21 percent per square foot, and diverted 41 percent of its waste from landfills in 2017; and company plans include construction of a desert-based solar energy facility.
CITYCENTER (Aria, Crystals, Veer Towers, Vdara and Mandarin Oriental — rebranded Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas on Aug. 30): How to describe it? Green, green and greener still. Eco Kudos: Just a sampling includes using sustainably harvested wood products; relying on a natural gas plant that reduces emissions and uses “waste heat” to provide the complex’s hot water; having water conservation technology that saves 40 percent of water within buildings and 60 percent in outdoor landscaping — totaling 50 million gallons saved annually; installing slot machine bases that are ventilation units cooling guests from the ground up rather than wasting ceiling heating on empty spaces; keeping a fleet of limos using compressed natural gas, increasing their efficiency by 15 percent, and enabling a 40 percent drop in fuel costs compared to vehicles running on gasoline; and using energy-efficient appliances in its residential units, low-wattage lights in the parking garage and nontoxic cleaning supplies.
FOUR SEASONS: Every season is a green season at the Four Seasons, thanks to its sustainability efforts. Eco Kudos: Dedicated to conserving water, the hotel cleans and changes bed linens every third day, unless otherwise requested by guests. In addition, the hotel has adopted a “green dry cleaning” system using a non-perchloroethylene machine, eliminating exposure to that traditional but volatile solvent that can cause health problems. Two electric car charging stations — one for Teslas, the other for smart cars — are on the property. Guest rooms and public spaces are all being converted to LED lighting, and the hotel also benefits from the solar energy generated by the solar panels atop the adjacent Mandalay Bay Hotel.
LAS VEGAS CONVENTION CENTER (operated by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, aka LVCVA, which also produces Las Vegas Newswire): Treating Mother Earth as well as it treats its constant stream of conventioneers, the center is a green warrior. Eco Kudos: Promoting the use of alternative energy, 90 percent of the center’s fleet of vehicles are powered by electricity or propane, and it also offers an electric car charging station. Additionally, there are water conservation and recycling programs and an environmental purchasing policy, mandating evaluations of the sustainability and environmental effects of all LVCVA acquisitions.
MGM RESORTS (Aria, Bellagio, Vdara, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay/The Delano, the Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur, Circus Circus and Park MGM — formerly the Monte Carlo): Under one umbrella for its numerous properties (including several singled out in this story for individual green achievements), the company established its wide-ranging “Green Advantage” program for all its resorts. Collectively, the initiative’s numerous elements “integrate environmentally responsible practices which effectively lower the carbon footprint of our operations, including our resorts, restaurants, retail spaces, meetings and conventions.” Eco Kudos: As just one representative accomplishment, MGM Resorts has reduced emissions by more than 60,000 metric tons of CO2e (equivalent carbon dioxide), which the Environmental Protection Agency estimates is equal to taking 12,000 cars off the road for a year. The company also tracks “green-friendly” vendors to pick out sustainable companies and products.
THE MOB MUSEUM: You might think the exhibits’ underworld subjects were black-hearted, but its keepers have green in their souls. Eco Kudos: In renovating the former federal courthouse downtown at 300 Stewart Ave., the project was designed to include environmental strategies including solar water heating; demand-controlled ventilation to modulate the flow of fresh or outside air in an enclosed space; and a building automation system for centralized control of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and lighting.
NEON MUSEUM: Even here, where energy usage is like oxygen to the grand old hotel signs on display, they’re keen on green. Eco Kudos: All that brilliant neon history is ground-lit by energy-saving LED bulbs.
PALMS: As a good resort-casino citizen, the Palms is an adherent of the BeGreen program, to wit … Eco Kudos: Aiming to be carbon neutral (i.e., releasing no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and reducing their “carbon footprint”), the Palms purchases credits from BeGreen, a product from the Green Mountain Energy Company, which sells cleaner, renewable energy. That includes wind, water and solar sources.
LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP: There’s a major green team effort here, as the three structures that comprise the Sands campus — the Venetian, the Palazzo and the Sands Expo and Convention Center — employ a laser focus on sustainability they’ve dubbed “Sands ECO360.” Eco Kudos: Together, the properties are one of the largest local recyclers of food, cardboard, glass, plastic, paper and metal — and even of batteries, cooking oil and electronic waste; rooms at the Venetian and Palazzo are equipped with LED lights, energy-efficient appliances and low-flow fixtures; even smaller energy-saving measures are employed by the housekeeping staff, including closing drapes, turning off lights and adjusting temperatures in unoccupied rooms; a water infiltration system processes 12 million gallons of water annually, allowing them to be “off the water grid” (without the support of an infrastructure); and an upgrade for pools and spas cuts down on chlorine usage, chemicals and heated water.
TROPICANA: Making a strong bid to be the Dean of Green, the Tropicana juggles multiple initiatives it dubs a “21st century energy management system.” Eco Kudos: On-site water purification at its Oakville Steakhouse; property-wide LED lighting, reducing power consumption; use of energy-efficient, compact fluorescent bulbs in the tower and “best-in-class rooms” that reduce carbon emissions; opt-out choice for guests to avoid daily linen cleaning to save water and energy; recycling of fluorescent tubes and bulbs to prevent the release of mercury, as well as of cardboard, to eliminate the release of methane; and of aluminum cans, to cut down on land and water pollution.
WYNN LAS VEGAS/ENCORE HOTEL: Green-conscious Wynners? Right here, packing a serious enviro-wallop. Recently that was validated as the property earned Four Green Globes, the highest certification from the nonprofit Green Building Initiative. Eco Kudos: Behold a new 160-acre solar facility in Fallon that will completely power the Wynn’s upcoming entertainment expansion, Paradise Park, which is in addition to it 103,000 square feet of solar panels on the Wynn rooftop; completely renewable energy also runs its Information Technology (IT) structure; recycling efforts include diverting nearly 1,600 tons of waste from landfills annually, and 1,300 pounds of paper are saved through paperless checkout for guests; on the water front, measured in annual increments, 15 million-plus gallons are saved after installing turf on a five-acre parcel, while high-efficiency toilets reduce consumption by more than 1.1 million gallons and a linen reuse program saves another 276,000 gallons.
All of which collectively declares: Eco Las Vegas, baby!