Aim for the low-hanging fruit first, then reach higher for bigger environmental initiatives

This year, just as every other year since his birth, we took our 3-year-old son apple picking.  This year however, Ethan was old enough to not only eat the apples, but to also pick them for the first time. As we started walking through the orchard, Ethan was amazed at how many trees there were, and how many apples were on each tree. He had a tough time at first because he was reaching for apples that were too high up.

“Go for the low-hanging apples.” That was my suggestion to him, and the same one that I make about “going green.” Go for the low-hanging fruit first, and then move up the sustainability tree.  By  the time you reach that delicious apple at the top of the tree, you and your team will have the knowledge and confidence to not only pluck that “apple”(maybe a mixed wind-solar co-op farm that produces electricity and your properties produce and herbs), but to also enjoy  its sweetness.  It will take my son a long time to reach that apple at the top of the tree, just as your trip up the sustainability tree will be a long-term investment in the future of your casino and your community.

Imagine that you decide to invest in the sustainability of the casino and the surrounding communities by building a mixed use co-op farm that produces both solar and wind energy. What if the power your facilities generate is a bit more energy than you require. Now you have an interesting opportunity because that extra power can then be sold to utility companies who are required by law to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs). 

This opens up a new revenue stream that will produce income over the next few years and beyond just as your lounges, restaurants, and shopping plazas have provided to all of the one-time gambling halls turned into casino resorts. Let’s not forget the co-op farm, which will produce all of the produce that your restaurants and lounges, as well as your high end food retailers in the shopping plaza, need for each day.  This organic co-op farm would produce electricity, heat, hot and cold water, fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs all with the aid of the local farming community. You would be providing income to families that need it, as well as lowering your overhead per property. When you look at this description, its principles are the same as a positive Triple Bottom Line. 

You are taking care of People by employing them in a safe pesticide-free environment that will sustain their families for a long time to come.  You are taking care of the Planet by planting trees and plants that will turn your inherent CO2 into oxygen.  You are also planting pesticide-free, so no harm will come to the environment (soil).  Finally, you are taking care of Profit by using the same land that you farm on to produce solar and wind energy, which reduces your expenses for the land as well as for your casinos, thus increasing your profit margin.  All involved benefit, the essence of a green Triple Bottom Line.

Getting back to the “low-hanging fruit,” some of the easiest to implement green initiatives are items such as lighting retrofits.  This will allow you to save 20 percent on your energy bills per year with a three-year ROI.  These lights are highly efficient, producing the same amount of light without the heat, all while lasting much longer than traditional bulbs/fluorescents. Applying a nano-technology ceramic window covering will keep heat out of the windows while letting the light through.  A byproduct of this amazing technology is that the windows become shatterproof, and if they do break, it is in one full sheet. Other low-hanging fruit may be retrofitting your shower heads, toilets and thermostats.

By starting small, you can take time to become comfortable doing things in a sustainable way.  The more you take on these green jobs, the more you will begin to understand the theories behind “going green.” Applying those theories to different projects will ensure long-term sustainability success.  I encourage each of you to start small and reach for the low-hanging fruit on your sustainability tree.