Dedication and a will to change the world are all that is required to create a greener, more sustainable company. Eric Hansel lists a few ways to change our small part of the world for an overall difference.

A famous frog used to say something similar with a much more pessimistic attitude. Those words seem to ring true throughout the corporate world, and more specifically, within our industry. As the casino industry begins what is, without a doubt, a monumental and complete shift toward sustainability, it will become increasingly clear that it is easy being green; all it takes is dedication.

Just as any other major change faced by organizations, it will be up to individual organizations to decide how quickly, and intensely, they move up the sustainability continuum. Just as with any change, there will be individuals and companies that step up and make huge commitments early in the shift. One such example is the City Center Project by the MGM mirage. This is going to be the largest commercial Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project in the United States. It will showcase MGM Mirage’s commitment to sustainability and CEO Terri Lanni’s ability to lead the MGM Mirage into the green age.

Of course, there are other green projects around the country, and most properties have already implemented a green program to some extent, whether it is switching to compact fluorescent bulbs, low-flow shower heads or low-flow toilets. Properties are also making attempts to include their customers/players in their corporate social responsibility initiatives. The most visible example of this is the sign in guestrooms asking customers to re-use their towels. This is a good first step, but if becoming green is a continuum, these properties would fall somewhere toward the beginning, which is a great place to start.

It is inevitable that a group of best practices and thought leaders will emerge to guide us through the sustainability continuum. One such thought leader that we can all learn from is Eric Dominguez. He is the director of energy and environmental services for Harrah’s Entertainment. Dominguez, along with other members of the Harrah’s Green Team, has already implemented some impressive green initiatives across Harrah’s 40 domestic properties. These projects include a variety of energy and water conservation measures ranging from lighting retrofits to recovering waste heat from boiler stacks. Other projects include: guestroom thermostat upgrades that set back temperatures and cycle fans; the use of sensors to turn off lights; upgrades to heating and ventilation controls and operating strategies; the installation of variable frequency drives; and the list goes on. Harrah’s was the first hotel-casino in Las Vegas to install an on-site cogeneration facility that produces electricity and utilizes its waste heat instead of running boilers. The company has also figured out a way to recover energy from its high pressure steam system at one of its Atlantic City properties by utilizing a small steam turbine. These projects exemplify how organizations can seamlessly integrate green strategies into their everyday operations.

Dominguez and Harrah’s realize that while these initiatives require large capital outlays and technical know-how, they make fiscal, and more importantly, social sense. For Harrah’s, they also align perfectly with the company’s code of commitment that drives its social responsibility efforts. When you stop thinking about the here and now, and start to focus on the what will be 30 years, 60 years, or even 150 years from now, the things that become important are different than what got us here.

Going forward, successful organizations like Harrah’s will need to focus on improving their customers’ experience while making them feel that their social concerns and environmentalism are in mind. Undoubtedly, we will start to see more socially conscious customer service initiatives (offering organic/free range food while at the same time communicating that in a way your customer/player can appreciate.) throughout the entertainment industry. It will certainly be interesting to see how creative organizations can be when trying to make their customers feel that where they are right now has a vested interest in where their grandchildren’s grandchildren could be in the future.

As you notice green initiatives happening in your area, please e-mail me at eric@egmgreen.com. Over the next few months, this column will focus on the different Eco-initiatives throughout the casino industry, including the only green product to reach your customers at the point of sale: the EGM Green casino tables.