Casinos take steps to become the leaders in environmentaly-sustaible design
CASE STUDY 1: Digging deep
Peppermill Resort receives accolades for geothermal heating and other next-generation green initiatives
When it came time for the Nevada Hotel and Lodging Association to award this year’s Sustainability Leader Award, there was likely little argument that it should go to the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno. After all, how many gaming properties can boast that they derive all their heating from Mother Nature, in this instance, from geothermal energy?
Indeed, the Peppermill Reno has received numerous awards for its ever-evolving sustainability efforts. Notably, the 2 million-square-foot property is the only U.S. hotel to be heated completely by an on-site geothermal well. This accomplishment cost the resort $9.7 million and involved 4,400 feet of drilling. The resort has consequently reduced its CO2 emissions by 12,000 metric tons per year.
While the state-of-the-art geothermal system headlines the Peppermill’s green initiatives, the resort has invested in making every facet of its operation more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. This combination of green initiatives makes Peppermill Resort Spa Casino a leading example of environmental stewardship in the nation. These innovations include:
• Installation of two Tesla Connector Charging Stations. These high-powered connectors run off of a 240-volt circuit that supplies power at 20KW—adding up to 58 miles of range.
• A closed-loop hydronic heating and cooling system which utilizes outdoor temperatures to cool water rather than energy-intensive chillers. The natural, pre-cooling system saves the Peppermill $5,000 each 24-hour period in electrical energy costs.
• Automated digitally controlled smart states regulate all hotel room heating and cooling systems enabling the facility to run 1,000 percent more efficiently than if it was controlled manually.
• Comprehensive water conservation programs, including 40,000 square feet of artificial grass turf, save Peppermill approximately 5.2 million gallons of water per season and reduce the hotel’s use of chemicals and pesticides.
• LED parking lot lights and interior LED and fluorescent retrofit lighting recently installed throughout the resort save approximately $130,000 a year in electrical energy cost, resulting in an average of $98,000 in rebates from NV Energy each year.
• A paperless human resource department.
• A soap recycling program diverts more than 1,000 pounds of soap and shampoo per month from local landfills and collects, sorts and processes them for donation. The nonprofit organization Clean the World redistributes the soap and shampoo to children in developing nations whose health is threatened by poor hygiene. The Peppermill’s recycled soap and shampoo serve more than 1,200 children per year.
• Reusable utensils, napkins and tablecloths in all restaurants.
• Comprehensive recycling of laundry water saves millions of gallons of water per year. The Aqua Recycling system captures, filters and reuses enough water to save the resort hotel approximately $246,000 per year.
• Shredding and recycling of all the contents of all on-site paper receptacles.
• Diversion of yards of organic waste from landfills each month through a composting program that takes food scraps and turns them into high-quality soil.
Being able to tap geothermal energy creates perks aside from reduced energy costs. The Peppermill boasts two beautiful pools and three outdoor jetted spas all heated with geothermal energy, and the three-story, 33,000-square-foot Spa & Salon Toscana featuring 24 treatment rooms, Northern Nevada’s only Caldarium with indoor pool, sun deck and secret garden, and a full-service salon.
CASE STUDY 2: Tower power
The Forest County Potawatomi made sure green initiatives were front and center when it conceived and planned a new hotel tower for Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
When Milwaukee, Wisc.-based Potawatomi Hotel & Casino unveiled its new 381-room, 19-story hotel tower this past August, observers lauded its sleek, angular look and the numerous customer-attracting design features.
According to property literature, upon arrival, guests will pull up to the hotel under the expansive porte cochere—which covers a heated walkway underneath. They will enter the hotel’s lobby and be greeted with a nod to Mother Nature. Pillars throughout the space replicate large trees and large leaf canopies. Far above the lobby a complex lighting system, featuring about 3,200 LED nodes, can create different patterns, movement and shows from the ceiling. The Color Kinetic System can produce about 16.1 million different colors and provide custom light for any time of day, time of year or special occasion. It can simulate sun breaking through trees, thunderstorms, raging fires and more.
The rooms themselves also drew notice. One presidential suite, taking up a large portion of the hotel’s 19th floor, boasts one-of-a-kind views of the Milwaukee skyline. At $4,000 per night, it is the city’s largest and most expensive hotel suite with about 3,000 square feet, which includes an 800 square-foot patio overlooking the city. The room includes a spacious living area, floor-to-ceiling windows, a huge master bedroom with fireplace and a 60-inch television mounted above. A spa-like master bathroom with Kohler finishes includes a Jacuzzi. All furnishings and flooring were custom made for the one-of-a-kind space.
“Adding a hotel to this property will allow us to show our brand of exciting entertainment to a much wider audience,” said Mike Goodrich, general manager for Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. “With the addition of lodging, our property will now be at the forefront of destination casinos. It will also serve as another reason for people to visit the Milwaukee area.”
Behind the scenes, however, the emphasis was very much on creating a sustainable, environmentally-advanced hotel tower for the resort, which includes nearly 3,000 slot machines, 100 table games, a 1,350-seat bingo hall, six additional restaurants and multiple entertainment options, including the one-of-a-kind, 500-seat Northern Lights Theater.
“Implementing green measures in the design and construction of the hotel was an integral focus of the tribe,” Goodrich added. “This priority on sustainability stems from the tribe’s traditional belief in honoring all living things.”
Advancing sustainable business practices, which adhere to the long-standing traditions the Forest County Potawatomi have embraced for centuries, has been a key focus at the casino for years. And now, with the addition of a hotel, new opportunities to take the tribe’s sustainability efforts “to greater heights” and positively impact the environment were a main priority in the designs and planning for the hotel, enabling the property to apply for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Through numerous green initiatives, the goal is to become one of the premier sustainable developments in Milwaukee.
Since the tribe broke ground with hotel construction in 2012, it put a priority on partnering with local and regional suppliers that have provided various materials for the hotel. Working with these suppliers reduces transportation costs, resulting in less pollution through emissions. Nearly 3.2 million pounds of construction debris used for the hotel, including materials such as steel and wood, was sorted and recycled. In addition, low-emitting adhesives, such as those used in carpet and wallpaper installation, met or exceeded indoor environmental quality guidelines.
Water efficiency efforts are noticeable both inside and outside the hotel. By incorporating native landscaping techniques that have helped revitalize the Menomonee Valley, Potawatomi Hotel will significantly reduce water consumption in a number of ways. The plants used in landscaping require little water to keep them green, which will also help contribute to water efficiency efforts. Inside the hotel, all rooms feature low-flow water fixtures that greatly reduce the amount of water used on property.
Energy consumption is managed through innovative technology and conservation techniques that hotel guests experience as soon as they enter their rooms. Once a hotel room key card is entered, the room’s thermostat will sense activity and adjust the room temperature accordingly. LED lighting throughout the property has controls in place that limit and reduce usage as needed. Sensors also gauge how much natural lighting is coming through the hotel’s large windows during the day and adjust the hotel’s lighting to keep energy consumption down.
The hotel’s feature restaurant, Locavore, uses local and sustainable foods sourced from the finest local purveyors. The menu features sustainable food options and seasonal indigenous ingredients that embrace the Native American values of the Potawatomi tribe. Locavore uses state-of-the art cooking equipment that reduces energy and water usage. Also, the restaurant recycles its cooking oil and provides guests with environmentally friendly to-go containers.
Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is committed to sustainable business practices that positively impact the environment. Through strategic innovation and design processes, the new hotel tower is poised to be a leading sustainable development in the community.
CASE STUDY 3: Taking the LEED
Two recently-opened Caesars Entertainment properties win LEED certification for sustainable design and practices
It’s been a busy year for Caesars Entertainment, which has seen the opening of two impressive new properties: Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, which was unveiled in August, and The LINQ, a Las Vegas-based open-air shopping and entertainment district, officially opened late last month.
In addition to the hundreds of tasks necessary for a successful opening, officials at both properties had an extra task—making sure everything was in place for the facilities to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The end result of these endeavors: a LEED-certified Gold designation for Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, and a LEED-certified Silver ranking for the LINQ.
According to company press materials, both of these certifications are part of Caesars’ commitment to pursuing LEED certification for all new construction on developments primarily owned and operated by Caesars and its affiliates. Caesars aspires to achieve LEED Gold and is committed to LEED Silver for all new projects.
LEED certification supports the company’s overall strategic priority to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent per square foot by 2025. In 2013, Caesars exceeded its short term goal of 10 percent with a reduction of 12.7 percent on an absolute basis.
“As soon as we start the planning process for our new developments, we are considering ways to make our buildings part of a sustainable future,” said Greg Miller, executive vice president of domestic development for Caesars Entertainment. “By considering building elements’ energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality, and materials, we are creating healthy, vibrant places for our guests to relax and play, and for our employees to work.”
Caesars Entertainment has chosen LEED certification because of its rigorous approach to measurable environmentally sound building design, construction, operations and maintenance. Caesars’ commitment to sustainable operations is further demonstrated by CodeGreen, a company-wide, multi-year sustainability strategy. CodeGreen is an employee-driven program that reduces overall resource usage and takes aggressive and proactive measures to preserve the environment for future generations.
As the first LEED Gold project for Caesars Entertainment, Horseshoe Baltimore’s sustainable features exceed Baltimore’s city standards requiring new buildings to be certified LEED Silver or its equivalent, further demonstrating the company’s commitment to sustainable construction. The casino is also one of only four casinos in the United States to be LEED certified.
With a comprehensive green building strategy, Horseshoe Baltimore’s design and construction includes many features for energy efficiency, waste diversion and exceptional indoor air quality. Project highlights include:
• Horseshoe Baltimore’s design enables it to collect and store storm water for use in all lavatories and for all landscaping irrigation. Water is also carefully monitored and conserved with ultra-efficient and low-flow water fixtures throughout the building.
• Working with the casino’s general contractor, Horseshoe Baltimore’s management team was able to ensure that more than 49 percent of construction materials were extracted and manufactured locally and that roughly a quarter of construction materials contained recycled content. Ninety-seven percent of the project’s construction waste was diverted from landfills.
The LINQ, Caesars Entertainment’s outdoor dining, entertainment and shopping promenade at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, achieved LEED Silver. Among the highlights:
• The LINQ has energy cost savings of more than 21 percent over the LEED baseline building performance.
• By utilizing drought-tolerant native and adaptive plantings and high efficiency drip irrigation systems and sensors, The LINQ will reduce more than 51 percent of potable water consumption.
• Due to its location at the center of The Strip, The LINQ was also recognized for its intense development density, optimized parking capacity and available public transportation. The LINQ also offers preferred parking spots for low-emission vehicles.
• The LINQ team created a guidebook for current and future tenants to understand Caesars Entertainment’s commitment to sustainability and how the core and shell of The LINQ and the Wheel Building were designed and constructed to conserve resources and provide an energy efficient, healthy environment for tenants. The guide also provides resources for tenants to pursue LEED Commercial Interiors.
In addition to new construction projects, Caesars Entertainment is also pursuing LEED certifications for all of its existing buildings in Nevada.
CASE STUDY 4: Roaring success
MGM Resorts International is recognized for its energy efficiency programs
MGM Resorts International recently received the Alliance to Save Energy’s highest honor, the Galaxy Star of Energy Efficiency Award at a special awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Each year, the Star of Energy Efficiency Awards are bestowed upon individuals, organizations, companies, government programs and learning institutions that have demonstrated a significant and tangible commitment to the cause of energy efficiency both in the United States and abroad.
MGM Resorts was honored for reducing energy use at their Las Vegas properties by more than 420 million kWh and reducing annual carbon equivalent emissions by 100,000 metric tons through their Green Advantage sustainability platform, according to company press materials.
“We know that our guests do not dismiss their environmental ideals when they pack their suitcases,” said Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer for MGM Resorts. “Our 23 resorts and 62,000 employees are committed to providing memorable experiences for our guests, and that includes continuously implementing practices that reduce our environmental impact.”
The Galaxy Star award recognizes outstanding achievements in energy efficiency for entities earning more than $150 million in annual revenue. Previous recipients of the Galaxy Star include the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Kroger Co., Briggs & Stratton and U?Haul International.
“MGM Resorts International has already achieved impressive energy savings in its facilities through building management systems, employee-driven efficiency efforts and other strategies. With the continued leadership of Jim Murren and Cindy Ortega, I look forward to seeing how the 2014 Galaxy Star of Energy Efficiency builds upon these accomplishments in the near future,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.
Through its sustainability program, Green Advantage, MGM Resorts has reduced its annual energy usage by 14 percent since 2007. Earlier this year, MGM Resorts announced that it is joining the U.S. Energy Department’s Better Buildings Challenge, a national pledge calling for organizations to voluntarily reduce their building portfolio energy use by 20 percent in 10 years.
Additionally, MGM Resorts recently announced the expanded convention center at Mandalay Bay that will include a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) array making it the largest convention center array in the world. The anticipated size of the array is approximately 1.9MWdc with an approximate annual production of 3.4M kilowatt hours. The previously announced 6.2MWdc solar PV array on the current convention center was slated for completion last month; the combined array will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,300 homes.