As I write this column, Earth Day is fast approaching.
I feel that this yearly event still barely registers with a large portion of the populace; most simply confuse it with Arbor Day and think about school kids planting a pine tree in the backyard (my folks home in Massachusetts still has a couple of survivors my siblings and I planted back in the 1970s, they’re both pretty tall now). But Earth Day and the Earth Day Network is a much larger concern, a movement with 50,000 partners in 196 countries with the stated goal of broadening and diversifying the environmental movement worldwide, according to their website. To me it seems they are well on the way to reaching that goal, considering more than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it one of the largest civic observances in the world.
Among the entities leading the charge for more environmentally-friendly business practices is the gaming industry, a happenstance that I could never have imagined happening back in the 1980s when I took my first trip to Las Vegas. I remember walking along the street at night and passing the brightly-lit smaller casinos that had their doors open to the street, pumping out air conditioning that noticeably cooled the otherwise 90 degree heat hundreds of feet away. The frugal New Englander was appalled by the energy extravagance.
Fast forward to today, and the script has flipped—many businesses involved with gaming are taking the lead in making their facilities and operations greener. A few of the more noticeable recent efforts include:
• Konami Gaming’s Las Vegas headquarters, which was awarded the 2016 NAIOP Southern Nevada Spotlight Award for Sustainable/Green Building. This honor annually recognizes the regional commercial building project that exemplifies sustainable principles as a driving force behind development. Konami’s expanded facility more than doubled its original 160,000-square-foot facility with full Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification, and became one of the state’s largest facilities to achieve complete geothermal heating and cooling.
• MGM Resorts International’s The Park, which received the 2016 Water Hero Award from the Southern Nevada Water Authority in recognition of its conservation practices that save millions of gallons of water annually.
• The California-based Sycuan Tribe, which completed a major reduction in overall water usage through an aggressive conservation program that includes retrofitting irrigation equipment, removing and replacing water-dependent landscaping and increasing awareness around the importance of water conservation. The program has reduced the tribe’s reliance on groundwater at the golf course and resort by 25 percent.
• Harrah’s Resort Southern California, which as part of its CodeGreen program generated 113,986 kWh solar energy; decreased water usage by 2.5 percent, saving roughly 2.3 million gallons; increased recycling by 10.5 percent, which diverted 468 tons of material; and switched 90 percent of lightbulbs to LED, saving more than $746,000.
• Caesars Entertainment Corporation, which earned a perfect 100/100 on the 2015 Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Climate Disclosure Score and landed a spot on the Climate Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI). The recognition indicates that Caesars is among the top 10 percent of U.S. companies participating in the CDP process.
This is just a sampling of the hundreds of green-friendly activities that are taking place in casinos throughout the world. In recognition of Earth Day, I congratulate them all and hope their environmental seeds eventually become tall trees.