When you think about the most sustainable cities in America, Las Vegas isn’t exactly the first bustling metropolis that comes to mind—a perception that MGM Resorts International is working to change.
Earlier this spring, the hotel and casino company became the first in the gaming and hospitality industry to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge. Launched in 2011 as part of President Obama’s larger Climate Action Plan, the Challenge encourages companies to voluntarily commit to cutting energy consumption by 20 percent or more over the next ten years. Today, over 190 organizations including retail companies, schools, public housing, and government operations participate.
While the company’s commitment to the initiative is recent, MGM Resorts has long put an emphasis on procuring and utilizing energy in efficient ways. Chris Magee, executive director of sustainable facilities, said electricity from renewable sources, water, and gas are some areas where improvements have been targeted moving forward.
More than one million light bulbs and fixtures will be replaced with higher-efficiency options over the next couple of years, and recently completed projects include over 1,700 induction technology fixture changes and 3,100 new LED unit additions in parking lot areas. Over 2,700 wall pack lights in other outdoor areas will be retrofitted as well, including fixtures that line pathways and stairwells. The corporate sustainability division of MGM Resorts estimates that over 9 million kWh will be saved annually thanks to these combined exterior lighting changes alone.
Meanwhile, at the convention center at Mandalay Bay Resort, 6.2MWdc of photovoltaic panels are being installed on the existing structure, and another 1.9MWdc will be added with the addition of the new expansion. The combined solar panel array will generate enough electricity to fuel the equivalent of 1,300 homes, making the project the largest solar installation at any convention center in the world.
While the resorts have already saved 383 million kWh of electricity and counting since 2008, they aren’t satisfied to merely walk the walk; the sustainability team places a heavy emphasis on being a leader in the field and educating employees, guests, vendors, and more on their sustainable efforts.
“Education is a huge component of our program,” says Sarah Moore, director of sustainable operations for MGM Resorts International. “We are the largest employer in the state of Nevada with 62,000 employees, so we have an obligation to better our community. We can retrofit and upgrade our buildings the best that we can, but if we can’t drive behavioral change through our employees, we won’t reach our energy conservation goals.”
Magee agrees, saying he believes their efforts will help bring more attention to the Better Building Challenge, which he sees as an efficient way to help push forward sustainable goals across the country via transparency. “If the challenge meets 2.5 percent reduction in energy intensity for each year of the program, that would be $80 billion dollars saved per year after the 10-year challenge,” he says. “So it has the ability to make dramatic effect in reduction of energy consumption and carbon pollution.”