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Dover Downs Hotel & Casino a Deserving Host for Sustain 2016 Event

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DOVER, DEL.—When the two-day Sustain 2016 green lodging conference kicks off on March 14, it will be held at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, a venue with a long list of green initiatives. The 80-acre property, which features a 500-room hotel, casino, horse racing, entertainment, and multiple restaurants, is a Delaware Green Lodging Program participant and dedicated to reducing waste, improving energy and water efficiency, and supporting local farmers.

According to Ed Sutor, President of Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, the reasons for pursuing sustainability have been many but one reason has certainly been to keep costs under control. Dover Downs Hotel & Casino operates in a state with a gaming tax rate of 62 percent. At one time that was 25 percent. Dover Downs Hotel & Casino also operates in a highly competitive gaming region. In 1996 there were 15 casinos in the Mid-Atlantic region. Today there are 28 with more opening this year.

From a waste management perspective, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino has seen significant improvement in recent years. “At one time 10 percent was being recycled,” Sutor says.
“We set a goal of 50 percent and for the last five or six years we have been at 60 percent. We have inspectors who look through trash. We empower people in housekeeping to monitor the trash.”

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino makes some money off of its cardboard, does not get charged for the taking away of single-stream recyclables, and has compactors to reduce trash and recyclables volume. Soaps and other amenities are donated to a local homeless shelter. The property does pay to have food waste picked up. “We have been separating food waste for a couple of years,” says Terry Harmeson, V.P. of Facilities. “Since last July, food waste—10 tons a week—has been taken to a waste to energy facility.” Key to the success of the waste management program is training upon hiring and ongoing reminders through training and signage in different languages.

No Energy Consumption Increase After Expansion

From an energy management perspective, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino has kept a watchful eye on consumption since the hotel opened in 2002. An outside company has assisted with lighting, heating and cooling. In 2007 the property completed its expansion that included three restaurants and additional casino space. Even with the expansion, energy consumption remained the same. “We relamped the entire building,” Sutor says. “We focused a lot on our BAS (building automation system) by maximizing efficiency and balancing air flows. It was about a one-year project beginning in 2006 and paid for itself in three years.”

Harmeson says Dover Downs Hotel & Casino began looking at replacing existing lighting with LEDs several years ago. LEDs have been added to casino areas and when guestroom bulbs need replaced, LEDs are added. “Last May we replaced 350 parking lot lights with LEDs. Wattage per lamp was reduced from 250 watts to 78 watts.”

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino has not yet invested in a guestroom energy management system but other guestroom initiatives have yielded energy savings. Housekeepers, for example, are trained to adjust thermostats to energy-saving levels when guestrooms are vacant. At one time guests were rewarded with a $5 coupon if they bypassed linen replacement. Now, no linens are changed and towels are only changed if they are placed on the floor. Most guests visiting Dover Downs Hotel & Casino stay for just one night.

To conserve water, Harmeson says showerheads, toilets, urinals and faucets are low-volume. Also, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino is looking at putting in irrigation wells to reduce costs.

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino sources much of its food from within a 150-mile radius, works with sustainable seafood partners, and utilizes seasonal vegetables and bulk oil systems. Suppliers with sustainability programs are favored.
   
Many events are held at the property throughout the year. “We reply to RFPs all the time,” Sutor says. “Inevitably, one of the questions is: ‘Describe your green program.’ It is critical to getting conventions. It has absolutely helped us to have such a focus on sustainability.”

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino’s business approach extends out into the community where Sutor says, “We are on every board you can think of.” Organizations cited on the property’s website include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Food Bank of Delaware, and the American Red Cross.

Go to the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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