NATIONAL REPORT—Hotel companies around the world are preparing for the eighth annual Earth Hour on Saturday, March 29 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time. Sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour has grown to involve hundreds of millions of people across 7,000 cities and 154 countries in a collective statement of concern about climate change. While many lodging establishments will be extinguishing lights for an hour and asking guests to do the same, others are using the occasion to build business—offering Earth Hour-inspired drinks, for example.
MGM Resorts International will once again dim lights at its resorts. Exterior lighting, rooftop signage, marquees and front features at the company’s major Strip resorts and Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Miss. will be turned off during the celebration.
“This event is an opportunity for us to join with others all over the world, to unite in a common mission and illustrate our commitment to the planet,” said Cindy Ortega, MGM Resorts Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer. “Yet environmental responsibility is not just a one-hour observance. It is a year-round priority for MGM Resorts that reaches into every aspect of our business.”
The company has saved 420 million kilowatt hours of energy in the past five years at its resorts—equivalent to 37,000 homes annually or 228,000 metrics tons of CO2E. In 2009, CityCenter—which includes ARIA, Vdara and The Shops at Crystals—was awarded six LEED Gold certifications for sustainable design and construction from the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2012, MGM Resorts was awarded 15 Green Key Hotel rankings for designation of green business operations. Also, in 2012, Green Key Global’s Meetings Program awarded the “5 Green Keys” rating to the meetings and convention spaces within Bellagio, ARIA, Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand Las Vegas. For three consecutive years, MGM Resorts has been listed as the highest ranking company in the casino-resort industry among Newsweek Magazine’s 500 most environmentally responsible companies.
Large Solar Installation Coming
Additionally, MGM Resorts recently announced the planned installation of one of the largest rooftop solar photovoltaic arrays in the world at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center. The 6.2-megawatt installation will be MGM Resorts’ first commercial solar project in the United States and will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,000 homes.
All Caesars Entertainment resorts and casinos in North America will participate in Earth Hour for the sixth consecutive year. Guests and employees will be encouraged to turn off all non-essential interior lighting, while the resorts’ lit exteriors and marquees are shut off for the hour.
According to the Energy Information Administration, world energy consumption will grow 56 percent by 2040. Caesars recognizes that the problems facing the planet demand real action today and that awareness of these issues is critical for change. Earth Hour is one of the company’s many initiatives comprising its larger sustainability strategy, CodeGreen, and serves as a visual representation of their commitment to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship.
Recent Caesars Accomplishments
Every year, Caesars and its nearly 70,000 employees engage in environmental programs and sustainable business practices that provide tangible low-carbon solutions to reduce water, energy and waste consumption at all resorts and casinos. As a result of grassroots programs implemented by a dedicated team at each location, Caesars has succeeded in achieving:
• Reduced energy use 19 percent per air-conditioned square foot from 2007 through 2012 although the company has grown organically.
• Overall U.S. waste diversion of 24 percent (34 domestic properties).
• Reduced carbon footprint by 11.4 percent from 2007 through 2012 at absolute levels.
• Reduced water usage by 7 percent on a square foot basis since 2008 (baseline year).
• Invested nearly $70 million on energy conservation projects since 2004.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reports that 39.67 million tourists came to Las Vegas in 2013. The powering down of nine Caesars resorts in Las Vegas has the ability to impact thousands of daily visitors with its statement on environmental action. The company’s latest development in Las Vegas, The LINQ, consists of three large, highly lit structures that will play a starring role in this year’s event. From the pedestrian-only street within The LINQ, guests will have the best view of Earth Hour festivities and the rare blackout of the country’s brightest city.
Located at the heart of the strip, The LINQ is an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district, anchored by the world’s tallest observation wheel, known as the Las Vegas High Roller. Impacting the Vegas skyline at 550 feet tall and with more than 2,000 LED lights, the High Roller will create a striking effect as it powers down for Earth Hour. Special displays are set to appear on The LINQ’s 130-foot tall three-sided marquee, and the High Roller will shine an electric blue to commemorate the day before both go dark. The Vortex, a visually stunning architectural element intricately embedded with LED lights on top of The Quad Resort & Casino will also power off along with the multiple venues and marquees within The LINQ.
Fairmont Pittsburgh Participating
Fairmont Pittsburgh is going dark to shed light on climate change and support Earth Hour. The lights throughout the lobby and Andys bar will be turned off and replaced with more than 100 candles. Hotel guests and the public are invited to turn off their own lights and spend the evening at Fairmont Pittsburgh for “Cocktails by Candlelight.” Andys will feature the Lights Out Libation made with local Wigle Organic Ginever, St. Germaine and house-made grapefruit bitters.
Earth Hour also marks the launch of Fairmont Pittsburgh’s Recycled Candle Program. All candles to be used that evening are part of the new program which repurposes candles left over from hotel banquet events. Fairmont Pittsburgh colleagues have begun collecting the partially-used candles, which are often left behind by florists, and cleaning the glass votives and melting down the wax to create new candles.
Behind the scenes, the Fairmont Pittsburgh engineering department will turn off all of the hotel’s non-essential back-of-house lights and electronics. Fairmont Pittsburgh is one of more than 60 Fairmont Hotels & Resorts around the planet participating in Earth Hour, reinforcing the company’s pioneering commitment to environmental stewardship.
Earth Hour Drink Created
The InterContinental Boston will shut off its lights and air-conditioning in certain areas. In their lobby, they will post their Earth Hour poster; dim or turn off their lights—and use candles instead; give guests a card about how they can participate in Earth Hour; and provide LED flashlights to the hotel’s VIP Club guests. The hotel will serve a special Earth Hour drink in their Rumba and Miel restaurants.
The InterContinental New York Barclay will be turning off and lowering lights, putting candles throughout the lobby and in public areas with signage to indicate why. A note to customers will explain Earth Hour and suggest they join the effort and use as little lighting as possible in their rooms.
Swire Hotels, including The Opposite House and EAST, Beijing; The Upper House and EAST, Hong Kong will participate in Earth Hour. Each of the hotels will turn off selected lights, including decorative, façade and back office lighting. Guests will be informed of the initiative via iPad, iPod touch, TVs, and also by the Guest Experience Teams.
Beyond Earth Hour, Swire Hotels is conscious of making a positive difference for the environment by remaining as paperless as possible, among other initiatives. Swire Hotels use various environmentally conscious measures in hotel operations on a daily basis. These measures include offering paperless check-in/out and providing iPad, iPod touch, or TVs in every room that replace printed hotel directories. Energy saving Lexus RX450H hybrid cars are used at The Upper House and daily e-newspapers can be uploaded at EAST, Hong Kong (using an iPod touch), and at The Opposite House (using an iPad).
“Swire Hotels has given great consideration to the preferences of our guests and the effect our practices have on the environment,” said Brian Williams, managing director of Swire Hotels. “By utilizing the most up to date technology, Swire Hotels is committed to ongoing sustainable environmental practices and our guests will be encouraged to take part in our preferences.”
This article was compiled from various press releases and e-mails received by Green Lodging News.