In the six months that I have been publishing Green Lodging News, I have been able to identify many of the companies that aggressively promote and practice sustainable operations. Some smaller companies with a handful of properties are doing an incredible number of things. In the overall “save the planet” scheme of things, their impact is small. At the same time, however, some of the largest hotel companies are doing almost nothing. If they did just a little, their impact would be huge because of the number of hotel rooms that would be impacted.
One large hotel company that is beginning to make a difference is MGM Mirage. With its hotels such as the MGM Grand Las Vegas, Bellagio, Luxor, Excalibur and many others, its push toward sustainability will affect tens of thousands of hotel rooms. As reported here this week, MGM Mirage’s $7 billion CityCenter project in Las Vegas will be the first one in the state of Nevada to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. From the top of the organization on down, MGM Mirage has made a commitment to make sustainability a central element of every future Las Vegas project. The company should be applauded for doing this.
We all know how out of balance Las Vegas is from a sustainability standpoint. If someone were planning a sustainable city, it would not be located in the middle of a desert. Water is scarce and most tourists have to drive or fly hours to get there. The hotels, with their spectacular lights, are energy hogs. It is going to take the leadership of a company like MGM Mirage and others to at least slow the city’s energy burn.
MGM Mirage recently formed a Department of Energy and Environmental Resources to manage its environmental initiatives. The creation of such a department demonstrates that the company is serious about identifying areas in need of improvement, making the necessary changes, and then monitoring and measuring its progress.
Are visitors to Las Vegas the types of people who will care that MGM Mirage is greening its operations? Probably not but that is O.K. What MGM Mirage is doing is plain smart. In the long run it is going to save a lot of money by using fluorescent lighting, reclaiming water and implementing other resource-saving initiatives. According to Gordon Absher, v.p. of public affairs for the company, a recent fluorescent lighting retrofit in the company’s parking garages will save 8 million kWh of electricity. What is good for the environment is also good business and company shareholders will benefit.
More Good News for Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Springs Preserve, a $250 million non-gaming cultural attraction located a few miles off the Las Vegas Strip, is nearing construction completion. With 180 acres of green museums, botanical gardens, galleries, trails and concert venues, the Preserve is designed to set new standards in green building while becoming a new cultural hub for locals and tourists.
As the largest commercial straw-bale construction project in the United States, the Preserve is erecting seven new green buildings intended to join the elite list of buildings nationwide that already have achieved “Platinum” LEED certification.
“It is a virtual miracle that a city like Las Vegas can exist and thrive in the middle of one of the most inhospitable and resource-poor climates in the world with an average annual rainfall of only 4.5 inches,” said Francis Beland, Springs Preserve director in a recent statement. “This anomaly makes the concept of sustainable living a very relevant topic for Las Vegas.”
Maybe there IS hope for Las Vegas. One other thing: If you are planning a drive-through wedding there, be sure to turn off the engine first. Help save the planet.
As always, I can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (440) 243-2055. I look forward to hearing from you.