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Innovation

Vegas Is Putting Its Chips On Green

Hospitality and entertainment powerhouse MGM Resorts International holds a strong hand on the Las Vegas strip. With more than 10 resorts in the city, ranging from the classic MGM Grand to the nostalgic New York-New York, MGM’s prominence in Sin City is impressive. But what you might not know is that the Paradise, Nevada-based company is prioritizing eco-friendly practices at its newest resorts and putting its chips on green.

MGM operates two of the greenest properties on the strip: Vdara Hotel and Spa and ARIA Resort and Casino–both of which are part of MGM’s Aria Campus, formerly known as CityCenter. Vdara’s Environmental Commitment page describes ARIA Campus as being “one of the world’s largest environmentally sustainable urban communities,” that “is committed to maintaining elevated green standards for both today and tomorrow.” ARIA Campus showcases an extremely efficient 8.2 MW central plant that utilizes a heat and power system which traps any leftover heat “to warm domestic hot water for hotel use,” MGM says on the page. Sustainability practices at ARIA Campus include sourcing wood from forests that are responsibly managed and efficient water use.

The campus’s limousines and Cadillac Escalades “represent the world’s first fleet of luxury guest transportation to operate exclusively on compressed natural gas (CNG), resulting in lower harmful environmental emissions,” according to the Environmental Commitment page. Energy efficiency initiatives utilized at ARIA result in energy savings of 30 percent, which MGM says is “an equivalent to powering 8,800 households annually. Additionally, “ARIA Campus conserves estimated 33% of water by utilizing efficient plumbing fixtures.” The campus has earned six LEED Gold Certifications, according to Vdara’s page. Aria Resort and Casino and the Vdara Hotel and Spa, which opened in 2009, were the first in Las Vegas to be awarded LEED Gold.

Vdara’s Environmental Commitment page notes that ARIA Campus trained thousands of employees, ranging from construction workers to designers, on sustainable construction methods. Vdara Hotel and Spa and Aria Resort and Casino have both been awarded a 5 Green Key Eco-Rating–the Green Key Eco-Rating Program’s highest honor achieved by just one percent of rated hotels, according to MGM’s Green Building page. MGM has even increased the efficiency of its iconic Bellagio fountain’s lighting. The company says on its Green Building page that resort engineers crafted an LED light for the front lake section of the fountain that consumes 75 percent less energy.

But MGM’s largest sustainability initiative is one that is still in the works. It was revealed in 2018 that the company would be partnering with Invenergy to build a 100-megawatt solar array capable of powering its 13 Las Vegas properties. Although the project was initially scheduled to be operational by the end of this year, the date has since been pushed back to 2021.

“In 2020, we will break ground on our 100 megawatt solar array in Southern Nevada. When fully operational in 2021, it will provide up to 90% of the daytime power for our Las Vegas properties,” MGM said in its 2019 Social Impact and Sustainability Report. The MGM-Invenergy Solar Project “will consist of around 336,000 panels across 640 acres of land, and will generate enough electricity to power 27,000 homes for one year,” CNBC reported.

Another example of Las Vegas’ shift toward green is the Hilton-owned Waldorf Astoria property. The Points Guy reports that the hotel utilizes Hilton’s signature LightStay system of measurement–a policy of sustainability to reduce the output of waste and CO2 at the hotel as well as promote water and energy efficiency. Hilton says that all Waldorf Astoria staff are trained “in energy efficiency, air quality, water conservation and additional environmental protections.” 

In 2018, Nevada added 8,000 new clean energy jobs for a total of 32,211 in 2018–a whopping 32.4 percent increase. This made the state number one Nationwide for green job growth, according to national nonpartisan business group E2. The Las Vegas-Paradise metro area alone accounted for over 18,600 of these clean energy positions. MGM and Hilton’s efforts may spark others to gamble on green and create even more jobs in the industry.

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