A stay at a luxury hotel sometimes feels like a guilty pleasure. But thanks to Las Vegas Sands Corp., taking a pampering break can be just about pleasure – without any guilt.
This is because all of their properties, including The Venetian and The Palazzo as well as the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, embrace doing business by utilizing processes and technologies focused on sustainability. Everything possible is thoughtfully designed to minimize environmental impact on the planet.
You may be thinking that you’ve heard this before – for countless hotels christen themselves as being “green” after simply placing cards in the rooms that ask guests to reuse their towels and linens. But The Venetian and The Palazzo have gone leaps and bounds beyond this.
Last week, Las Vegas Sands Corp. unveiled its 2011 Environmental Report. This is a first for any hotel on the Strip. Basically, the comprehensive study examines and formalizes the company’s green operations and commitment to sustainability.
“We put a lot of effort into developing concrete strategies that turn our green values into practice,” said Katarina Tesarova, the executive director of global sustainability for Las Vegas Sands Corp.
So while environmentally friendly resorts have multiplied over recent years as hoteliers try to stay on top of public concerns, few have committed themselves in quite the same way. In 2010, Las Vegas Sands Corp. developed the Sands ECO 360° strategy as their road map, and it has been integrated throughout their properties.
“We realized that we needed to change the strategy. We needed to simplify the message but at the same time make the program much more comprehensive and much more engaging to both the internal and external community,” said Norbert Riezler, the senior vice president and chief procurement sustainability officer for Las Vegas Sands Corp. “Sands ECO360° is designed to minimize the impact of business on the natural environment.”
According to Riezler, the program is based on four “pillars” – green buildings, green operations, green meetings and stakeholder engagement.
Generally speaking, green buildings should be more than architecturally stunning. They must be designed and constructed with sustainable functionality in mind. The same holds true for renovations and other new developments. Plus, certification is of great importance.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and provides an internationally accepted benchmark for identifying green buildings based on design, construction and operations. The Palazzo, which is built from structural steel consisting of 95 percent recycled material, received Silver certification from LEED in 2008.
“Combined, The Venetian, The Palazzo and the Sands Expo and Convention Center is the largest LEED-certified building on the planet,” said Michael Leven, the president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
The second pillar in the Sands ECO360° program consists of green operations. The focus is on resource conservation, waste management and recycling as well as using sustainable products and materials.
The Palazzo has constructed an impressive nano-filtration system (i.e., a process that removes dissolved solids from water) about 48 feet below the ground in the parking garage. It essentially turns wastewater that flows underneath the Strip into irrigation water. More than 78,000 gallons are produced each day, allowing the resort to be “off the water grid” for horticultural needs. An innovative cooling tower technology saves an extra 46 million gallons of water each year in Las Vegas.
The Palazzo also boasts one of the largest rooftop solar thermal systems in the U.S. It provides hot water for swimming pools and spas. In addition, a solar photovoltaic system is used to generate electricity.
“Right here, we have what I think are the only solar panels on the Las Vegas Strip,” said Reizler. “They help us to reduce energy consumption at The Venetian and The Palazzo.”
Sensors are installed in all the suites at The Palazzo that adjust the temperature automatically according to guest occupancy. And these suites feature energy-efficient bulbs as well as a master power switch, enabling guests to conveniently turn off every light when leaving.
Another inspiring operational program is the reclaiming of untouched or partially used soaps and bottled bath amenities. This is done at a recycling dock set up in the main trash area. In 2011, more than 25,000 pounds of these products were donated to Clean the World to support sanitation efforts globally.
Locally, The Venetian and The Palazzo have partnered with Opportunity Village, a nonprofit organization in Las Vegas that serves people with intellectual disabilities. The goal is to convert old fabrics into cleaning cloths that will later be used at the hotels. Not only does this rag reclamation program eliminate waste, but it gives employment to 10 deserving individuals in the community as part of the process.
The third pillar of Sands ECO360° centers on making sustainable practices available for small- to large-scale business and special events.
“Our green meeting program is one of the best in the industry,” said Riezler. “We provide an array of options that our clients can choose from, and they get an individual impact statement after each meeting they host with us.”
This statement reports on energy use, water consumption, the recycling rate and the carbon emissions associated with the conference. These measurements enable clients to create a baseline for future events and, perhaps, give them a guideline for offsetting the carbon footprint generated by their meeting.
Finally, the last pillar in the Sands ECO360° program seeks to involve employees more intimately with sustainability. Eco-awareness is developed in team members through various channels, and they are encouraged to propose ideas that might have environmental impact. One simple suggestion made by John Campbell, a facilities engineer at The Venetian and The Palazzo, is saving more than 165,000 kilowatt-hours of energy each year just by replacing conveyer toasters with pop-up toasters in the employee dining room.
“Companies strive to do the right thing for a number of reasons – some because it makes good business sense, others because it implements global values and still others because it actually does both. It saves money and it strengthens international commitments,” said Leven. “Whatever the motives are for doing the right thing, what is most important is that the right thing gets done – that the world is better off than it was.”
Indeed, The Venetian and The Palazzo – together with all of Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s worldwide properties – are invested in entrenching sustainability into the tourism culture. It’s not a marketing fad or about the bottom line.
Of course, how green you want your vacation to be is a personal choice. But a stay at either of these environmentally friendly resorts is a good start with no discernible sacrifice…unless you go a step further and join efforts by choosing to reuse your linens and towels!