March 1, 2011 • Energy's Lighter Side, Sustainability, Travel & Leisure

Sustainable Tourism: Why It Pays to Bet on Green

by Chad Holder

Winning with sustainability

On March 16, I will be visiting Las Vegas. In an effort to encourage corporate sustainability, specifically sustainable tourism, I’ve taken it upon myself to support companies that exhibit environmental stewardship and energy efficiency. That’s why I just might seek out and congratulate a Caesars Entertainment Corporation representative for the company’s very successful corporate sustainability strategy.

At this point, it bears mentioning that the timing of my visit to Las Vegas, the location of Caesars’ Nevada headquarters and a certain college basketball tournament are all purely coincidental. Also coincidental: that I planned this trip with seven other Murray State alumni last June.

Caesars Entertainment Corporation, formerly Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., recently was awarded 13 environmental awards, 13 sustainable tourism certifications and was recognized by several global environmental groups for its “green” efforts.

Perhaps you and my wife are asking in a skeptical tone, “What is sustainable tourism?” According to the Travel Industry Dictionary, it’s “the development of a region’s tourism industry in such a way as to not damage or deplete the resources and attractions that make the region attractive to tourists.” Caesars is doing great things, honey. Duty calls.

Caesars’ recognition for its corporate sustainability program is clearly well-deserved. According to the company website, “In the past seven years, more than 110 conservation projects at Caesars U.S. casino resorts and $60 million [in] conservation investments have dramatically reduced the company’s energy usage.”

Among the more creative energy efficiency projects:

• Annual savings of 59 million gallons of water thanks to new shower heads and water-preservation landscaping called “zeroscaping.”

• Installation of 130,000 energy-efficient replacement bulbs. In 2008, Caesars conserved over 39,000 BTUs of natural gas and 14 million KwH of electricity despite adding 1.5 million sq. ft. to the resort.

• Creation of 162,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel from recycled fryer grease and oil from resort restaurants.

• Even unused pens, pads of paper and canvas bags leftover from conferences and conventions are reused and passed along to area schoolteachers.

CodeGreen, Caesars’ environmental sustainability initiative, “focuses on critical issues of energy, waste, water, and carbon emissions at all of its properties and seeks to engage its employees to reduce natural resource use, conserve energy, and promote reuse and recycling.” CodeGreen has received more than a dozen environmental certifications and awards from several prominent travel organizations, as well as the EPA’s WasteWise Gold Achievement New Partner Award and Regional Environmental Quality Award.

Supporting Caesars’ efforts with my hard-earned dollar is my way of saying, “Good job, guys. I’ll be in the sportsbook if you need me.”

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