Caesars Entertainment Empowers Employees to Lead Water Reduction Efforts

Mar 25, 2014 3:00 PM ET

Original blog on Justmeans

Blog Entry by Julie Fahnestock in Corporate Social Responsibility

 For some reason, I’ve never thought about the impact of the hotel industry on the planet. My hotel stays are typically rushed and more about what I came to a particular town to accomplish than about lounging in the hotel pool or lobby. So, except for the moment when I decide to leave my towels on the floor or hang them up, understanding how or what it takes for hotel to operate responsibly has not been on the forefront of my sustainability research.

Until . . . I started thinking about water. According to the International Tourism Green Partnership, water accounts for 10% of the utility bills in many hotels. Green landscaping, crystal clear pools, golf courses and yes, showers and air conditioning, cost hotels thousands of dollars in water use each year. And these customer-demanded amenities cost the planet even more. Research by the Stockholm International Water Institute predicts that by 2030, the world might face a 40% global demand/supply gap of accessible, reliable water supply for economic development. Yet the water used to maintain one golf course at a luxury hotel equates to the same amount of water need by about 60,000 people. Clearly, it is crucial that the tourism industry takes responsibility for their impact and makes changes in their operations.

Caesar’s Entertainment has taken the plunge. In 2007, this Las Vegas-based,casino hotel chain began tracking their impact across several environmental externalities, including water usage. Their short-term goal is to reduce their water use per air-conditioned square foot by 10% from 2008 to 2015. By 2020, they want this reduction to be 15%.  Not that much, perhaps you’re thinking? Why can’t they do more, you’re asking? Well, for a company that owns and operates over 50 entertainment hotels across the world, this is a big start.

I spoke with Eric Dominguez, Corporate Director of Engineering, Utilities, and Environmental Affairs at Caesar’s Entertainment, about the details of the hotel’s water reduction plans. Turns out they are a very smart company. They know that it takes empowered and incentivized front-line employees to implement water conservation efforts.

“You have to have engagement at the property line. We need people at front lines to have the knowhow they can make a difference in their own lives, day to day. There’s a lot of benefit in this. It’s not just the executive team telling them about it. We started Green Code Teams. They are a balance of people from different departments. It’s not just the facilities staff, but also the food service and housekeeping employees. They take ownership over our environmental initiatives. I’ve seen a sense of pride among them. The younger generations expect these types of efforts and ultimately, it provides a lot of other benefits for us, like happy employees. Our employees feel good about what the company is doing,” Dominguez told me.

Over half of Caesar’s employees say they are very familiar with CodeGreen programs. And, slightly over one quarter of employees have participated in a CodeGreen event in the last six months. Caesar’s Entertainment has also sent over 200 managers to obtain an internal certification called the CodeGreen Meetings Certification, training them on planning and hosting environmentally responsible meetings.

“How are you scaling your impact? Tell me about the specifics of your water efforts,” I asked Dominguez.

“We are constantly retraining and re-emphasizing programs to make sure they work.  We recently changed out 12,000 showerheads with low flow models. We went beyond compliance from 2.5 gallons per minute to 1.8 per minute. First we piloted that program. We put surveys in guest rooms to see if they had any negative feedback. Overall, guests didn’t notice the difference."

"We also refurbished our public sinks and restrooms with low flow aerators. Again, this was immaterial in terms of guest impact. We are also introducing technologies that look very closely at how we treat water. We can increase the number of times we use the water before we send it down the drain. We are piloting these programs in Vegas. It’s not so sexy, but really impactful,” Dominguez explained.

Click here to read the full blog post on Justmeans.