Smart building owners and developers who implement energy management efforts within their buildings and organizations use sustainability and energy efficient initiatives because of the business case, which ultimately comes down to reducing energy use and spend, while improving the reliability of its energy sources – but sometimes, being recognized for their efforts is icing on the cake.
MGM Resorts, for example, was just recognized for “excellence and leadership in the use of energy management and information systems to reduce energy costs and improve building performance” by the Better Buildings program from the DOE. While MGM did not focus on its energy efforts in order to win awards, being recognized “validates what we’re doing, and it also compares us to other big participants in the program, as well,” said Chris Magee, the company’s VP of sustainable facilities in its Corporate Sustainability Division (via the Las Vegas Sun).
Steps toward Savings
MGM Resorts was recognized by the Better Buildings program for an education management information system that monitors everyday work processes, retrofits and maintenance cost savings across its 50 million square feet of building space.
MGM says that its central power plant at the Aria Resort & Casino, the company’s central feature at its CityCenter, plays a key role in its energy management efforts. The plant captures emitted heat before it enters the atmosphere. The captured hot air is used to heat water in all buildings and pools, reducing the energy that would otherwise be used by boilers. Magee calls it “probably the smartest system we have in any of our buildings.” The Aria plant is monitored continuously to discover any changes in energy consumption, enabling energy managers to note small problems and fix them before they become significant. For example, Magee says, they noticed that there was an issue with one of its properties where energy consumption changed at 3 am every day. By improving “just that one dip, in whatever issue that might be, the potential impact is significant.”
The company has also upgraded more than 14,500 lights across 49,000+ parking spaces, saving more than 18 million kWh in 2016 and winning a Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign award.
MGM Resorts has been working with DOE since 2008 when the company joined the steering committee of the Better Buildings Alliance (BBA), formerly known as the Commercial Real Estate Energy Alliance. MGM says it joined the alliance in part to promote energy savings initiatives across the hospitality sector, and helps the group “share best practices, influence supply chain, and shape the future of research & development in the commercial setting,” the BBA says.
The BBA notes that in the past five years, MGM Resorts has saved over 2.5 billion gallons of water, 420 million kWh of energy and increased the recycling rate by 355%. MGM set a goal of reducing energy intensity by 20% (cumulative, against a baseline) and has currently reached 8%.
Hospitality Spends Billions on Energy Each Year (but Is Chipping Away at That Number)
The hospitality sector in the US includes more than 3.3 billion square feet of hotel floor area that encompass nearly 5 million guest rooms and results in $5.3 billion annual energy spend, the BBA wrote in its Better Buildings Progress Report 2017. It is estimated that the hospitality and lodging industry accounts for 15% of total commercial and institutional water expenditure in the country. Partners have found that improving energy and water efficiency has reduced operational costs while also improving the comfort and satisfaction of customers.
In addition to MGM’s energy savings of 8%, the BBA’s other “Challenge Partners” with the greatest energy savings in the hospitality sector include Las Vegas Sands Corporation (17%), Whydham Worldwide (13%), Loews Hotels (13%), HEI Hotels & Resorts (11%), and Saunders Hotel Group (9%).
A few examples of how these companies are reducing energy costs include:
–InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) expanded efficiency efforts to include water, particularly in water-sensitive regions. Loews combines low-cost and cap-ex projects to achieve the greatest savings. IHG distributes water-saving toolkits to franchises as part of an effort to reduce water use by 12% per occupied room in water-stressed regions.
–Wyndham Worldwide Super 8 Ukiah, CA, franchisee implemented lighting, envelope, guest room, laundry upgrades, and operational improvements that resulted in 27% annual energy savings and Energy Star certification from 2011 to 2017.
–HEI Hotels & Resorts engaged employees by selecting “energy buddies” within each hotel department to be responsible for day-to-day implementation and validation of the energy conservation measures using department-specific checklists. Implementation of the program has contributed to 5% annual energy cost savings across HEI’s portfolio.
–Loews Hotels recognizes a top property engineer with the Gold Wrench Award each year for excellent performance, including managing and improving energy and water performance at the hotel, which helped drive 13% portfolio savings for Loews Hotels since 2012.