News | June 15, 2018
In a continued effort to be environmentally responsible, Las Vegas Sands’ properties around the world adhere to various guidelines to conserve water in and around the properties. Through Sands ECO360, the company’s award-winning global sustainability program, all of the regions in which the company operates have systems in place to reduce water consumption, making them a leader in sustainable building development and resort operations.
“I’ve been with the company for 19 years and started running the plumbing, pools and mechanicals for all of our water as crew leader,” Jim Albers, assistant chief engineer at The Venetian and The Palazzo, said. “When The Palazzo opened, I became the assistant chief engineer. In my time here, the company has really let us be creative in our thinking and adopting new processes to really conserve our water use. No one else on the Strip does what we do.”
While designing The Palazzo, the underground aquafer that cuts across the Las Vegas Valley from west to east at 20 feet below the surface had to be dealt with for the underground parking structure at 49 feet below street level. The common practice is to simply pump out the ground water into a municipal sewer system. Of the Las Vegas resort properties affected by the subterranean aquafer, The Palazzo is the only one to date to have taken the extra step to save 60,000 gallons of water from just being wasted, finding sustainable and feasible uses for the water. A nano filtration system was the most appropriate solution for treating and storing the unusable ground water for interior and exterior landscaping, cleaning of the pool deck and the street level exterior as well as The Palazzo Fountain, the largest on property.
“The Palazzo’s nano filtration system purifies the ground water, 50% better than what comes out of the faucet,” Albers said. “While it retains critical mineral and nutrients for plant life, the ground water does not contain any chlorine which is even better. The Palazzo is 100% ‘off the water grid’ for its horticulture. We are able to use less municipal water. If we don’t use what is collected, it will just evaporate.”
Through the Green Ideas challenge, an activity that it part of Team Member engagement, a Team Member proposed a water savings initiative in the Team Member dining room where they saw running water to rinse the dishes. In response, the properties installed sensors in the faucets. If a Team Member isn’t standing at the sink rinsing the dishes, the water stops. Infrared sensors detect when someone is standing there to rinse the dishes. By the end of June 2018, Albers says it’s possible that the property will save millions of gallons of water for the year, with a cost of only $500 in material.
“Little things around the properties can make a huge impact,” he said. “Over the years we’ve installed low-flow toilets in all of our suites and low flow urinals in the back of house. This has improved our water flow over the past five years. Last year, the pools and spas used zeolite in sand filters now we found a new product AFM (Activated Filter Media) which is made of recycled beer bottles, where backwash is reduced by 6 million gallons of water per year. For the outdoor water features, water used to go directly to the storm drains but we installed two robot vacuums that don’t remove the water, they just recirculate the water and take out the dirt. We have saved 4 million gallons of water this way.”
At Marina Bay Sands, Las Vegas Sands’ property in Singapore, the Integrated Resort is able to save water by 11 percent in the last two years through scheduling of regular preventative maintenance for all kitchen equipment to prevent leakage and monitoring all food and beverage outlets to track consumption.
“We continuously schedule engagement programs with our top ten food and beverage outlets with high consumption to discuss and review consumption then offer recommendations to save water,” Jack Loke, chief engineer of Facilities at Marina Bay Sands, said. “After analysis, we recommend efficient spray faucets for dishwashing and operational flow. We have also completed two projects on condensation recovery for the resort as well as the ArtScience Museum. The projects repurpose the condensation for irrigation, collecting hundreds of gallons of water.”
While weather in the region plays a part in the water consumption at the hotel, irrigation is controlled using a rain sensor. If it is raining, the irrigation system skips a cycle, saving water. The rain water is also repurposed at the ArtScience Museum for urinals. As the gatekeeper of energy and water usage, Loke said he is responsible for collecting consumption data and flagging any irregularities. The team emails monthly consumption reports to relevant stakeholders to keep them aware of their usage, taking proactive remediation on leaks and deployment of water saving equipment where applicable.
“We are currently in the process of linking up all water meters to our latest Building Performance Analytic Diagnostics system,” he said. “This system will capture any anomaly on high water consumption potentially due to pipe bursts or irregular operational usage. Facilities can then dispatch the relevant team to investigate the issue to prevent potential waste.”
For irrigation and horticulture in Las Vegas, Kent Bagnell, assistant director of horticulture, says the nano-filtration system has now expanded beyond irrigation, where the properties use it in the off-season, subsidizing the properties water intake and capitalizing on gathering as much water possible, making it possible to water all plants at The Venetian, The Palazzo and Sands Expo.
“We face a lot of challenges because of the size of the properties,” Bagnell said. “We have to plant, trim and clean all the plants and plant beds to make sure they look their best. We choose plants that use minimal water and keep run off to a minimum. The properties are 100% on a drip line system, where we have half inch tubing placed in all the plant beds. The drip system is one of the most important elements to conserve water.”