2018 marks 12 years of sustainability efforts at Las Vegas Sands. During the construction of The Palazzo in 2016, while green building was still a new concept to the market, Las Vegas Sands hired a consultant to incorporate sustainability features to the development of the new resort and achieved LEED Silver® for New Construction. LEED Certifications, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design.
“The Palazzo Las Vegas was our first green building constructed according to the LEED rating system and was also the first resort on the Las Vegas Strip to receive this recognition” said Jenny Yu-Mattson, executive director of Global Sustainability.
With new construction on hold in 2008 during the recession, it gave the team a chance to use wat they learned from The Palazzo project and reevaluate their existing properties, looking for ways to conserve, save and operate more efficiently. With the help of the Operations department, The Venetian and Sands Expo became LEED Gold® for Existing Buildings certified LEED in 2010, with a focus on water and energy conservation, recycling and reducing energy consumption. It was the largest hotel in the world at the time to receive this certification.
“In 2010, Sands ECO360 Global Sustainability Program was officially launched and the department was transformed from development to corporate development and sustainability,” Yu-Mattson said. “Once we had completed the properties here in Las Vegas, we incorporated sustainability, modifying what we could and building on our sustainability program. In 2011, we embarked on new efficiency projects globally that triggered an enhancement of the program.”
Sustainability projects included switching various lights to more energy efficiency LEDs, creating a lab to test the bulbs in color, energy, and lifecycle. The lab tested over 2,000 different options, paying close attention to what would work and not hinder the guest experience at the properties. The Sustainability team also began working with Clean the World, a non-profit that collects, sanitizes and recycles soap and hygiene products that are discarded by guests at hotels. Branching out to their other regions, Las Vegas Sands’ sent Las Vegas Team Members to Singapore, where Kevin Teng, executive director of Sustainability at Marina Bay Sands, spearheaded the Singapore property’s Green Mark certification, and Macao, where Rishi Tirupari, director of Sustainability in Macao, a former LEED consultant, is overseeing the sustainability efforts and Sands China Ltd is the leader in sustainability in Macao Peninsula.
“Sustainability was a fairly new concept for companies two decades ago,” Katarina Tesarova, vice president of Global Sustainability, said. “Conservation was a company’s primary goal and it had a strong business case. I started my career in Accounting and Finance where I was tasked to conserve and save money with water, electricity and other resources. My first task when I came to Las Vegas Sands was to revise and build on the current sustainability strategy at that time. I looked at our entire portfolio of properties and analyzed the areas with the largest impact that could be implemented. The early stages were a movement with so much excitement, but there was no framework or strategy on how to do it with all of our buildings.”
As the team moved forward, design and construction costs were evaluated, while still being respectful of the nature of the hospitality business, making sure the customer experience wasn’t compromised and staying true to The Venetian and The Palazzo brand. The developing strategy soon focused on MICE, where there was an opportunity as companies were looking for sustainable events. This began the Green Meetings program.
“We were already doing some things, but we needed to adopt more impactful practices that could really make a difference in our operations and bottom line,” Tesarova said. “Jenny and I made the program unique and added value for our customers. Green Meetings was really important to us and where we could be a real leader in the industry. With Green Meetings, we created the Green Meeting Concierge, a Sustainability professional who coordinates sustainable measures with various departments like Floral and Food and Beverage making sure all facets of a meeting are sustainable.”
The Green Meetings concept was so well received, it catapulted the company as a leader in the industry, gaining recognition. Once Green Meetings was developed, the sustainability program became what it is today. With sustainability experts in each of its regions, Las Vegas Sands launched ECO360 Green Meetings Program making it unique in that it was constant and the properties operated their programs to fit the personality of the property, region, location, and specific needs. This allowed for adaptability to the different environmental issues each region faces.
“We gave properties the freedom to address their specific needs,” she said. “We also established our five-year goals, tracking the progress, evaluating metrics and then set new goals. With new trends always in development, we evaluate each effort to see if they fit our goals then we can establish the methodology to reach our desired targets. With efficiency projects, lighting projects are pretty easy but once you get to more advanced and complex issues, it requires more research and planning.”
The sustainability team continues to keep this same path going forward, making it easier now, knowing what to expect, maintaining their efforts and still excelling globally.
“We professionally grow with each project and deliver value for the company,” she said. “I’m very proud of the company’s commitment to science-based targets and we are the first Integrated Resort to do that. When people look at our company, they see we are not only financially successful, but also successful in our dedication to protecting the environment, and we can’t do this by ourselves. We work with so many different people and departments. We have the best team, they are good people, and they are motivated to make change. It’s a positive environment and we come to work to save the planet!”