How Caesars earned its sustainability cred with 'CodeGreen'

By 2007, Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman couldn't help but notice that employees at many of the company's properties were showing surprising amounts of resilience and initiative around sustainability. They were coming up with ideas for saving on energy and water and reducing waste, and they were running with them.

Loveman liked the fact that ideas were bubbling up from employees, but he wanted a more comprehensive sustainability strategy.

In October 2007, Caesars unveiled a companywide program called "CodeGreen," the company's first comprehensive sustainability strategy, aimed at organizing and supporting employees involved with projects at the local level.

Under CodeGreen, each resort was directed to assemble a team that would propose and implement sustainability programs at the local level, implement the enterprise-wide strategy every month and help educate their colleagues about sustainability. Resort general managers identified CodeGreen leaders, who took on the responsibilities in addition to their regular jobs. Although participation was mostly voluntary and attracted employees passionate about resource conservation and recycling, many teams also included leaders from key functional areas (e.g., facilities, food and beverages and human resources).

Initially there was considerable confusion and debate about the best way to organize and manage the effort, but the broad goals were clear: Management wanted to reduce consumption of water and carbon-based energy while increasing the company's recycling efforts and encouraging employee and guest engagement. But what was the best way to achieve these goals in a company that had facilities scattered across the country, as well as internationally?

Within a short period of time, two things became clear. First, regardless of initial enthusiasm about CodeGreen, the company couldn't tackle everything at once -- it needed to prioritize and break things down into more manageable projects that people could understand. Second, CodeGreen had to become a broad-based initiative, which meant that operations and bottom-line-oriented people and those who were passionate about improving the environment needed to work together.

Next page: How Caesars' green scorecard took shape