The Mohegan Sun hotel and casino in Uncasville, Conn., is the second largest hotel in the state. "They have set the bar high for hospitality in Connecticut with many sustainability initiatives that can inspire others," says Macky McCleary, deputy commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "every casino employee receives environmental health and safety training," an important part of greening any business small or large.
The Mohegan Sun Complex includes the hotel (with 1,176 guest rooms), three casinos, convention center, a 10,000-seat arena and an indoor shopping and dining mall with many specialty restaurants and upscale shops. The sustainability program includes recycling of bottles, cans, plastics, paper, cardboard, newspapers, electronics, used lamps and cooking oil, a scrap-food-to-farm program, water savings and reuse, an energy-efficient lighting conversion program for all parking garages and throughout the central utility plant and many other energy efficiency features.
Steady habits of sustainability
Since 2005, Mohegan Sun has reduced its trash waste by 2348 tons per year. It recycled 1866 tons of bottles and cans, cardboard, scrap metal, paper and cooking oil in 2013. The resort also sends food scraps to a local pig farm and averages nearly 1200 tons diverted each year between 2006 and 2013. The arrangement with the pig farm has daily pickups by the farmer at the casino from a refrigerated area where the food scraps are stored.
Water conservation is also a priority with low-flow fixtures in all facilities. Between 2006 and 2013, they reduced wastewater by 25 million gallons. Producing less wastewater is another example of source reduction at the facility.
The Mohegan Sun hotel has electric vehicle charging stations for guests. Around the complex, Tribal Public Safety personnel drive the nine hybrid vehicles in their company fleet.
The resort's Protective Services department makes use of 20 mountain bikes for security personnel, a choice which not only saves on gas and vehicle maintenance, but also keeps personnel in shape and allows a greater level of personal interaction with the public.
Michael Hamilton, vice president of resort operations at the Mohegan Sun says, "It is … important for us to show our customers that we are an environmentally conscious organization and that we support their sustainability values." In order to accomplish this goal, hotel rooms have occupancy detectors that control heat or air conditioning based on when the room is occupied or vacant. These sensors have provided an energy cost savings of over 4 million dollars, the results of a guaranteed performance contract between 2003 and 2013.
Replacing fixed-speed motors with Variable Frequency Drives provided another energy-saving opportunity. Over 270 fans and pumps were installed with a VFD system, which allows each system to operate based on demand, rather than at a steady rate.
For example, six VFDs and controls that installed on two air handlers in a casino allow fans to ramp up and down based on CO2 levels (which indicate occupancy). Carbon dioxide sensors determine CO2 levels in the return air based on a pre-determined set point. Variable-speed drive fans ramp up or down based on these levels adding outside air as necessary to keep CO2 levels below the set point.
Respect for the Earth runs deep
Mohegan Sun was created in 1996 by the Mohegan Tribe, whose vision statement cites respect for Mother Earth, and a feeling of responsibility for generations to come. The Mohegan Tribe is a leader in Pollution Prevention and participates in the Tribal P2 Network.
Efforts include everything from controlling hotel lighting to a carbon sequestration project in Costa Rica, where the tribe has established and continues to maintain a 100-acre rainforest, estimated to sequester up to 25 metric tons of carbon dioxide per hectare per year. The carbon sequestration program was established to help offset the release of carbon dioxide at the complex.
The tribe is a sovereign nation, with a constitution and an administration. In 2011, the tribe built a community and government center less than 2 miles from the hotel. During this project, 275 tons of construction debris were recycled.
Green Lodging certification in the Constitution State
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection provides hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast inns across the state with the opportunity to become certified as "Green Lodgings." These certifications are listed on the Connecticut Office of Tourism and CT DEEP websites, encouraging conscientious customers to choose environmentally friendly accommodations. Lodgings of various sizes have been certified and then re-certified since the program began in 2009.
The Mohegan Sun was first certified in 2009, then again in 2011 and 2013, showing improvement with each re-certification.
Anyone looking for low-cost recommendations on ways to increase their hotel or business's sustainability will find plenty of tips in the online workbook provided by the CT DEEP. The Green Lodging workbook contains 15 sections that cover waste management, energy, education and everything in between.
Roulette image courtesy of Mohegan Sun.