Las Vegas Sands Raises the Stakes for Green Development

Las Vegas Sands Raises the Stakes for Green Development

In a town where green building is the latest rage among mega resorts and gaming palaces, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation has upped the ante for eco-friendly development and business operations with the launch of a sustainability program for its properties in Vegas and beyond.

Las Vegas Sands took the wraps off its Eco 360º Global Sustainable Development program on Wednesday. The presentation included the announcement that the Venetian Resort and Sands Expo and Convention Center have attained LEED-Gold certification as existing buildings.

The Venetian, the expo center and the Sands' Palazzo Hotel-Resort-Casino, which earned a LEED-Silver rating for new construction in 2008, comprise what is for now the largest contiguous structure certified under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, according to company officials.

In all, the expo center, which opened in 1990, and the 36-story Venetian, which opened in 1999, and the 50-story Palazzo, which opened in 2007, encompass 2.25 gross million square feet of space, although the LEED certification does not cover the gaming floors in the complex.

The Las Vegas properties served as the incubator for the company's green building and business strategies as well as the launching point for the expanded best practices that are laid out in the Sands Eco 360º program, said Las Vegas Sands President and COO Michael Leven.

{related_content}The program sets standards and principles for construction and development, operations and maintenance, relationships with vendor partners who comply with the company's green policies, and employee teams. For every dollar invested in the sustainability program, the firm saves $4, according to Leven.

"Clearly there are important business advantages to operating in a sustainable manner, but when sound business practices are married with sustainable efforts that benefit the environment and our communities, the impact is immeasurable," Leven said in a prepared statement.

The savings reaped in Las Vegas are already being counted in the millions -- in kilowatt hours of electricity and gallons of water.

Energy efficiency measures at the Venetian, the Palazzo and the convention center save about 73 million kWh annually -- about enough to power 6,500 average American households, the Las Vegas Sands estimates. Water-conservation initiatives, which include fixtures in guest suites that curb consumption by more than 20 percent, save more than 97 million gallons of water a year without adversely affecting guest or employee experiences, the company says. That's enough water for 580 American households for a year.

Green elements and practices in the Las Vegas complex include:

  • A roof-mounted solar thermal system that provides hot water for swimming pools, spas and a portion of domestic hot water.
  • Solar photovoltaic panels atop a parking garage that generate 116 kW of electricity.
  • A building automation system that monitors and optimizes heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting levels.
  • Lighting that's controllable by a master switch in each of the guest suites. High-efficiency lighting throughout the facilities.
  • The recycling of 55 percent of solid waste including glass, plastic, aluminum, cardboard and paper.
  • A partnership with a local pig farm that uses 75 percent of food waste for composting or animal feed.
  • Green purchasing, green office, green cleaning and green laundry practices. In addition to an eco-linen program for guests, the company works with a laundry service provider that uses equipment and processes that cut water use by 72 percent, compared to standard operations.
  • Reuse or recycling of more than 75 percent of construction waste from renovation projects.

Also, in building the Palazzo the steel used averaged more than 95 percent recycled content and the concrete contained 26 percent recycled content.

When possible, materials were obtained within a 500-mile radius of the site. And 70 percent of construction waste was recycled, resulting the diversion of 42,000 tons of waste from landfill.

Aspects of the Sands 360º program have been applied at the firm's U.S. properties and in operations in Macau and Singapore.

Leven said all company properties are to comply with the standards.

The Venetian Resort and the expo and convention center are the latest in a string of high-profile properties to receive LEED certification.

The 67-acre CityCenter complex, which celebrated its grand opening in December, has six LEED-Gold certifications so far. They were awarded to:


  • The 61-story ARIA Resort & Casino. The hotel tower and its convention center and theater were certified by the USGBC, giving the ARIA bragging rights as the world's largest LEED-Gold certified building.
  • The Vdara Hotel & Spa, a luxury property with 1,495 suites and no gaming or smoking.
  • The 47-story Mandarin Oriental, a non-gaming hotel and residence.
  • The Crystals retail and entertainment district.
  • The Veer Towers. The residential development takes its name from its two 37-story glass towers, which are inclined at 5-degree angles.

The USGBC's latest available directory lists almost 100 registered projects in Las Vegas, and does not yet include those that were registered under LEED 2009.

Images of the
Venetian Resort and the Sands Expo and Convention Center courtesy of Las Vegas Sands Corp.