Painting The Strip green, one panel at a time

MGM Resorts International has saved a lot of green money while investing in a green hospitality environment through its Corporate Sustainability Division, led by Senior Vice President Cindy Ortega.

Ortega, a former chief financial officer at MGM, has worked for the $12.5-billion company over 25 years and serves as chief sustainability officer. MGM is the largest employer and taxpayer in the state, with 77,000 people on its staff.

Environmentally friendly programs and technical innovations must be cost-effective if they are to be adopted by the MGM staff and employees.

The Corporate Sustainability Division at MGM has taken some calculated risks with technical innovations that have also been environmentally friendly. The large-scale construction of City Center on the Las Vegas Strip, with architectural innovations influenced by the U.S. Green Building Council and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, came close to the brink of financial collapse during the start of the Great Recession.

Six of the buildings in the City Center development have been certified with LEED Gold ratings, a first for the resort industry. More importantly, LEED guidelines also provided energy-efficient, cost-saving features that helped support building sustainability.

The Aria employs an 8.2-megawatt heating and power plant fueled by natural gas to provide 30 percent of that resort’s daily energy requirements.

The City Center limousine fleet has more than 30 vehicles that are fueled by compressed natural gas instead of gasoline. MGM became the first resort in the country to operate its transportation fleet on CNG by contracting a custom coach builder to fabricate the original stretch limousines.

MGM continues to lead the way toward improving energy self-reliance by installing an 8.3-megawatt photovoltaic solar farm on the rooftop of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center that can provide 25 percent of the electric power required for daily operations.

During November 2016, MGM negotiated with utility NV Energy to disconnect from its electric power grid services. MGM agreed to pay $87 million to ease the impact of the departure on existing ratepayers while continuing to use the utility’s transmission and distribution lines to purchase power directly on the wholesale market from third-party energy providers.

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