Harrah’s Entertainment Bets On Green

0Environmental stewardship and casinos don’t seem to sit well together in the same sentence. Just step foot into one and you are bombarded with that amusement park feeling of bright lights and the sounds of cascading coins – a hotbed of excess, but not exactly the poster child of sustainability, right?

Maybe, maybe not – but Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. is putting $60 million over six years toward green projects at their resorts – and since the formation of their Corporate Energy and Environmental Group in 2003, they’ve estimated to have saved more than 100 million kilowatt hours in energy use – enough to power 10,000 homes each year.


Harrah’s is the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment and has a history of reaching into the community. Guided by their comprehensive environmental program called CodeGreen, Harrah’s developed an employee grassroots Environmental Sustainability Strategy in 2008 focusing on the critical issues of energy, waste, water, and carbon emissions.

The program has been a great success for Harrah’s, their employees and their customers. Some recent highlights include:

  • 1st Among U.S. gaming companies to win a regional EPA Environmental Quality Award
  • 1st Among gaming companies to be a member of the U.S. EPA Climate Leaders
  • 3,580 Tons of paper and paper products recycled in 2007
  • 306.5 Tons of carbon offsets Harrah’s purchased from NativeEnergy to make the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event the first climate friendly poker tournament
  • $354,000 Donated by the Harrah’s Foundation to the Teacher Exchange, a Las Vegas based non-profit that recycles corporate and convention supplies into classrooms and integrates environmental studies into public school curriculum
  • 2 Co-generation facilities that generate electricity as a by-product of heat.
  • 0 The amount of harmful perchloroethylene detergent (PERC) laundry used by the Las Vegas Laundry Facility
  • Founding partner of Team Earth with Conservation International

Focus On Water

This year has been a year focused specifically on water at some of the Las Vegas properties, and the savings have been massive. Some of the savings include:

  • An upgraded laundry facility saves 72 million gallons annually, while increasing capacity by 40%.
  • An in-room water conservation program throughout their eight Las Vegas properties saves 50 gallons of water/day/room for each of the 20,370 rooms
  • 31,500,000 Gallons of water saved annually by installing 3,500 low flow showerheads and 30,000 square feet of sod at Caesars Palace
  • They have reduced water usage at the Rio Secco Golf Club by 23 million gallons annually through using recycled water and other conservation efforts

Environmental Responsibility Through Everyday Innovation

Harrah’s not only has seen major successes with policy and infrastructure changes, they have also created innovative partnerships with suppliers. One example of this is with the new Octavius Tower development at Caesars Palace.

Through a creative partnership with their mattress supplier, Simmons Company, to help reduce the amount of mattresses that end up in landfills Harrah’s will install Simmons’ EverNu mattress tops in 665 rooms and suites. The EverNu is made out of biodegradable oki-tex fabric, can be recycled into carpet padding, and increases the usable life of a mattress from approximately 6 to 12 years, keeping 11 tons of waste out of landfills each year.

Another innovative program reuses waste vegetable oil (WVO) from restaurants for fuel for property vehicles and generators for heating. This program originated in Harrah’s Horseshoe Hammond property, and has inspired other properties within the portfolio to come up with uses of their WVO – including providing fuel for public transportation buses in Las Vegas.

Success Story

Harrah’s has had many successes over the past six years – the numbers prove it, and they should be proud of the leadership they’ve shown within their industry. Harrah’s attributes much of their success to the 40 employee driven CodeGreen Teams assembled amongst their 85,000 employees – and it’s true – the story of grassroots, employee driven movements within large corporations that are the pulse of sustainability is becoming a common one.

But this is also a success in terms of executive management that has incorporated the “CodeGreen” ethos into their “Code of Commitment,” which has then enabled sustainability initiatives to flourish.

Brian Thurston is a sustainability consultant working on research, strategy and policy development. Brian is interested in building awareness and unique relationships within and between corporate, government, and NGO partners. He holds a BA in Literature from University of Southern California, and a MS in Environmental Policy from The Johns Hopkins University.

One response

  1. Brian,
    Great post. I didnt realize Harrahs was doing all of this. I recently covered Las Vegas and sustainability on my blog from the point that I didnt see any casinos doing anything sustainable:

    But I obviously missed Harrahs and their efforts. It’s great when you see companies take action and decide to make a difference, it just amazes me that more companies aren’t doing more of it. Especially in a resource limited place like Las Vegas.

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