Five years prior to the 2015 launch of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the global casino and resort giant Las Vegas Sands Corporation started deploying its own sustainability initiatives through a program branded as Sands ECO360.
But in an industry defined by luxurious guest experiences and lavish amenities, the hospitality giant took its efforts a step further when it aligned its own sustainability initiatives with the U.N. SDGs in order to lessen its environmental footprint, explained the company's vice president of global sustainability, Katarina Tesarova.
“Our goal is to minimize the environmental impact of our operations in host communities, whether it is through improvement of existing resorts or careful consideration for new development,” Tesarova said during the third installment of the 3BL Media webinar series “Aligning Business With the Global Goals” last year. “We look at where we have the greatest environmental impact or opportunity.”
Starting with various environmentally-friendly projects, including switching light bulbs to more energy-efficient LEDs, the Sands began to focus on achieving large-scale sustainability initiatives by 2020 in conjunction with SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).
But before progress could be made, the Sands had to determine which SDGs the company could impact the most. After identifying these areas, the Sands’ sustainability team developed a six-step process that took a “literal approach” to determining its SDGs. After completing the selection process, which was “broad and daunting for a hospitality company,” the Sands decided to adopt specific targets of SDGs 6, 7 and 12, Tesarova explained.
During the planning phase, Tesarova and the sustainability team devised a 15-year roadmap ending in 2030 to give the company and its 11 international properties ample time to achieve SDG-linked initiatives.
For the first five-year cycle, the Las Vegas Sands set these goals: a 3 percent reduction in water consumption on a per square foot basis under SDG 6, a 6 percent reduction in emissions for both resort and ferry operations under SDG 7, and a 5 percent increase in waste diversion under SDG 12.
To convey its progress, the Sands publishes an annual environmental progress report for ECO360. Tesarova explained that her team is working to fine-tune the company's reporting methods to better convey selection and target-setting processes. The ECO360 reports summarize and update the company’s progression as it relates to achieving targets in line with the SDGs.
The company's sustainability team frequently re-evaluates its current and future plans by reviewing new opportunities to address any future environmental issues. For example, the Sands is in the process of developing a strategy that would prevent plastics from entering marine ecosystems under SDG 14 (Life Below Water), Tesarova said.
The Sands’ sustainability framework began with a desire to make achieving environmental sustainability both impactful and practical.
“We looked at where we had an impact or an opportunity, then structured it that way,” Tesarova said. “By setting stringent targets, we are driving progress in sustainability.”
Image credit: Las Vegas Sands/Facebook