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October 16, 2017

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MGM Resorts lauded for sustainable energy efforts

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L.E. Baskow

Chris Magee, vice president of sustainable facilities for MGM Resorts International, in the Aria power plant facility on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, explains why the company has received national recognition for sustainability.

Sustainable Facilities at MGM

Chris Magee, Executive Director of Sustainable Facilities at MGM Resorts International explains the reasons why they were awarded a national sustainability award from within their Aria power plant facility control room on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Launch slideshow »

MGM Resorts International has received national recognition for its sustainability efforts across multiple resorts.

MGM Resorts was one of Smart Energy Analytics (SEA) campaign partners, recognized for excellence and leadership in the use of energy management and information systems to reduce energy costs and improve building performance.

The Better Buildings program, developed by the Department of Energy, created the SEA campaign last year. The campaign’s mission is encourage the use of cost-effective, energy-saving building-analytics platforms in commercial buildings nationwide.

“MGM Resorts International was recognized for using an education management information system across 50 million square feet of building space, the largest portfolio in the campaign,” the Better Buildings campaign said in a statement.

Better Buildings also noted the company’s monitoring of everyday work processes, retrofits and significant maintenance cost savings.

Although they didn't focus on sustainable-energy initiatives looking to get awards, MGM Resorts officials said receiving the recognition is important.

“It validates what we’re doing, and it also compares us to other big participants in the program as well,” said Chris Magee, the company’s vice president of sustainable facilities, Corporate Sustainability Division. “For us it goes back to the reasons we joined (the Better Buildings program) is to educate and provide that information.”

The four other entities included were Emory University in Atlanta; Salt Lake City; Sprint in collaboration with CBRE; and the University of California, Davis.

With its advanced monitoring system, the central energy plant at Aria in CityCenter played a key role in MGM Resorts’ honor.

The plant uses recycled heat to provide hot water to several facilities and to heat pools at some MGM Resorts hotels.

“This is the probably the smartest system was have in any of our buildings,” Magee said. “It controls all the heating and cooling and everything that’s tied to it.”

The heating and cooling, including water for Aria, Vdara, Crystals and T-Mobile Arena, is produced at the Aria plant.

With employees on the clock 24 hours per day, the site is monitored to record the smallest dip and rise in energy consumption.

“For instance, at one of our properties at 3 a.m., we had a line come up and go down (on the energy consumption graph) every morning,” Magee said. “It wasn’t a major issue, but if you can improve just that one dip in whatever issue that might be, the potential impact is significant.”

The rooftop solar system atop the Mandalay Bay Convention Center is one of the company’s most well-known projects. Its reception propelled other clean-energy initiatives.

“I think we almost got hugs from the industry because it was such a starter for so many projects at the time,” Magee said. “There was some stagnation (in the solar industry). But with the launch of that project, it really got that picture across. For us, it was about MGM’s commitment to sustainability.”

Diversifying the company's energy portfolio was key in the Mandalay Bay project, but Magee said education played an important role, too.

“That’s what that project was about, getting it out, showing that it could be done — showing that these rooftops could be used for a different purpose,” he said.

MGM Resorts also is involved in the Better Builder’s challenge, which set a goal of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020. MGM Resorts has reached about half that goal, with 10 percent of its energy costs already cut, Magee said.

In addition to the positive environmental impacts of sustainable energy efforts, savings also plays a big role.

“I worked with a group tasked with lighting and putting together programs and standards (for using less energy associated with lighting),” Magee said. “Specific to our lighting program, we are into changing about 1 million lights out (across our resorts). … The energy being saved from that alone is enough to power Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Excalibur for four months.”

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