SOURCE: Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort

March 23, 2010 17:10 ET

Switching to a Greener Tomorrow

Harrah's Rincon Uses Solar Energy to Offset Almost a Quarter of Energy Consumption

VALLEY CENTER, CA--(Marketwire - March 23, 2010) -  The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians announced the completion of a 1 Megawatt solar plant that provides enough power to run approximately 90% of the property's Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and reduces grid consumption, curtailing enough energy to power about 2,200 homes.

The 3,936-panel solar field, which was manufactured and installed by Suntech, will produce enough energy to offset almost a quarter of the casino's total power consumption.

Bo Mazzetti, Chairman of the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, is "grateful for the leadership that the Harrah's Rincon team and the Rincon Tribal Council have shown in creating a green initiative for our business. This is an important step forward in energy efficiency. It is just the beginning of what we, as a tribe, look to accomplish as responsible members of our community who are addressing the multiple energy and environmental issues that currently face all governments." 

As part of this project, the casino's HVAC system moved from packaged units to a chilled water unit with heat recovery capability, resulting in an estimated savings of 3.3 million kilowatt-hours per year. The recovered heat is used to heat the water used in the 662-hotel rooms. "This project has been a 42-month collaboration between the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort, the California Center for Sustainable Energy, Suntech, TRANE and San Diego Gas & Electric," said Brendan O'Kane, Property Operations Manager and Green Committee Chairman. "It took extraordinary vision for the Rincon Tribal Council to take this leap towards sustainability, and we are excited to be a part of this green project. The solar project mirrors the commitment that Harrah's has made to create a sustainable future."

The solar plant and HVAC retrofit are just two of the many green projects that Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort has participated in since starting their conservation and sustainability efforts in 2008. Other projects/accomplishments include:

Conservation

  • Over 10,000 light fixtures were retrofitted with energy efficient lamps in 2008 and 2009, reducing energy demand by 3,318,945 kwh per year -- the equivalent of taking 511 cars off the road.
  • The 662-room hotel participates in the "set back the stat" program, the "uncool" refrigerator program and a linen exchange program, saving thousands in energy costs and hundreds of thousands of gallons of water each month.
  • Employees who drive hybrid vehicles or carpool to work have access to a special "green" parking lot, ensuring front-row parking.
  • All property PCs are automatically powered down after 10 minutes of non-use. 
  • Bright green faceplates were installed on light switches in administrative areas, reminding employees to turn off the lights when they leave. Employees who forget are visited by the Energy Hog, a pesky little stuffed animal pig that no one wants to see on their desk, as it lets everyone know that they forgot to turn off their lights. 
  • On March 27, 2010, Harrah's Rincon will join with Harrah's Entertainment for the second year in "powering down" our property and the world famous Las Vegas Strip for World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour.

Recycling

  • Participates in a recycling program that diverts, on average, over 7 tons of recyclable materials from landfills every week. A food waste compost program, which was started in 2009, diverts over 5 tons of food waste per month from landfills and turns it into reusable compost and mulch.
  • Holds quarterly beach clean-up events which are attended by hundreds of volunteer employees. These employee volunteers are responsible for cleaning up over 8 miles of San Diego's coastline each year.
  • Guests are asked to request their complimentary daily newspaper in an effort to reduce the number of newspapers being wasted.
  • A recycling collection center allows employees to drop off items like batteries, computer equipment, cell phones, and other small appliances, and Harrah's Rincon pays the fee to have them recycled. Since June 2009, they have collected over 1,900 items. 
  • Shipping containers are returned to vendors, where they can be reused and/or recycled. This diverts approximately 150 pallets and containers from landfills every month.
  • Donated assorted furnishings and construction materials to Habitat for Humanity for their San Diego Regional projects.
  • Launched the "Bring Your Own Cup" program which encouraged employees to bring a reusable cup and helped to reduce the amount of Styrofoam being used in the Employee Dining Room by 25%.
  • Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort now uses thirteen Eco-Flexx billboards in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties. Eco-Flexx is a 100% recyclable polyethylene product that has a carbon footprint that is 60% less than a standard PVC flex billboard.

Sustainability

  • Planted an organically sustainable herb and vegetable garden that is used by the culinary team in the Employee Dining Room.
  • Planted over 200 trees and shrubs in an area destroyed by the 2007 Wildfires.

"We are excited to be the first casino in Southern California to use a solar plant to produce clean, renewable energy," said Janet Beronio, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort. "Combined with our other green initiatives, Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort is becoming more environmentally sensitive in the operation of our business."

About Harrah's Rincon
Named one of California's Best Places to Work for 2008 by Employers Group, owned by the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians and managed by HCAL, a subsidiary of Harrah's Operating Company, Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort is located at 777 Harrah's Rincon Way (33750 Valley Center Road) in Valley Center, CA, 20 minutes northeast of Escondido. With approximately 1,400 employees and an identity as a top resort-gaming destination, the casino offers state-of-the-art amenities and the unparalleled customer service that has made Harrah's a nationally recognized brand.