Guest Blogger: Nalin Bhatia, MS (Sustainable Systems), MS (Human Computer Interaction) ’18 (Sustainability Intern at Las Vegas Sands Corp.)
I got the opportunity to work at one of the largest players for sustainability in the hospitality industry – Las Vegas Sands Corp. at their headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada. The property consists of two giant integrated resorts – The Venetain and The Palazzo consisting a total of 4,049 rooms and 3,068 suites and a 120,000-square-foot casino; and the Sands Expo and Convention Center which hosts some the largest conventions around the world. Additionally, they have three other properties in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Singapore and Macau[i].
One of the key visions of the company is their responsibility to the planet, which is administered through the Sustainability Department at each of the properties. The guiding model for the sustainability department is the Sands ECO360 Program built on four key pillars which are: Green Buildings, Green Meetings and Events, Environmentally Responsible Operations, and Stakeholder Engagement[ii].
I was fortunate to be a part of the Global Team Meeting on my very first day of work. Sustainability professionals from all four properties flew in to Las Vegas to discuss sustainability progress of their respective properties and future action items. The very next week, I got to attend a US Green Building Council (USGBC) conference, where sustainability professionals from other Las Vegas resorts were also invited. Topics such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) challenges for integrated resorts, new certifications such as Arc and LEED for Cities were discussed at the conference.
Being involved with the sustainability team for 10 weeks, my work primarily revolved around these four pillars of SandsECO360 program, ranging from research to conducting audits and shadowing team members (employees) of various departments.
The very first task I was assigned was to conduct a comprehensive audit of the back of house of the property. The audit involved identifying type, number and wattage of lighting fixtures installed in each space through the help of architectural plans.
Shadowing Housekeeping staff
This was a three-day long task which involved shadowing the housekeeping staff on whether they are properly following the sustainability guidelines of the such as segregating trash and recyclable amenities, not wasting water while cleaning, utilizing daylight while doing the rooms and so on.
Research and Innovation
One of the main components of the internship was looking into potential future technologies which the company could utilize to enhance their sustainability efforts. I did research and prepared presentations on ideas such as food waste reduction methods, Internal Carbon Pricing, wellness programs etc. Apart from this, I also worked on ideas to promote stakeholder engagement such as sustainability events and workshops for employees, applying for sustainability awards, awareness tips etc.
I was also able to witness many operational technologies which are always taken into consideration while analyzing data such as utility reports, emissions, energy use etc. For example, Solar PV system to heat the water for hot-water tubs, recycling plants, Nano-filtration station, cooling towers, boilers and so on.
Group Project: Room of the future
The internship culminated with a group project where I researched and presented potential ideas and technologies for a future hotel room along with three other interns from other departments. A huge inspiration for this room was sustainability and we covered ideas such as recycling stations, windows with adjustable tint to regulate solar heat gain, green terraces and also incentivizing guests who participate in sustainability initiatives. (Link to the presentation: https://vimeo.com/231330644 ).
Working as a Sustainability Intern in one if the world’s largest integrated resort is a different experience altogether. One realizes that how underappreciated sustainability still is under all the glamour and aura of the ‘Sin City’; but still exhibits a huge potential as an industry where sustainability and environmental awareness have a huge role.