Las Vegas Sands Give $50,000 Challenge to Students at Sustainability Summit

September 10, 2013

Las Vegas Sands challenged college students to come up with the next breakthrough in sustainable hospitality at the UNLV/Sands Sustainable Hospitality Summit that took place Sept. 9 at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The winning individual or team will receive a $50,000 Academic Achievement Award and will see their idea implemented at the Venetian/Palazzo resorts in Las Vegas.

The summit featured a keynote by Stephen Ritz, founder of the Green Bronx Machine, as well as several panels on sustainable hospitality and urban development.

With green practices becoming a staple of the hospitality industry, the focus is shifting from straight energy and water conservation to social corporate responsibility, according to the panelists. Sustainability is becoming a standard practice.

 “All main hotels on the Strip have very robust environmental programs in place,” said Katarina Tesarova, executive director of Sustainability, Las Vegas Sands.

While average travelers may not be aware of recycling, energy-efficient lighting, water reclamation and other sustainable practices that happen on site, meeting planners and trade show organizers expect them and see them as baseline for planning their events.

“They ask hard questions and help us form our meeting programs,” Tesarova said. Venetian and Palazzo recently received APEX Level 2 designation for green meetings.

Las Vegas Sands offers a Green Meeting Concierge service that helps put together custom programs depending on the planners needs. The company also can provide an Eco 360 Impact Statement that summarizes the event’s impact on the environment and on the community, detailing everything from water and energy used to volunteer hours donated.

Hugh Sinnock, vice president of Customer Experience, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, talked about trade shows taking extra steps to repurpose, recycle and give back.

In its effort to work towards zero waste, International CES, for example, produced more than 190,000 badge holders from vinyl banners from the 2012 show.

All of the interior show signs were produced from eco-friendly Falcon-board material. The Consumer Electronics Association, which owns the show, also donated $50,000 for a solar panel installation for the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada.

Shawn Seipler, executive director and co-Founder of Clean the World, challenged students to performing tasks such as changing a diaper or fishing without access to clean water and soap.

His organization partners with hotels around the world, and several on the Las Vegas Strip, to donate unused soap products to local shelters as well as to a network of organizations working in impoverished regions.

What’s next in hospitality sustainability? Tesarova is researching emerging technologies for converting biomass into energy and exploring efficient ways to power a fleet of Sands’ ferries in Macau with biodiesel from plastic bottles.

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