Green Casinos – Upping the Ante

Today’s local headline in Boston is about how competing casino proponents are going green – using design principles from green building to increase the sustainability of their facilities. It’s hard to imagine the direct impacts features such as greater natural light will have on users of these facilities. Will better air quality improve camaraderie at the blackjack table? Will the presence of indoor plants improve people’s moods? Will they spend more money if they feel better about being there because the water is recycled? I can’t claim to know anything about design factors affecting gambling behavior, but I do know that proponents are wise to go green, for several reasons, including community support for their facilities, decreased operating costs, 21st century consumer expectations, and importantly, climate resiliency.

Changing weather patterns mean bigger storms – as we saw with Irene and Sandy, and now with the Rocky Mountain flooding. Storms interrupt our power supplies, and casinos need power to operate. Water and other infrastructure is also at risk of interruption in super storms. New facilities have the unique opportunity to build in resiliency. Being more efficient means less disruption when storms hit. And, if weather patterns like this summer’s oppressive heat and humidity continue, large facilities like casinos will need strategies to keep their clientele comfortable, without straining the power grid, and can avoid big power bills with energy efficient cooling systems.

Resiliency is more than planning for extreme weather. It is a way of operating more sustainably, using innovations that lower costs and environmental impact. Resiliency also means being prepared for the unexpected, and casino developers would be wise to incorporate some redundancy in their heating, cooling, electricity, transportation, water and waste management systems. Efficient and green facilities will bring some positive social impacts to their host communities, offsetting some of feared negative implications.