MGM Grand Casino: Systems, Recycling, and Goals Are Key to Sustainability Efforts


MGM Grand Detroit is one of three casino resort hotels in Detroit and one of four in the Detroit–Windsor area. It is owned by Vici Properties and operated by MGM Resorts International. The hotel opened in 2007. SBN Detroit interviewed Jay Love, vice president of facilities, and Carlton Dennard, director of environmental science and housekeeping, about sustainability planning and efforts in facilities and maintenance. Love said he is responsible for “anything that moves water or air within the facility.” He oversees general maintenance and works to improve processes and services for guests, as well as contributing to the maintenance strategy to extend the life of equipment and assets within the casino and hotel. Denard has been with MGM Grand Detroit since it opened and oversees a team of 250. He is responsible for the game floor and front and back of the house and the cleanliness of 400 guest rooms. Q: What type of sustainability planning does MGM Grand Detroit do? Dennard: In my role – among other things – we are heavily focused on recycling and it’s been a big commitment since day one in 2007. The goals that corporate institutes continually evolve, and we follow their lead. Love: Our corporate leadership team in Las Vegas rolls out a plan for every property each year. We pursue sustainability efforts in line with that.   We’re committed to sustainability and reducing our environmental impact, while also contributing to economic growth in the region. Q: What are some of your current initiatives and goals in sustainability? Dennard: We are working on surpassing our annual recycling numbers. Last year we recycled 280k pounds and we are looking to continually increase these recycling efforts. When it comes to energy, our goal is to convert to 100% renewable energy by 2030. One example of work there is replacing all lights with LED bulbs. When it comes to housekeeping, we use environmentally friendly chemicals and cleaners. Ecolab supplies the resorts with chemicals daily. We also have a Green Advantage Program. If guests are staying for more than two nights, they can opt to reuse towels to decrease the waste involved in replacing towels. Love: The facilities department is working to reduce electrical consumption by 2.5% this year. This is done by adjusting set points to ensure units are not running as long or as hard, installing occupancy sensors, and making sure our mechanical equipment runs efficiently. So, we are really focusing on chillers, chilled water setpoints, boilers, boiler setpoints, heat exchangers, and that type of equipment. We’ve done a lot of preventive maintenance to ensure that the equipment operates as efficiently as possible. Longer-term goals are to reduce carbon emissions per square foot by 45%, and water by 33%. Toward these goals – and others – we have best practices laid out by our corporate office. Q: What are your biggest challenges? Dennard: It’s critical to remain proactive instead of reactive and with a facility of this size, that can be challenging. Love:  Staying in front of reactive repairs to minimize the impact on the operation is key. If a boiler goes down, we need to have a redundancy in place, so we are ready to roll right away. And from a sustainability standpoint again, maintenance and ensuring efficiencies are key. Q: How does sustainability come into play when choosing vendors and partners? Dennard: There is a bid process used when selecting vendors and sustainability plays a large factor in our decisions. Love: It weighs heavily in all of our decisions. We go through a strict and thorough process with the purchasing department to approve all vendors. Also, to ensure all equipment purchased is up to spec and within sustainability guidelines. We will always consider bringing on new and local vendors to continue to diversify and support the economy. Q: How do you think your sustainability work impacts the businesses and communities around you? Dennard: Going back to recycling as one example on my end – MGM is responsible for 17% of recycling in the city of Detroit. I’m proud of that number and looking to grow it. We are working toward collaborating with other casinos in the city to that end. That has a significant impact on the community around us and the city of Detroit. Love: I think there is a huge impact. Any time we roll out a new initiative we try to use local businesses and minority-owned businesses to help the local economy and also to set an example. I think there is a domino effect. I think our commitment to sustainability demonstrates that economic growth and environmental responsibility can coexist, creating a better future for everyone. More about MGM Detroit’s environmental efforts can be found here   Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates on sustainable business practices in and around Detroit.