Sustainable Energy Role Models

Pacific Ocean, CaliforniaSource: Photo by Stephen Roth on Unsplash

In beautiful northwestern California, the Wiyot, Yurok, and Hupa tribes living in Blue Lake Rancheria have created a casino complex that’s a perfect example of sustainable energy in action. By focusing on reducing energy consumption and cutting emissions, they’ve made a huge difference in their environmental impact and are moving toward a self-sufficient energy system. The setup powers six buildings, including a 55,000-square-foot casino, the perfect place for one to learn how to play keno and 102 hotel rooms—over 140,000 square feet of total building space.

The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe is a federally recognized tribe near Blue Lake, California. Members of the tribe come from Wiyot, Yurok, and Hupa lineages, and live on a reservation of around 100 acres. United States laws allow Native American reservations to set their own gambling regulations, so reservations commonly set up casinos as a source of income.

The Blue Lake Casino is a great destination for on-land gambling, because it’s situated in a beautiful part of the country, near both the Pacific Ocean and the scenic mountains. They operate as an all-inclusive luxury experience, with a hotel, dining, and spa services. It’s also a great choice for earth-conscious travelers, because the Tribe is focused on operating in a sustainable way. The entire facility has been optimized to be more environmentally friendly and reduce its carbon footprint.

How On-Land Casinos Impact the Environment

Like any large construction, casinos can often have a big impact on the environment around them. They tend to have lots of big buildings, which lead to increased energy consumption, as well as more waste and emissions. Creating an ideal environment for guests can mean there are high cooling costs, green spaces that require lots of watering, and lots of electricity used for lighting and technology. And, since on-land casinos tend to be travel destinations, they contribute to emissions from air travel and road traffic as well.

Studies show that increased emissions have a direct link to climate change, and that climate change increases the risk of disasters related to global warming, like wildfires and drought. The Blue Lake Rancheria is located in a fairly at-risk area, since it’s in the Mad River flood plain and near several large fault lines. So it’s no surprise that they would take environmental issues very seriously and want to do their part to minimize emissions.

Casinos around the world are making a move toward more sustainable practices, and Blue Lake Rancheria stands out as a great example what a green casino looks like. Blue Lake Rancheria launched a climate action plan in 2008, focused on climate resiliency and emissions reduction. They quickly cut their energy consumption by 35%, and are still working to cut back even more. This has led to fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which means they’re not adding as much to California’s problems with emissions (which are largely due to traffic and high population).

The casino and surrounding community are home to lots of solar panels and grid batteries. The panels take advantage of plentiful sunshine and then store the power they harvest in batteries for later use. These reserves are not only used to power the casino, but useful when they need to recover from disasters, like storms, wildfires, and earthquakes. Since they’re off the main power grid, there isn’t as much concern about outages, and they’re also able to power parts of the community.

The buildings that make up the reservation have also been built and renovated with efficiency in mind, so that less energy goes to waste in cooling and electricity. They use smart systems to fight energy loss and overuse. These sustainable practices are focused on limiting consumption and waste throughout the facilities, minimizing their impact on the surrounding environment and also making wise use of their energy resources.

The Blue Lake Rancheria reservation also has a biomass gasification system, which converts fuel into energy much more cleanly than traditional combustion methods. And, they have worked to develop more sustainable means of transportation as well, with onsite biodiesel production facilities that use their recycled cooking oil to produce fuel. These smart solutions have helped the Tribe move toward lower emissions and greater efficiency, and to reuse common waste products to their advantage.

The goal for Blue Lake Rancheria is to achieve full energy self-sufficiency, meaning they wouldn’t need any outside fuel sources. This would mean they’d be “off the grid” and also able to provide emergency power to the surrounding communities when necessary. This effort has required considerable investment in infrastructure and renovations, but ultimately pays off.

The Blue Lake Rancheria was recognized as one of United States’ 16 Climate Action Champions in 2014. The list included other cities that had made moves toward greener energy and less environmental impact, such as Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and Seattle. It’s part of a larger movement where cities are going greener to do their part saving the planet from the harmful effects of climate change. Every city has taken a slightly different approach, but all with the same end goal in mind—living in harmony with their environment so they can help save the Earth.

Solar power is an eco-friendly alternative.Source: Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

How Else Can We Help The Environment?

The efforts of the Blue Lake Rancheria tribe are inspirational and can be a great example to other on-land casinos or other corporations that want to make a difference. They’ve shown that dedicating time and money to sustainable practices can make a difference. But you don’t have to run a large corporation or own a casino to drive change through going green. Choices that individuals make every day can also contribute to the fight for a healthier planet, and it’s important to give thought to the impact that your actions have on climate change, especially in ways you can’t immediately see.

One fairly straightforward way to help the planet is to change your diet. By eating more local foods or growing your own, you can cut back on “food miles”, meaning less fuel is used to bring your food to the grocery stores and then to your kitchen. But it’s not just where your food comes from—it’s what you’re eating. The meat and dairy industries are responsible for a lot of greenhouse emissions and pollution, so many experts say that a plant based diet is a greener choice. You don’t have to go totally vegan to help the planet, but thinking more about where your food comes from and how your choices affect the Earth is a good step in the right direction.

You can also use resources wisely. Making small changes like buying more efficient light bulbs, updating windows to avoid heat loss during the winter, and turning off air conditioning when you’re away can help save electricity and therefore reduce emissions. If you live in a high drought area, you’re likely familiar with ways to conserve water, like installing a timer on your lawn sprinklers, getting more efficient toilets, sinks, and showers, or even planting landscaping that doesn’t require watering.

Transportation is also a huge factor in pollution and emissions. Walking or biking when possible can cut back on fuel use as well as the exhaust fumes that cause smog and pollution. Take public transit whenever you can—trains are a particularly eco-friendly option because they can move more people using less energy, and many cities are investing in rail systems that run on renewable energy. Air travel has been under fire recently for having very high per-capita emissions, particularly on intercontinental flights. Airlines have responded to customers’ concerns by making to their aircrafts and implementing various green policies, like doing more onboard recycling, charging carbon taxes on ticket sales, and committing to greener fuel sources.

Making personal changes can be a great way to cut back your consumption and impact on the environment. But, to make big changes, supporting organizations and movements focused on achieving higher-level policy and infrastructures improvement is key. See how different non-profits are doing their part to help the earth, by championing environmental research, and lobbying to improve governmental regulations.

Green initiatives help reduce air pollutionSource: Photo by Mladen Borisov on Unsplash

Choosing a Green Casino

There are lots of casinos around the world, so they often look for a way to stand out beyond gambling—whether that’s with a famous chef, an impressive art collection, or upscale entertainment. Nowadays, many are choosing to position themselves as greener options for gambling by investing in their infrastructure and reducing emissions. That can make them first-choice destinations for eco-conscious gamblers.

Choosing to go to a green casino is another lifestyle decision that can make an environmentally friendly impact. You’ll not only contribute less to greenhouse emissions and pollution, but you’ll be patronizing a business that’s doing its part for the Earth. As companies see that more and more clients care about environmental initiatives, they’re more likely to implement them across the board.

If you’re planning a casino vacation in the future, there are lots of different signs you can look for to see how green a given casino is. There are various green certifications for businesses, like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications for building design in the United States or the Institute for Green Business Certification in Canada. Other certifications are focused on waste management, responsible resource use, and energy efficient appliances. Eco-conscious businesses, including casinos, often include this information on their website, so you can always check before booking to see how they measure up.

Las Vegas in particular stands out for having a lot of green casinos, not to mention for being a prime vacation destination for gamblers. Since it’s located in the middle of a desert, they know the importance of reducing water waste and greenhouse emissions that lead to global warming, and they can also take advantage of solar power. Many casinos in Vegas have found smart ways to landscape using less water, recycle more of their waste, and some have even covered their roofs with solar panels. MGM Resorts have been applauded their reduced energy use, conservation efforts, and smart solutions for resource challenges.

MGM Casino, Las VegasSource: Photo by Thomas Haas on Unsplash

Playing Online to Reduce Impact

Of course, a great way to be a greener gambler day to day is to play at a safe online casino like Royal Vegas. Playing at an online casino cuts out emissions from travel and extra energy use needed to power the buildings in on-land casinos. When you play at home, you have access to the same games, like progressive jackpot slots or roulette, without having to travel or elbow your way into the table. If you miss the atmosphere of the casino, you can play live casino games that mimic the feeling of playing at an in-person casino—no matter where you are.

There are few things as fun as a casino getaway, where you can enjoy all the amenities or a resort and spa with all your favorite casino games just minutes away. But if you’re looking for a more environmentally responsible way to enjoy your favorite games, you can practice your skills at the online casino and then enjoy a yearly vacation to a green casino in Vegas or Blue Lake Rancheria for an eco-friendly option. Online at Royal Vegas, you’ll find all your favorite casino games, including keno, roulette, poker, and slots, so you’ll be ready to win when your next destination adventure comes around. When you bet on a healthy planet, everyone wins!

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