From their round-the-clock flashing lights to their all-you-can-eat (or throw away) buffets, casinos aren’t exactly known as paragons of green virtue. But as LEED certification now seems to have penetrated to the outer reaches of the known universe, it was only a matter of time until we had a LEED-certified casino, and here it is: Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Ill., the newest casino in the Chicagoland area, has been awarded green certification at the Gold level by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Located “steps away” from the O’Hare International Airport near downtown Chicago, Rivers Casino was designed with a sustainability plan to achieve LEED certification for energy, lighting, water and material use, as well as a variety of other sustainable elements. The casino opened in July 2011, and it would appear that its developers have made good on their green aims for the building, claiming the title as the first casino in the world to achieve LEED Gold certification.
“Achieving LEED Gold was challenging and expensive, but in the long run, the effort will improve the environment and reduce our operating costs,” Neil Bluhm, chairman of Midwest Gaming and Entertainment, said in a statement. We imagine he’s not kidding when he alludes to the costs involved, as the casino features a 44,000-square-foot gaming floor with nearly 1,050 slots and 48 table games.
The casino’s green features include the usual suspects in terms of energy and water conservation, such as LED light fixtures; skylights and Clerestory windows (increasing access to natural daylight, not a typical focus of casinos); low-flow plumbing fixtures and sensor-controlled faucets; occupant sensor-controlled lighting; onsite stormwater treatment; native and drought tolerant landscaping; a white roof, and concrete (rather than asphalt) parking lots, to reduce the heat-island effect; and 90 percent locally sourced building materials.
Additionally, the project diverted nearly 90 percent of its construction debris from the landfill via reuse or recycling, and features a green, living wall to improve what we imagine is already pretty good indoor air quality, as low-VOC paints and adhesives were used throughout. The casino offsets 70 percent of its electricity demand with Renewable Energy Credits, and is located close to public transportation for easy access to Chicagoland residents. (Alternately, green-minded visitors with electric vehicles are welcome to use the casino’s complimentary charging station.)