Hotel sustainability will be in the national spotlight on television beginning May 26 on Showtime. It is then, at 8 p.m. EST, that sustainability consultant Scott Miller will be featured along with Caesars Entertainment Corp. on Showtime’s nine-part series, “Years of Living Dangerously.” The series was produced by executive producers including James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and five others. The show on which Miller appears was produced by Joel Bach and David Gelber. There are 14 correspondents who conduct interviews during the series. Among them are Lesley Stahl, Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, and Jessica Alba. Miller was interviewed by Jessica Alba.
Miller, who is currently a Manager of Business Development for MindClick Global, took an interesting career path leading up to his appearance on the Showtime series. He grew up in Los Angeles and earned a BA in Economics from the University of California, San Diego. He moved to New York City in 2001 where he began a career in finance at AXA Equitable and later OppenheimerFunds. When Miller watched the Gulf oil explosion on April 20, 2010 on CNN, he was inspired to leave the finance world and dedicate the rest of his life to sustainability. He applied for and was accepted to the Masters in Sustainability program at Columbia University, where he recently graduated.
Early last year Miller applied for and was accepted into the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Fellows Program. He was matched with Caesars Entertainment Corp. in early May. Miller soon learned that he and two others with the Climate Fellows Program had been selected to be followed for the Showtime series. Part of his Climate Fellows Program training was filmed by Showtime. In early June Miller moved to Las Vegas where he spent 10 weeks working on energy efficiency projects for Caesars. A good deal of that time, including a presentation he made to Caesars CEO Gary Loveman pitching his energy efficiency project proposals, was also filmed. His interview with Jessica Alba was filmed in Santa Monica, Calif., in September of last year.
Ten Weeks with Caesars in Las Vegas
Miller says that during his 10 weeks in Las Vegas at Caesars, he never worked harder. He had several projects on his plate and a limited amount of time to get them done. His goal was to identify energy efficiency opportunities in pump systems used in pools, spas and fountains at eight Las Vegas properties. He also worked on two lighting projects for Caesars.
“The first thing I focused on was the water-pump systems,” Miller says. “Caesars had done some upfront work. I went in having to do some intensive research. I investigated the pool, spa and fountain systems. I wanted to fully understand health regulations and requirements. Anything I proposed could not jeopardize health or the guest experience. Whatever I proposed had to make financial sense and reduce carbon. The pool systems were running 24/7, 365 days a year. The solution I recommended was variable frequency drives (VFDs). They are used for a variety of applications—whether pushing water or air.”
Miller says the pumps in the pools at Caesars hotels were running 100 percent when nobody was in the pool. “A lot of times these systems are over-engineered,” he says. “Especially at night it is possible to reduce flow rates.”
Fountain pumps were also investigated. Miller discovered that one can program VFDs to vary fountain flow, even based on wind speed. “Every time you go under 100 percent flow you save energy,” he says.
Miller investigated the possibility of retrofitting 100 pool, spa and fountain pumps at eight properties. He learned that the payback would be less than one year. As a result of his recommendations, Caesars is implementing VFDs across all properties in Las Vegas in pools, spas and fountains.
Lighting Projects Proposed
At the Flamingo Las Vegas Miller worked on a lighting retrofit project—a proposal to convert 150, 1,080-watt HID metal halide lamps around the property to LED spotlights.
“I did a lot of research and conducted lighting tests,” Miller says. “The wattage per fixture was going to go from 1,080 watts to 405 watts. The LED spotlights run a lot cooler. There is less of a heat gain and they are more directable. The 1,080-watt metal halides are like an explosion of heat.”
Miller, who was assisted by Caesars engineers throughout his time in Las Vegas, proposed reducing the number of lamps by half. At this point Caesars has decided not to move forward with the retrofit because of the cost of the LEDs. “It was an uphill battle because energy costs at night in Las Vegas are very low,” Miller says. “My goal was to get a payback in less than three years. I was at 3.8. The ground work has been laid. Now it is just a matter of the numbers.”
The Columbia University graduate also proposed changing the lighting of the Paris Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower Experience. “I proposed retrofitting that tower with color-changing LED lights,” Miller says. “The lighting could then become a revenue stream.” As it turned out, the cost was very high and Caesars has decided not to move forward with the idea.
CEO Strongly Supports Green Initiatives
It was during week eight of his 10-week time with Caesars that Miller had to present his proposals to CEO Gary Loveman and other key stakeholders. “The entire summer at Caesars was an incredible learning experience,” Miller says. “I negotiated with vendors to obtain pricing. I learned from and partnered with engineers. In the end, my job was made easier because Gary Loveman is clearly a champion of sustainability practices.”
Of his overall experience with Caesars, Miller says he was in “such a zone. It was so important for me to deliver as much positive change in those 10 weeks.”
Those interested in catching the show in which Miller appears (Episode 7: Revolt, Rebuild, Renew) can tune in to Showtime on these dates: May 26, 8 p.m.; May 27 at 1 a.m.; May 27 at 8 p.m. on SHO 2; May 28 at 9 p.m.; May 30 at 9 p.m. on SHO 2; May 31 at 5 p.m.; and June 1 at 6 p.m.
To learn more about the series, Years of Living Dangerously, click here.
This article first appeared on the Green Lodging News website. To sign up to receive the weekly Green Lodging News newsletter, go to www.greenlodgingnews.com. Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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