Odawa Casino Resort Biggest Loser in Entertainment Category

Petoskey’s Odawa Casino Resort is owned and operated by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. The resort website boasts of a nearly 300,000 sq. ft. facility that features slots and table games, hotel rooms, indoor pool, restaurants, retail and more.

Odawa Casino Resort’s dedication to energy conservation is reflected in the numerous awards it has won. This is the facility’s third year competing in the Battle of the Buildings Biggest Loser challenge, having previously won second place twice. The resort also was awarded the Governor’s Energy Excellence Award in 2015, which honors Michigan organizations and individuals for outstanding achievements in reducing energy waste. Additionally, the venue received Emmet County’s Recycler of the Year Award in 2016.

“The Tribe’s main goal is to protect Mother Earth by reducing our carbon footprint,” says Dave Heinz, lead electrician at Odawa Casino Resort. Heinz and his coworker, Ron Gatlin have been managing electrical services for eight years, and typically work with the resort’s vendors to set and achieve new energy efficiency goals.

While most of the big projects with lighting have been done, Heinz and his team keep up-to-date on new energy technologies that might be suitable for Odawa Casino Resort.  “The idea is to get everyone on board,” Heinz explains. Energy-saving ideas have come from a variety of staff members including the plumber.   The Odawa team also shares energy strategies with other area casinos.

Heinz attributed this year’s Battle of the Buildings’ repeat second-place victory to several energy-saving initiatives including temperature adjustments to the venue’s five 1 million BTU small boilers, as well as lamp conversions to LED technology. He also credits the resort’s IT department for reducing the heat load on and energy consumed by the organization’s core servers.

Pictured from left to right: Ron Galtin-Odawa Casino Resort, Cheri Holman-USGBC West Michigan, Dave Heinz-Odawa Casino.

Collectively, these efforts resulted in a 3.38 percent reduction in energy consumed over the 2016 calendar year. According to Heinz, Odawa Casino Resort has reduced its cost of operations by over $540,000 a year. Specifically, KWh reductions totaled $396,600, and MMBTU reduction contributed $143,400. The resort has received rebates from Great Lakes Energy and DTE totaling about $190,000. Noting that the facility’s return on investment with the rebates required only 4.44 months, Heinz poses a simple question: “Why isn’t everyone doing this?”

In Heinz’s eight years in energy management at Odawa Casino Resort, the venue has achieved savings of approximately $2 million. Heinz has plans for 2017 that include energy efficiency upgrades to more lights on the property.

Odawa Casino Resort is honored to be part of the Battle of the Buildings Biggest Loser challenge. In speaking of the facility’s repeated success, Heinz says “This gives us confirmation that what we are doing is working, and now we are sharing what we are doing with other companies.”

Published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal
Written by Brooke Parler of Third Wave Coffee