Author Archives: noelsandberg

Green Line Series Interview | Gwen Migita, VP Sustainability & Corporate Citizenship, Caesars Entertainment

Gwen Migita HeadshotGwen Migita drives sustainability strategy, policies and stakeholder initiatives as well as social and environmental sustainability programs for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment company which holds environmental stewardship as one of its four pillars of commitment.

She sat down with us for our Green Line Series interview this week in anticipation of her closing Keynote at the GoGreen Conference on March 16.


We were pleased to learn that Caesars Entertainment provides economic and social benefits for employees, guests and communities while also advancing environmental stewardship. How is Caesars currently advancing environmental stewardship as a large corporation?

Environmental stewardship has been built into our properties from top to bottom through CodeGreen, our company-wide environmental strategy. For our guests, CodeGreen quietly contributes to enhancing the experience by working hard in the background. Essentially we take care of the environment behind the scenes for our guests, reinforcing that every visit to a Caesars property is a sustainable visit.

We have set aggressive goals in energy, GHG emissions reduction, water and green construction. We’ve been recognized for our efforts and we’ve met a number of our goals ahead of target. For example, we reduced energy use 23.4 % per air-conditioned square foot since 2007. We have an overall U.S. waste diversion of 38% and reduced 28% in waste volume in 2015. We reduced GHG emissions by 28.3% per 1,000 sq/ft of air conditioned space, reduced water usage by 20.4% on a square foot basis since 2008, and began an initiative to replace every light source with efficient LED bulbs in 2015.

We also encourage our employees to “go green” at home. Through CodeGreen At Home, employees are rewarded for their efforts to spread the environmental consciousness learned at Caesars to their homes and communities. The program emphasizes long-term behavior changes to reduce the carbon footprint and make a positive environmental impact. In 2015, employees were awarded an average of $60 in program incentives for completing eco-conscious actions at home. Since inception, Caesars has awarded nearly $180,00 in Total Return credits to employees for sharing CodeGreen At Home projects.

Can you give us some examples where Caesars provides economic and social benefits for communities? What is your proudest achievement on that front?

We encourage employees to take an active role in their communities. Our employee community involvement (HERO) teams at each of our resorts volunteer their time, expertise, creativity and passion to improve people’s lives.

The HERO employee volunteer program was formalized more than 20 years ago and supports our employee community involvement strategic priorities: two-thirds of all programs support seniors, education, environment and health and wellness, while one-third supports the property’s priority impact area(s).

Every one of our 50 properties in the North America and the U.K. has a HERO program and a means to support company-sponsored or individual activities. We reward and incentivize employees to volunteer on an individual and property-wide basis through our year-round challenges and the HERO Stars program.

Every time we open a new property, we look for opportunities to use our passion, skills and resources to help the local community.

Together with families and friends, Caesars team members and team members of affiliated businesses reported over 400,000 volunteer hours to support community causes, many of which are also backed by philanthropic giving through the Caesars Foundation. That’s the equivalent of almost 200 full time employees dedicating their entire working hours to supporting vibrant communities for one year.

We help local communities flourish through economic contributions by taxes we pay, the jobs we create and the suppliers with whom we engage. For every dollar the average U.S. corporation pays in taxes, Caesars pays more than three dollars. This injection of funds enables local communities to enjoy a range of diverse benefits, including support for schools and universities, cultural programs, tourism, and elderly and disabled assistance programs.

What new initiatives and milestones in these areas for 2017? Any exciting developments we can learn about via your address at GoGreen?

We ensure that our meeting facilities offer our customers everything they need to make their events responsible and sustainable through our Responsible Meetings program. To date, we have trained 350 meeting sales and banquet managers throughout our North American properties. Launched last year, our Meetings for Good initiative provides a menu of community-service choices at our venues in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Atlantic City. Meetings for Good facilitates community involvement with local nonprofit organizations in a range of options that can easily be incorporated into any meeting or event. We have found that our customers seek more of this kind of service to make meetings more meaningful and provide a new, engaging experience for their delegates and guests.

Last year, Caesars asked key suppliers representing the largest portion of our supply chain’s carbon footprint to privately respond to the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) survey about their climate impacts. We received 54 complete supplier responses to CDP this year. Of these, 71% of our suppliers responding to CDP’s survey said Caesars was their first (and only) customer to ask them to fill out the CDP survey. We are proud to be helping them move the needle on understanding their own climate impacts while helping us to understand our supply chain’s footprint.

What’s more, Caesars is leading the way in hospitality as the only gaming/entertainment company represented in the CDP supply chain program of more than 75 member companies. We look forward to the industry building more robust climate metrics in their supply chain working with nonprofits like CDP.


Join us at the GoGreen Conference to hear Gwen present the closing Keynote on March 16.

Event Details: The GoGreen Conference, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.

Green Line Series Interview | Ngozi Oleru, Division Director of the Environmental Health Division for Public Health Seattle and King County

Ngozi Oleru Headshot.jpgOur Green Line Series interview this week features Ngozi Oleru, Division Director of the Environmental Health Division for Public Health Seattle and King County. She is responsible for leading and managing the environmental health programs serving a population of over 2 million residents and has been instrumental in bringing a public health and equity focus to the impacts of the built environment both locally and nationally in policy and programmatic roles.

Ngozi will be a featured speaker at the GoGreen Conference session on March 16th entitled Building Healthcare and Business Climate Resilience.


You have been working on health equity for ten years now. Why is health equity important?

The question shouldn’t be why is health equity important, it should be why ISN’T health equity important. Equity should be the norm. Equity is where/how/when everyone gets to participate in life with full access to opportunities and consequences that are distributed not necessarily equally, but equitably. Does everybody need to be the president of a university? No. Does everyone need to be an engineer? No. But everyone should have access to the opportunities for health and well-being to do whatever it is they are called to do. That’s why it is important.

What are some public health policy changes that have been made in the last few years to advance health equity?

A fundamental change has been the adoption of a social determinants approach to health policy; the adoption an upstream, root-cause approach to public health. Are we there yet? No, but that shift has really brought into focus the idea that the definition of health is not just the absence of disease. Most people think of health from a disease/medical model. The shift of looking at health from the social determinants approach has been a real fundamental change which has brought us to the consideration of health equity in a more intentional and hopefully more sustainable way.

How are you creating and increasing health equity in King County? What are some initiatives the Environmental Health Division is working on now?

In 2006/2007, through a planning process, our department adopted the guiding principles: Based on Science and Evidence; Centered on Community; Driven by Social Justice; and Focused on Prevention to guide our practice. As a result, we are trying to be more intentional in the way we are engaging with the community in designing both the policies and programs.

For example, we just launched a new food safety rating system in King County. We made sure to engage limited-English and diverse food cultural groups so we could take into consideration how this new rating system would affect them and their businesses. As a result I think we got a better and more inclusive outcome.

We are also making very intentional efforts to hire for diversity so that the people in our community are reflected in our workforce. It is important that the perspectives that are brought to the table are as diverse as the people who are being served by our programs and impacted by our policies.

For me, the focus on diversifying the workforce, the focus on engaging the community in an intentional meaningful way are two very substantive efforts that are necessary as we work towards health equity.

What are a few things that government agencies and businesses can do to eliminate preventable and unjust differences for people of color and low-income populations?

There is a basic need for people in Government agencies and businesses to understand how structures and systems that prevent and deny access to certain groups of people have been built into our institutions. Understanding that historical context will go a long way to accelerate the dismantling of barriers to opportunity.

Policies about who we hire- how we define who qualifies and who doesn’t qualify for a job- don’t often allow everybody to participate. If a variety of perspectives are engaged when jobs are defined and described, we can take a step towards chipping away at a system that is not equitably accessible to all groups of people.

In King County we have an ordinance that directs our work through an equity and social justice lens. We provided training for our employees to understand what that means and what it looks like. It is imperative to understand the history of where inequity came from. It takes an examination of the way we’ve been doing business. It’s a mindset, a new mindset to depart from business as usual and a willingness to make meaningful change.


The Environmental Health Services department of Seattle and King County focuses on the prevention of disease through sanitation, safe food and water, proper disposal of wastes and toxins, and promoting safe and healthy environmental conditions throughout King County. You can find out more about the Environmental Health Services department on their website.

Event Details: The GoGreen Conference, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.

Interview with Richard Eidlin | Co-Founder, American Sustainable Business Council

Richard Eidlin Headshot.JPGThis past week we had the opportunity to sit down for a Green Line Series interview with Richard Eidlin, Co-Founder and Vice President, Policy and Campaigns for the American Sustainable Business Council.

Richard has worked for 30 years on sustainability, social entrepreneurship, policy, and CSR in the public and private sector. We are thrilled to learn more from Richard in person as a featured speaker and expert at the GoGreen Conference Closing Plenary on March 16th: The Role of Business in Climate and Clean Energy Policy.


You have been a business advocate for a sustainable economy under the Obama administration over the last several years. What are the biggest challenges you overcame in the past year?

One challenge was educating the media that there are a variety of opinions within the business community about what success looks like. We have mobilized thousands of companies who are triple bottom line, or what you might call responsible or sustainable firms, to weigh in on a variety of policy issues. We try to show the media that there are a lot of very successful companies who are making money and are also environmental stewards, paying people well and also paying their fair share of taxes. So challenge number one has been convincing the media by example that the traditional narrative that it’s either clean a environment or jobs is false and you can instead you can do both at the same time.

The second challenge has been working with legislators, both on the federal and state level, and educating them on that same dynamic.  We have been pointing out that certain policies don’t evenly affect all segments of society or businesses the same, and that often policies are enacted that inhibit progress in the part of responsibly sustainable companies. Those are two of the challenges we face.

What were some of the ASBC’s key accomplishments during that time?

I would cite the success we’ve had across the country on improving benefits for employees and workers through the passage of minimum wage increases in a number of states. That has been more successful on a state level than a federal level, but we did succeed in encouraging President Obama to raise the minimum wage rate for contract workers to $10.10. That was the second bit of success on that issue.

Another success has been working with BLab when they first started to get benefit corporation legislation passed in over two dozen states across the country. We were quite active in that campaign.

The third has been a lot of work we’ve done around climate change and the idea that a carbon tax has an important role to play negating the use of fossil fuels. We’ve been addressing the risk that business and society faces from climate change, so we’ve been working with a number of states and the federal government and were able to get both Republicans and Democrats to look at the merit of a carbon tax. We didn’t get any legislation passed, but we did succeed at least in broadening the conversation.

We also have been involved with a number of initiatives on safer chemicals and disclosure on what’s in chemicals that consumers use. I work with the EPA on a number of those issues.

Another example would be helping to promote net neutrality, wherein there is the same price for access to the internet. That was an important issue for a lot of small businesses.

Through the Jobs Act in 2010, we were able to help create some rules that led to the development of crowd funding platforms that were widespread in allowing individual small investors take a piece of companies as they grow.

The last issue looks at this whole suite of what your might call “high road workplace practices”, or “family friendly benefits”, family medical leave and paid sick leave etc, and made a lot of success at the state level. We really raised the bar and made it an important conversation, making the business case that those kind of practices create success in the workplace and are actually good for the economy.

The political landscape will undoubtedly look very different with the upcoming administration. How do you anticipate your role changing in the next four years?

We will look to collaborate with Congress and the Trump administration, and really find alignment. On issues where there isn’t compatibility, we will defend the progress that our constituency has made and argue for a different perspective. It will be somewhat on a case by case basis. Over the past several weeks we have weighed in on some of the nominations that the incoming administration has made and also have been meeting with members of Congress and will continue to do that.

There are a few issues where we think there may be opportunities for collaboration, like with the idea of having more workers own a piece of the company they work in through employee stock owned plans or co-ops. There may be some synergy around infrastructure, but we’ll have to see.

There are lots of issues, particularly around environmental and energy issues, where we are not optimistic. We are concerned that the rollback of regulations, the retreat from our international commitments, doing away with water quality, chemical safety and air quality regulations are all a really bad idea. We are going to be working on that. We will be really involved in what’s going on in D.C., while at the same time devoting some energy on what’s happening on the state level. We will target some states where we think more progress can be made than in Washington.

We are excited about learning your perspective on the role of business in climate and clean energy policy at GoGreen Conference in March. What are the key takeaways/action items that you want our private and public sector decision makers to walk away with?

The states are really important. In the Northwest there is a lot of opportunity for addressing climate change. A cap in trade or a carbon tax are really important initiatives for states that we want states to pursue, and the business community is a critical voice in that process. Sustainably-minded companies really need to step up and their views heard because if they don’t, the rules and policies that get written are not going to be aligned with their values.

At the same time, we think it is important for companies to take their own steps in becoming more energy-efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels. We are looking for companies to advocate for the maintenance of certain good ideas on a policy level. We are also interested in electric vehicles and building out a smarter grid in this country. Energy efficiency is another concern. All of these issues are important to many small businesses and large companies, so we will potentially call on companies to get involved and to recognize that there are a lot of good jobs that have been created. We are undergoing a major transition in this economy, and to remain dependent on the fossil fuel industry without appropriate investment in clean energy is extremely short-sighted and puts the US at a competitive disadvantage.


The American Sustainable Business Council is a network of businesses and business associations that have committed themselves to the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Profit.  ASBC members believe that sustainable business is good business, and a sustainable economy is a prosperous and resilient one. Find out more about the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) on their website.

The GoGreen Conference, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.