Green Revolution: Grand Villa Casino’s biogas project

BURNABY, BC—Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby, BC, is the first casino in Canada to switch to purchasing and using renewable biogas with FortisBC.

Grand Villa Casino. Photo by Evan Beer.

Grand Villa Casino. Photo by Evan Beer.

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BURNABY, BC—Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby, BC, is the first casino in Canada to switch to purchasing and using renewable biogas with FortisBC.

To support the development of sustainable energy, Grand Villa Casino is in partnership with FortisBC and the Fraser Valley Biogas Plant in Abbotsford, BC, where renewable natural gas (RNG) is produced via anaerobic digestion—a naturally occurring chemical reaction—of organic wastes from local farms.

The biogas is virtually identical to the traditional fossil-based natural gas. The byproduct of RNG is a clean, rich fertilizer that has been proven to increase harvest. The switch to RNG is a simple one because it allows all natural gas equipment to meet demands as necessary.

This switch will save an annual 1,500 gigajoules (GJ) worth (75 metric tons) of CO2; that’s equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from 10 homes’ electricity use, or greenhouse gases from 16 cars for an entire year.
“It’s a leap forward for us to be part of it,” said Jeff Lee, energy operations manager for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited. 

Part of the new cooling tower installation at Grand Villa.

Part of the new cooling tower installation at Grand Villa.

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“We are a big believer in environmental sustainability. Grand Villa is known for gaming and entertainment, but we also want to be known as leaders in sustainability.”

Grand Villa is a 680,000-square-foot casino which runs 24-7, and includes a 200-room hotel.

Next year, Gateway Casinos is planning to roll out the biogas project at its Starlight Casino in New Westminster and Cascades Casino in Langley, BC.

“The big three total more than two million square feet,” said Lee. “Their gas bills are hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.”

Lee told CLN that Grand Villa is adding a second cooling tower to provide free cooling to the gaming floors. This heat recovery system captures the heat rejected by the building and redirects it to the hot water supply, reducing the strain on boilers and water heaters.

“Normally when we think of adding equipment we think of increased greenhouse gas and energy use,” said Lee.

“Well not at Grand Villa Casino. Waste heat from the new cooling tower will be redirected to preheat the site’s domestic hot water supply. This new tower is the heart of a project slated to save 3,600 GJ of natural gas and 1.1 gigawatt hour of electricity”

“Grand Villa has saved over $75,000 cumulatively over the past 5 years. Our cooling tower/heat recovery project, which is slated for completion next month, is estimated to save over $100,000 annually, in 5 years,” said Lee. This project alone would have saved over $500,000.”

He added that Grand Villa’s parent company Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd., has saved over $300,000 cumulatively over the past 5 years) by implementing sustainability measures across their sites.

Over the past three years, Gateway has implemented the following “green” initiatives at Grand Villa:

o   Installing four charging stations for patrons with electric vehicles —resulting in savings of 1,673 gallons of gasoline or 1,349 kg of greenhouse gas emissions;

o   Installing low-flow aerators for automated faucets;

o   Installation of day light harvesting lighting control;

o   Replacing light bulbs, appliances, and other equipment with energy efficient models; and

o   Implementing single-stream recycling and composting.

These practices also earned Gateway Casino & Entertainment a City of Burnaby Environment Award for Business Stewardship this past summer.