Richard Rudder and Duane Place

Environmental Responsibility and Recreation Coexist

The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park in southwestern Oregon has been undergoing a construction and improvement process for the past several years, culminating in the opening in July of 2008 with the new luxury hotel tower overlooking Coos Bay.  Throughout the process of both new construction and renovation of existing buildings, close attention was paid to the energy efficiency of the designs, in keeping with the philosophy of community held by the complex owners, the Coquille Indian Tribe: “Community is our relationship with all that surrounds us. The land. The sky. The sea””

As members of the planning and construction team, BOC graduates Richard Rudder and Duane Place, respectively director of facilities and maintenance manager at the Mills Casino complex, worked with the designers and the Energy Trust of Oregon to develop an energy efficient operation.

There were two main projects: the casino expansion and the new construction of the hotel tower.  The casino redevelopment, at 11 million dollars, entailed adding an entertainment lounge, café, and conference room, as well as an expanded gaming floor and several other additions.  Rudder elaborates, “All were built using a combination of CFL’s and low voltage lighting. We installed a hydronic heating/cooling system, much more efficient than the wall units typically found in hotel construction, and converted kitchen equipment and domestic hot water from propane to natural gas.”

The hotel tower, a 22 million dollar project, is a seven story, post-tension concrete structure comprised of 92 guest rooms, five conference rooms, a 3,500 square foot banquet hall, a banquet kitchen, a slot shop area, an environmental services (EVS) section and a sales and catering office. “We utilized our two six-million BTU dual-fired boilers, converted from diesel to natural gas, to supply a hydronic heating system and packaged AC units for cooling. Vacancy sensors were installed in all offices and guest rooms, with compact and lineal fluorescents in all spaces including corridors. We also exceeded code requirements with the rooms’ insulation and low-e green glazed windows, and installed low-flow shower heads and toilets,” says Rudder.

During the construction process, Rudder says that all the woody fiber waste was ground and sent for re-use to a bio-mass facility. Metal waste was recycled and removed concrete was used to build a windbreak for the RV park on the premises. Not content to stop there, when the project was completed, together with the food and beverage department they implemented a more ambitious recycling program. In March alone, 3,039 pounds of plastic and tin was recycled – saving projected landfill fees of almost $3,000 per year. Food and beverage recycling also includes the conversion of cooking oil to biodiesel fuel that is then used  in trucks at the tribe’s cranberry operations.

Rudder states, “Since I received the BOC certification, I have been more conscious of – and conscientious about – energy conservation and efficiency. It is always a consideration in design and remodeling in all areas.”

Duane Place, Rudder’s fellow BOC grad, elaborates on this observation. “I attended BOC training during the construction of our hotel tower. The information I gained was very useful in the commissioning and training of staff on all the new systems installed in the hotel and in our gaming expansion areas. It helped me to have a better understanding of the design aspects of energy efficient systems, which allowed me to work with the various contractors to get the best bang for our buck.

“We also used the information gained in the Energy Conservation Techniques training to determine what our energy savings would be converting our property from propane to natural gas, as well as running out boilers on natural gas versus #2 fuel oil. The HVAC Systems and Controls sessions were very useful, giving us a better understanding of existing systems, as well as what opportunities we should look at for further energy savings.”

The Mill Casino also joined Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program as a visionary partner, so that it is dedicated to utilizing 11% renewable energy with the program.  Efficient and responsible energy conservation is a winning combination for the Mill Casino & Hotel.