Rivers Casino Portsmouth Receives Green Building Initiative Certification

Rivers Casino Portsmouth made history in January by becoming the first permanent commercial casino property to open in Virginia. The Hampton Roads property added to its historical significance this week after being bestowed two Green Globes by the Green Building Initiative (GBI).

Rivers Casino Portsmouth Virginia gambling
Rivers Casino Portsmouth, a $400 million development, has been certified by the Green Building Initiative. The Virginia casino is the first permanent casino to open in the commonwealth’s history. (Image: Casino.org)

GBI is headquartered in New Brunswick, Canada. The international nonprofit is dedicated to reducing climate impacts by improving the built environment, which is generally described as “the man-made or modified structures that provide people with living, working, and recreational spaces.” GBI says it’s an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that reviews and assesses both new construction facilities and the renovation of existing buildings and interiors.

Rivers Portsmouth this week announced it received GBI certification for its design, which is expected to result in substantial energy savings and reduced water consumption compared with similarly sized buildings. GBI also recognized the Portsmouth casino for its dedication to planting new trees and lush landscaping surrounding the casino.

It’s impressive to be Virginia’s first permanent casino to receive this certification for new construction from GBI. We are proud to join the ranks of our other Rivers Casino properties with exemplary sustainable design and construction,” said Tim Drehkoff, CEO of Rivers Casino Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming.

Rivers’ two Green Globes recognize the casino’s dedication to resource efficiency, reducing environmental impacts, and enhancing occupant wellness, GBI officials said.

Green Casinos

Rivers Casino Portsmouth is one of more than 40 casinos in the US to receive Green Globes from the GBI. Other notable new construction casinos recognized by the GBI include Circa Resort & Casino in downtown Las Vegas, which opened in 2020, ilani Resort & Casino in Ridgefield, Wash., which opened in 2017, and Graton Resort & Casino, which opened in 2013 in Rohnert Park, Calif.

Rivers Portsmouth received two Green Globes, which suggests that between 55-69% of the building has sustainable features. Two Green Globes “demonstrates excellent progress in the reduction of environmental impacts and use of environmental efficiency practices,” the GBI explained.

In Las Vegas, GBI-certified casinos include Wynn Las Vegas, Treasure Island, Palms, Red Rock, Virgin Hotels, Strat, Tropicana, and New York-New York. GBI-certified casinos outside of Las Vegas include the Twin Arrows Casino Resort in Flagstaff, Ariz., Eldorado Resort Casino in Reno, and Montbleu in Lake Tahoe.

Occupant Health Safety

The GBI was founded in 2004 and uses a third-party certification process to assess sustainable features, operational efficiencies, and measures to protect occupant health.

The latter grading condition — measures to protect occupant health — will raise some eyebrows among those who have voiced concerns about Rivers Casino Portsmouth’s allowance of indoor smoking.

Virginia’s 2020 gaming law doesn’t prohibit licensed brick-and-mortar casinos from allowing indoor smoking. That’s because the state’s 2009 Clean Air Act provided exemptions for businesses primarily engaged in gaming. At the time of the clean indoor air law’s passing, Virginia was home only to pari-mutuel horse racetracks and off-track betting parlors.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth responded to the tobacco smoke criticism just a week after its January grand opening by announcing a designated smoking section. Many patrons of the property say smoke continues to linger in the supposedly non-smoking areas.

Rivers Portsmouth officials say the casino is equipped with a state-of-the-art air filtration system that regularly pushes dirty air out and brings in fresh, clean air. Even so, a recent study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that smoke-free sections inside casinos that allow smoking elsewhere still present considerable health risks.

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