Our Theme Parks
January 30, 2020
Universal Destinations & Experiences welcomes millions of visitors every year at its Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood vacation destinations. The company recognizes how important it is to be environmentally responsible for both good citizenship and good business. Sustainability initiatives are broad throughout operations but focus on three main areas – energy, water, and waste.
LED lighting fixtures have been expanded throughout operations in both Orlando and Hollywood, saving millions of kilowatt hours annually – enough electricity to power hundreds of American homes every year. Beyond lighting, energy conservation is top of mind when designing and building new attractions, including “The Wizarding World of Harry PotterTM.” Universal Studios Hollywood incorporated energy efficient designs, saving an estimated two million kilowatt hours per year.
At Universal Orlando Resort, energy savings are achieved through Central Plant Optimization (CPO) on the system that provides cooling to all the buildings in its theme parks. CPO allows the chilled water plants to be operated at their most efficient levels with real-time automatic adjustments to the system based on building loads. The CPO program is averaging 20% energy savings for chilled water production at the resort. Universal Orlando has also implemented an experimental system that uses thermal solar to preheat water at Thunder Falls Terrace, a restaurant in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, reducing the need for natural gas water heating by 35%. Both sites also have active capital replacement programs for HVAC equipment and roofing, moving towards high-efficiency mechanical equipment and “cool roofs” that provide better solar reflectance.
The Orlando and Hollywood operations use recycled water when available for landscape irrigation. In addition, irrigation control systems sensors are used to monitor real-time weather data and ground moisture to adjust watering as needed. Universal Orlando Resort also uses recycled water in its chilled water system cooling towers, and Universal Studios Hollywood has installed waterless urinals in some guest-facing and many Team Member restrooms. Combined, these practices save more than 300 million gallons of potable water each year. At Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park, state-of-the-art regenerative media filters are utilized on all attractions, significantly reducing water consumption. Traditional sand filters typically need to be backwashed daily, creating thousands of gallons of wastewater each time. Volcano Bay’s media filters, which ironically come from a form of volcanic magma, can go as long as four weeks before backwashing is required.
Waste reduction is accomplished through the implementation of numerous recycling programs which recover more than 11,000 tons of materials each year. Measures include the collection of food waste, cardboard and recyclables like metal, glass, plastic and paper, pallet reuse and recycling, textiles collected for waste to energy, and material reuse programs. Universal Orlando Resort collects food waste from more than 30 restaurants daily, which is placed in an onsite compactor and then sent to an anaerobic digester to generate energy. Additionally, the resort has its own material recycling facility that separates plastic, glass and aluminum from across the resort daily. Universal CityWalk Hollywood has engaged all tenants to sort pre-consumer waste, achieving 100% participation in the property’s recycling and composting collection programs.
Entertainment divisions at both Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood save and repurpose items from seasonal events each year. For example, Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood reuses about 127 tons of materials each year – including construction, scenic, staging, props, set dressing, electrical, and animation materials.
These sustainability efforts are just a few things Universal Parks & Resorts is doing at its Orlando and Hollywood locations. The company continually demonstrates a commitment to conservation and is always seeking new ways to improve efficiency in energy, water consumption and waste reduction.