Has Sin City become Green City?
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Right? Well, let’s hope that unforgettable catchphrase doesn’t apply to the city’s green building explosion over recent years.
The city that’s known primarily as a playground for high-stakes gambling, spectacular shows, lavish dining, and Elvis-officiated weddings has built another reputation for itself: an astonishing commitment to building green and operating sustainably.
At the end of 2014, Las Vegas boasted more than 150,000 hotel rooms, and that number is only growing. Over recent years, boosted by the city’s move to become more environmentally conscious, developers have incorporated some of the most innovative green technologies. Many of them are as mind boggling as The Strip itself. And it’s not just hotels that have gone green: Restaurants, convention centers, transportation companies, mixed-use developments, even wedding planners have decided to fly the green banner and institute sustainability measures. Several Las Vegas projects have achieved LEED certification, a designation awarded to only three percent of all building projects in the U.S. Just a few noteworthy examples of Green Vegas:
- CityCenter (Aria, Mandarin Oriental, Vdara, Crystals, Veer Towers): Generates its own electricity onsite. The amount of energy saved by a design based on sustainability is equal to the average annual power use of 8,800 homes. The project has received no less than six LEED Gold certifications.
- The M Resort, Spa & Casino: The orientation of the tower faces north and south, reducing the impact of direct east/west sunlight. Natural lighting is delivered via skylights to reduce artificial lighting requirements. In addition, the company provides bike storage and preferred employee parking for alternative-fuel vehicles.
- Encore at Wynn: The building uses a management system that controls outside lighting to respond to nighttime hours and employs temperature controls in unoccupied spaces. Non-potable well water is used for irrigation of resort landscaping and the golf course.
- Sands Corporation (The Venetian, The Palazzo): Thanks to the largest solar thermal system in the U.S., hot water is provided for pools, spas, and domestic use. In constructing The Palazzo, the company used steel with 95 percent recycled content and diverted 42,000 tons of refuse from landfills.
From its LEED-Silver city hall to the conversion of 42,000 streetlights to LED lamps, Las Vegas has truly embraced its “greenness.” Incredibly, the city has decreased its water consumption by 36 billion gallons a year, while adding nearly half a million people to its population.
The message to other growing U.S. cities is this: Please take note of Las Vegas’ efforts to be environmentally conscious and follow its example. Surely it’s worth a gamble?