When you think of Las Vegas a few things may come to mind. The Strip with a plethora of hotels, shopping centers and clubs –let’s not forget the myth that it is so lit up that it can be seen from space. With nearly 40 million tourists who visit the city every year, you may not think being eco-friendly is in the business model. However, over the past decade Sin City has improved its environmental efforts in a variety of categories.
In 2002, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the region’s water management agency, took action on the drought issue that was affecting Lake Mead, the City’s reservoir fed by the Colorado River and held back by the Hoover Dam providing 90 percent of the region’s water. According to Gwen Migita, VP of sustainability at Caesars, water conservation is one of the core elements of their Code Green environment strategy. To conserve the precious resource, aerators in the sinks and shower heads were installed to minimize water flow and low flush toilets. This innovation uses 1.28 gallons per flush compared to 1.6 gallons. A giant washing machine tunnel was also installed that saves up to 30 gallons of water per room.
In 2006, the City’s mayor, Oscar Goodman, signed the U.S Conference of Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement, to take action to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions as well as constructing new city buildings and facilities buildings to LEED standards.
The City formalized its Sustainability Initiative in 2008 to focus on clean energy, recycling, green building, water conservation and promoting alternative transportation.
The City initiated renewable energy by constructing solar roofing and parking at City fire stations, parks, community centers and other facilities. After two years of construction, the City anticipates providing energy between 25-40 percent of each facilities needs and costs. Over 42,000 streetlights were replaced with LED saving $300,000. MGM Resorts was recently in the spot light for its Mandalay Bay Resort Convention being the nation’s second largest rooftop solar array. The system includes 20,000 rooftop panels which produces 6.2 megawatts of energy.
As for more noticeable eco-friendly changes, The Sands Corp installed occupancy sensors that sync with the thermostat to regulate the in-room temperature. A master switch is located in every room that allows guests to turn off all of a room’s lights at once.
Recycling and alternative transportation is in full force. The Cashman Center and Las Vegas Convention Center recycled 68 percent of materials. Among other city facilities the recycling rate increased from 13% to 55%. You can image the food waste problem throughout the Strip’s resorts. Uneaten food and organic waste is sent to a local farm to use to feed pigs. As for alt-fuel transportation, the City’s Public Works Department is updating its Downtown Centennial Plan to promote walking, bicycling, complete streets and community connectivity. Right now there is 50 miles of trails and 400 miles of bike lanes.
I have only mentioned just a few of the sustainable efforts Las Vegas is contributing to. There are many other environmental impacts the City is participating in. It shows the City is slowly building a path from gambling to sustainability.
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