Environmental Commitment Going Strong in…Las Vegas?
What’s the first thing you think when I say Las Vegas? Before you get too far, I can probably guarantee “environmental commitment” was not what you were thinking. I know personally I don’t tend to think green or environmental when I think about Las Vegas. As a matter of fact I was just there over the weekend with my family and between all the new building construction, road repairs and renovations, plus everything being lit up all night long, the idea of much in Las Vegas being good for the environment didn’t enter my mind.
However, the new CityCenter™ wants us to start thinking differently about Las Vegas. The CityCenter, which is part of the MGM Mirage™ group of properties, is looking to get fully LEED® certified. Can you imagine any property on the Las Vegas Strip being that green or environmentally-aware? Well, that’s what the plans are for the new CityCenter. And let me tell you….this new property is HUGE. We aren’t talking about one or even two buildings, there are six major buildings in the CityCenter complex (many of which are scheduled to open this week). The CityCenter was reportedly designed and built all with the environment in mind…sort-of a sustainable community in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip where people could live, work and play all within one “center”.
As an example, their commitment to recycling started before construction even began. When they removed the old Boardwalk hotel in preparation to build the new CityCenter, they didn’t just tear it down, they recycled or reused around 85% of the old building. Why waste when you can reuse? For future recycling, they are set up to recycle materials including paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metals, kitchen grease, etc.
Over 50% of the wood used in the Aria and Crystals was built using wood from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests. During construction a concrete production plant was set up on site to reduce transportation of concrete to and from the property. I’m sure Las Vegas visitors and guests appreciated not having that extra traffic too! Local manufacturers were used whenever possible – most within a 500-mile radius.
In terms of design, one very cool feature is their indoor airflow system – the Aria, in specific, was designed to have air flow from the floor to the ceiling in order to lift smoke up and off the casino floor. Most casinos have air flow from the ceiling down to the floor…which is why the smoke seems to linger. Aria’s design makes for a more comfortable and healthy indoor environment.
There are ENERGY STAR appliances in all the residence/condominium units, low watt lights in the parking garages and non-toxic cleaning supplies are used. They use a combination of window glazing, blinds and light-colored rooftops to help cut down on the energy required to cool the buildings. But that’s not all…they generate their own electricity on site. That’s right – they have a centralized power plant that uses natural gas to create electricity. The emitted heat is then captured and used to heat the water in the buildings, rooms and pools.
In terms of water, low-flow showers, sinks and toilet fixtures were installed to help save an estimated 50 million gallons of water per year at the CityCenter. Native and/or desert plants were used in the landscaping design as they will require 60% less water than traditional landscaping.
Alternative fuel options (CNG) were put in place for the Aria limousine fleet, however they do encourage walking and/or biking especially since the CityCenter was designed to have most major amenities and services available within a 1/2 mile radius. Buses and the monorail are also located within about 1/4 mile of the CityCenter. Guests who bike to the CityCenter, they will have full use of valet services and residents will have bicycle storage facilities in their building. Employees, guests and residents who drive hybrid or electric vehicles will be rewarded with preferred parking. Employees and residents can also earn rewards through Club Ride (a program offered by RTC of Southern Nevada to help reduce congestion and improve air quality).
Now, as far as environmental commitment goes, I’d say the CityCenter has done and is set up to do a pretty good job of raising awareness about the environment and sustainable living in Las Vegas. Did they need to build all those buildings and new hotels in the first place? Well, that’s a different story – but I seriously applaud them for their actions towards making Las Vegas more environmentally-aware!