Vegas Gambles on GreenPublished August 9, 2008 by OCR Editor
Las Vegas is set to become the unlikely hero of the green-construction movement, pioneering the way in eco-friendly mega-construction.
Green groups may be forced to bite their tongue as Las Vegas, the brightest city on Earth - and arguably the most wasteful - may decide to dim down its building-waste production and concentrate on conservation and green-conscious maintenance policies.
With over 4 casino-resorts vying for the prized LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and incorporating over 100 million square feet of property to be built according to the US Green Building Council's (USGBC) standards, Vegas stands to set the tone for eco-building in the new millennium.
"There's only so many places where projects like these can happen," said Brendan Owens, vice president of the LEED project, run by the USGBC. "Las Vegas can serve as a bellwether for mainstream companies and organizations that are not necessarily focused on the environment to say, 'You know what? These guys are doing it, so can we.'"
But sparking this eco-friendly trend is none other than Nevada state law, which entices construction companies to lean in favor of LEED projects by promising tax rebates of up to 35% for LEED certified projects.
Among the rising stars of the Vegas Strip mantle attempting LEED certification are the $9.2 billion, six high-rise CityCenter complex, the $4.8 billion Echelon resort, the $2.9 billion Fountainebleau resort and lastly, a new tower at Caesars Palace that totals a meager $1.9 billion.
But it isn't just the new projects that are drawing the attention of the casino magnates. Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage are beginning to assess some of their 28 existing properties with the intention of introducing eco-conscious policies, such as installing movement censors to deactivate air-conditioning if no-one is around.
If these innovations continue, green groups may surprisingly find themselves turning to Las Vegas, which oddly means "The Meadows" in Spanish, as their best example in the defense of financially viable eco-construction.