Las Vegas, Nevada is known to many as the city of lights due to the numerous casinos and hotels that light up the night’s sky each and every night. Because of the growing need to combat climate change in the United States, all major cities are doing their part to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, including Las Vegas. The city has implemented a number of initiatives, groups, and projects to promote clean technology. Many of the major casino and hotels in the area are quickly started to adapt more environmentally friendly policies when it comes to clean technology to show their support. Listed below are just ten of the highlights of cleantech in Las Vegas.
1 ) University of Nevada – Las Vegas Green Report Card. IN 2011, the University of Nevada – Las Vegas was given a good grade of B on the Green Report Card by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. The university’s one, five, ten, and twenty year goals have set guidelines in relation to where the university wants to be in terms of sustainability. The university has installed a number of energy management systems and just recently completed their carbon dioxide emissions inventory. All new construction projects on campus need to meet LEED Silver Certification standards, the university set up a ride-matching program to promote carpooling, and provide reduced public transportation passes.
2 ) Large Solar Power Tower Set to Aid in Energizing the Las Vegas Strip. Las Vegas is looking to go solar with a brand new 100 megawatt, 540 foot solar tower. It is hoped that this solar tower, thanks in large part to the copious amounts of sunlight received by the state of Nevada, that this solar town will receive anywhere between ten and 15 hours of sunlight per day. The project is known as the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project and headed by SolarReserve. It is said that the project will be completed sometime at the end of 2013.
3 ) Circus Circus Casino is Dedicated to Sustainability. Circus Circus casino remains fully dedicated to sustainability. Recently, the casino was awarded three keys by the Green Key Eco Rating program, which evaluates resorts based on green operations. Some of the highlights include water reduction techniques, replacing over 15,000 incandescent bulbs with fluorescent panels on the Lucky the Clown marquee along Las Vegas Boulevard, updated and energy efficient HVAC technologies, paper waste reduction, as well as raising awareness to employees through Green Fairs.
4 ) University of Nevada – Las Vegas Renewable Energy Center. The University of Nevada – Las Vegas Renewable Energy Center focuses on the application of solar energy as well as energy efficient building design. The center “offers interdisciplinary education, research, and services in solar energy and cost-effective, energy efficient building design. The center is focusing on the application of these technologies to issues relevant to the Southwest, such as its arid environment and considerable population growth.” Some of the goals of the center is to strengthen the renewable energy research and development capabilities in the Southwest and establish as well as nurture partnerships to promote the deployment of competitive renewable energy companies by the private sector.
5 ) Excalibur Hotel and Casino goes Green. Excalibur Hotel and Casino remains committed to the preservation of the earth’s resources via the adoption of practices that are environmentally sustainable. Recently, Excalibur was awarded four keys by the Green Key Eco-Rating program. Excalibur has also been able to reduce energy usage by seven million kilowatt hours just by the replacement of 38,000 incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which are energy efficient. Other highlights include increasing recycling, getting rid of chemical cleaners, and reducing transportation energy and emissions.
6 ) Red Rock Resort, Casino and Spa. Red Rock Casino, Resort, and Spa has been taking a number of strides to reduce energy consumption and aid in preserving resources. Since opening its doors in 2006, Red Rock Resort has taken a number of steps to implement recycling programs and be more energy efficient, including water conservation programs, using LED and energy efficient lighting, and other things that have allowed Red Rock Resort to reduce energy consumption by eight percent since April 2006.
7 ) Las Vegas Begins the Installation of Energy Efficient Lights. Las Vegas is following in the footsteps of other major cities in the United States by switching out their current streetlamps with more energy efficient lighting. In August of 2011, crews started to replace the 6,600 conventional streetlights with LED fixtures. Officials in the city state that this will decrease the city’s current energy bill by around $400,000 every year and reduce annual electricity usage by eight million kilowatt hours. The funding for this project came from $2.9 million in federal energy conservation bonds as well as $400,000 from the Nevada federal stimulus grant.
8 ) Net Zero Home Created in Las Vegas. In February of 2012, KB Home presented its very first net-zero energy home in Las Vegas, known as ZeroHouse 2.0. The home complies with all Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Standards and the company states that the electric bill has been completely eliminated.
9 ) Mandarin Oriental Achieves LEED Gold Certification. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Las Vegas recently received LEED Gold Certification and is the first in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group to receive any kind of LEED rating. Rajesh Jhingon, the general manager of the hotel in Las Vegas said, “Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is known to demonstrate its leadership in the hotel industry. We are honored to introduce a new chapter in our brand’s achievements with the first LEED Gold certified hotel.” Some of the sustainable highlights of the hotel include 34 percent more energy efficient than local regulations, implementation of water conservation technologies to reduce water use by 45 percent, floor-to-ceiling windows to provide additional natural light, use of non-toxic paints, and installation of Energy Star appliances.
10 ) Even More Las Vegas Casinos are Going Green. It is not only the casinos mentioned above that are going green but a whole slew of casinos along the Strip and everywhere else in Las Vegas that are taking environmental stewardship to heart. While large casinos and hotels do not immediately come to mind when people think of businesses going green, many are at the forefront of the city’s energy efficiency and green building initiatives. For example, the Palazzo Las Vegas was one of the very first casinos to receive LEED certification from the United States Green Building Council. Many casinos are switching out current lights for LED lights, energy efficiency appliances, and simpler practices, such as not changing sheets daily unless requested. It is these little things that will cut energy costs and increase profits at Las Vegas casinos and hotels.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He is also author of The 2012 Cleantech Directory. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.