In recent years, Las Vegas resorts have turned their attention and focused their efforts on becoming more environmentally conscious. From energy efficiency and water conservation to recycling and implementing greener practices, Las Vegas is doing its part to contribute to the sustainability of the planet.
But it isn't just the resort community "going green." Las Vegas restaurants, convention centers, transportation companies, wedding planners, and several other local businesses are supporting green initiatives and making substantial changes in the way they operate.
Several Las Vegas projects have even achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The process includes independent, third-party verification that a development's design, construction and performance meet accepted high standards for environmentally responsible, sustainable development. Only three percent of all U.S. building projects qualify for the certified, silver, gold or platinum designations.
Here are just a few examples of how Las Vegas is "going green":
Boyd Gaming (Sam's Town, Suncoast, The Orleans, Gold Coast, California, Fremont Hotel, Main Street Station) is committed to protecting the environment and pursuing sustainable business practices. The corporation strives to conserve energy in a number of ways including the use of solar water holding tanks, CFL light bulbs, and air heat recovery systems. In addition, various properties have programs in place to recycle everything from cardboard, aluminum and glass to food, grease and oil.
CityCenter (Mandarin Oriental, ARIA, Vdara, Crystals, Veer Towers) has achieved Gold LEED certification for ARIA Resort & Casino's hotel tower, convention center and theater, Vdara Hotel & Spa, Mandarin Oriental, Veer Towers and Crystals. This marks the highest LEED achievement of any hotel, retail district or residential development in Las Vegas. It is also the world's largest private green development. The Forest Stewardship Council-US honored CityCenter as the best commercial project of 2009 with FSC Awards.
Encore at Wynn Las Vegas was built with a commitment to conservation in mind. The building is equipped with a management system that controls outside lighting to respond to nighttime hours and allows temperature controls in unoccupied spaces.
Encore Las Vegas:
Caesars Entertainment Caesars Entertainment Corporation's resorts are committed to environmental sustainability – investing at a corporate level more than $70 million on conservation projects that have reduced energy usage by more than 170 million kilowatt hours (kWh) and carbon emissions by 110,000 metric tons each year. One such investment is the use of solar and steam co-generation facilities at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Showboat Atlantic City that capture waste heat and steam to create onsite energy, thereby decreasing demand for purchased electricity.
Caesars’ nearly 70,000 employees drive its sustainability strategy, CodeGreen, through innovative environmentally responsible practices; implementing more than 110 large impact conservation projects to reduce water, energy and waste consumption at a corporate level. More than 200 of the company's employees have completed its Green Meetings & Events Certification training program, the only program of its kind in the industry. During the past eight years, CodeGreen programs have resulted in annual savings of 200 million gallons of water and 320,000 gallons of waste vegetable oil among other waste recycling efforts.
Caesars has achieved "industry firsts" in transparency and establishing aggressive carbon reduction goals around environmental and social metrics; earning them more than 50 prestigious environmental awards and certifications.
Las Vegas Sands Corporation (The Venetian, The Palazzo) recently announced that the company's Venetian Resort and Sands Expo and Convention Center achieved Gold LEED certification for existing buildings. The Palazzo achieved Silver LEED certification for new construction in 2008. When combined, The Venetian, The Palazzo and the Sands Expo comprise the largest LEED building in the world. The company recently launched its Sands Eco 360° Global Sustainable Development Program, which oversees construction and development strategy, operational and maintenance policies, development of vendor partners in compliance with green policies, and involvement of employee team members.
The Las Vegas Sands Corporation:
M Resort, Spa and Casino is committed to environmental responsibility and energy conservation and took this into consideration when constructing the resort, which debuted in March 2009. Alternative transportation was also taken into consideration by providing bike storage, preferred employee parking for alternative fuel vehicles and adequate public parking with more than 50 percent under cover.
M Resort, Spa and Casino:
MGM Resorts International (Aria, Vdara, Bellagio, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand Las Vegas, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Circus Circus) recently announced that 11 of its Strip properties were awarded a green key designation by The Green Key Eco-Rating Program, a ranking service based on hotels' sustainability efforts and recognized by such travel services as AAA, Travelocity and Expedia. MGM Resorts' International formed a Department of Energy and Environmental Resources, which focuses on conservation of natural resources, sustainable construction and renovation, waste management, sustainable procurement, and communication and education. Every MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas also has a "Green Team" responsible for developing a strategic plan for sustainability.
MGM Resorts International has introduced the company's first Electric Vehicle Charging Station and the first such facility on the Las Vegas Strip for environmentally conscious consumers. This new Charging Station is located at the valet entrance to The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, between Mandalay Bay and Luxor resorts. Charging service is available free of charge to retail and resort customers driving personal electric vehicles, like the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt. To take advantage of this new amenity, drivers simply pull into one of the two specially designated parking spaces reserved exclusively for personal electric vehicles and plug into the easy-to-use PEP Station to charge their vehicle. Each station has a touch-screen interface that guides users through steps to safely charge their electric vehicle.
MGM Resorts International:
Palms Casino Resort works closely with N9NE Group to make environmental responsibility a top priority, always looking for new ways to reduce the company's impact and further invest in environmental initiatives.
Palms Casino Resort:
Rick Moonen's RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay has installed the KeyKeg wine delivery system to further aid its green movement. This revolutionary one-way wine keg, developed by Master Sommelier William Sherer, is made of recycled plastics and is continuously sanitized and reused by the restaurant, eliminating both waste and fuel that would be used to return the keg to be refilled. As the wine keg is recycled, this allows for less demand on the environment to produce glass bottles, corks, paper labels and wine boxes - as just one keg of wine represents 26 bottles of wine.
LBS: A Burger Joint (Red Rock Resort) offers fresh, non-frozen or pre-packaged, all-natural veggie burgers with more than 26 farm-fresh ingredients. Premiere Meat Company supplies LBS with meat from naturally raised cattle without any growth hormones, antibiotics or chemicals. The cooking oil is recycled into bio diesel fuel via the waste deposit company, RENU that processes approximately 150 gallons of cooking oil into diesel per month. LBS is also one of the only restaurants in Las Vegas to use Heinz Organic Ketchup on the table top.
JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa has created a wedding package that is considerate to the planet by offering a variety of organic and recyclable options. Eco-Chic package elements include outdoor ceremonies on the resort grounds among beautifully designed gardens and waterscapes; receptions featuring Botela linens made from recycled glass or luxury burlap, and Chiavari chairs made from bamboo; soy candles; organic or living floral designs; menus and place cards made from recycled card stock and soy ink; and culinary selections offering local, organic and free trade ingredients.
Las Vegas Monorail offers an electric, zero-emissions transportation system as an alternative to automobiles and mass transit. In 2009, visitors who rode the Monorail aided in the removal of an estimated 2.7 million vehicle miles from Southern Nevada's major roadways, reducing emissions by more than 48 tons of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides over the course of the year.
Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada offers Club Ride Commuter Services, a free program that promotes cleaner, greener modes for getting to work. The program currently boasts more than 260 employer partners and more than 23,000 employee participants, encouraging transit, carpooling, walking and cycling rather than driving alone. The result has been 4.7 million fewer miles driven on Southern Nevada roadways during 2009.The RTC's transit system carried more than 57 million passengers in 2009 alone. The RTC operates one of the newest fleets of buses in the nation including compressed natural gas-fueled vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles. At the start of 2010, RTC Transit launched two new transit lines designed with speed in mind. The first, the Strip & Downtown Express (formerly known as the Gold Line), provides a rapid transit connection between Downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip. The second, the Centennial Express (formerly known as the C Line), is ideal for commuters since it provides a one-seat ride from the Centennial Hills area to Downtown Las Vegas, the Strip and even UNLV.
Maverick Helicopters is the only helicopter operator in Las Vegas and the world to have switched out its entire fleet to the quietest and most eco-friendly helicopter available for the tour industry. The company sold all their old helicopters and acquired 22 eco Star helicopters instead.
Las Vegas Springs Preserve is a green friendly attraction that teaches visitors about the environment and the importance of conservation. Springs Preserve incorporates museums, interactive exhibits, botanical gardens and trails, and showcases working green building designs and other examples of environmentally friendly construction. Seven buildings on the property have achieved Platinum LEED certification and make use of straw bale insulation and rammed earth. To put that into perspective, there are only 13 Platinum certified buildings in the entire United States. These are the first Platinum-rated buildings in Nevada.
Symphony Park is a public-private development between the city of Las Vegas, landowner and master developer, and Newland Communities. Poised to become the cultural and artistic center of Southern Nevada, this 10 million square foot project located downtown is home to The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and surrounded by the World Market Center, Las Vegas Premium Outlets, Clark County Government Center and the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The only project in the state of Nevada to be accepted into a national pilot program for green neighborhood developments, Symphony Park was awarded Gold LEED certification under stage two. It also embodies the essence of land recycling by transforming a fallow brownfield site into a vibrant community.
World Market Center Las Vegas makes it a priority to make environmentally conscious decisions in its own business operations and advocates for the entire trade show industry to do so. World Market Center is currently in line to become the largest on-site recycling center in Southern Nevada, by recycling more than 70 percent of all refuse generated from the giant home furnishings complex. In one six-week period, World Market Center recycled a total of 136 tons of cardboard alone, 24 tons of Styrofoam and 106 tons of plastic.
The Vegas PBS Educational Technology Campus (ETC) is a model for sustainability and green building practices in the Southwestern United States. The eco-friendly building is home to Vegas PBS' operations and production services in addition to its emergency alert efforts. The campus showcases a variety of green technologies including the largest rooftop installation of solar-voltaic panels in the state of Nevada and a geothermal/ground source heat pump cooling system that uses 202 wells that average 425 feet deep. Other green elements include lead-free and recyclable electronics, concrete rather than traditional asphalt parking lots, furnishings that dramatically reduce off-gassing of toxic chemicals and agriculturally based floor coverings.
ACCIONA's Nevada Solar One is an environmentally friendly, renewable utility-scale power solution that creates power with near-zero carbon emissions. The 400-acre, 64-megawatt plant harnesses solar energy to power more than 14,000 homes every year. It is the third-largest concentrating solar power plant in the world and the first such plant built in 17 years. Nevada Solar One represents a major renewable energy success story and has the potential to compete directly with conventional fossil fuel-powered technologies. The plant is located in Boulder City, Nevada.
In tandem with industry trends, customer expectations, and social responsibility, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has made significant inroads toward improving its role in sustainable operations, environmental impacts, and energy conservation.
The Las Vegas Convention Center is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency's WasteWise Program with a primary objective of diverting recyclable materials away from landfills. The Las Vegas Convention Center currently averages a 65 percent recycling rate for all shows, recovering on average 431 tons of cardboard, 302 tons of plastic, 132 tons of carpet padding, 173 tons of mixed paper, 130 tons of various metals and 205 tons of wood annually. Environmentally-friendly cleaning products have replaced over 30,000 gallons of traditional chemicals. Likewise, Cashman Center has recently achieved a 65 percent annual recycling rate and, through a revised landscaping plan of grass reduction, has conserved over six million gallons of water over the past two years. Cashman Center diverted over 22 tons of recyclable materials from the landfill over the past year.
The LVCVA will continue to invest in key areas that improve efficiency and conservation directly related to future energy consumption. Targeted tactics include converting to more energy-efficient lighting, motion sensors to control lighting levels in unoccupied rooms, and temperature sensors to turn off air conditioning or heating in empty meeting rooms and exhibit halls.
Black Canyon/Willow Beach River Adventures hosts an annual ecology drive and shoreline clean-up event. This special initiative has helped remove 22,640 pounds of garbage from Lake Mohave, located less than an hour from the Las Vegas Strip. The River Adventures are certified to environmental standards set by the International Organization for Standardization. Through 2009, more than 32 tons of waste have been diverted from landfills through a comprehensive recycling program.
Forever Resorts Houseboats used on Lake Mead are manufactured to contain such green features as energy efficient lighting throughout, zero water discharge into the surrounding body of water, carbon monoxide reduction through the use of the most fuel efficient engines available in the marine industry, solar enhanced electric systems and low-flow water fixtures throughout.