Green Building in Vegas, Stays in Vegas


CityCenter's people mover flies from ped-friendly area to Monte Carlo, Crystals and Bellagio resorts.Photos courtesy of CityCenter

After local ordinances have gone back and forth on huge tax incentives for green construction in Las Vegas, Nevada, the famed Strip will soon be home to what it's calling "one of the world's largest sustainable developments," the CityCenter. Will an eco-theme park soon follow?
LEED-rated multi-use mega-development in Vegas defies the times.

How a dramatic complex of hi-rises, covering 18 million square feet, is green seems questionable, even if everything from materials to guest amenities is eco-friendly. In an economy that finds other casino hotels suspending completion, existing hotels practically giving rooms away, and the local housing boom gone bust, the shimmering CityCenter stands poised to open in December 2009, Though it's hit some hurdles along the way, such as truncating one tower due to a rebar installation mistake.

Basically, an urban metropolis spreading across 67 acres, designed by eight architects, this adventure between MGM Mirage and Infinity World Development Corps (Dubai World), CityCenter consists of:

• ARIA, a 61-story, 4,004-room gaming resort
• A Mandarin Oriental and Vdara Hotel, a lux non-gaming hotels
• Veer Towers, residential buildings
• Crystals, a 500,000-square-foot retail and entertainment district
• Harmon, a 400-room boutique hotel


One of a fleet of 26 stretch Lincoln Town Car limos powered by compressed natural gas.

CityCenter's extensive list of energy-efficient initiatives intends to lower its carbon footprint, equal to powering 7,700 households annually. Considering its hotels and residences total 6,804 units, that mean a savings for only 896 households. But parts of its environmental operations are significant and aligned with the reuse and recycle concept (if not "reduce") with 95% of construction waste avoiding landfills. Some highlights include:

• 8.5 megawatt natural-gas cogeneration plant for electricity, using "waste heat" for hot water
• Water conservation that saves between 32% and 39% inside, 60% with drought-tolerant landscaping landscaping
• Fleet of stretch limos powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)
• Slot machine bases have a/c units, cooling guests from the ground up, rather than ceiling down cooling of empty space

When the Boardwalk Hotel was imploded to make way for CityCenter, 80% of the structure was recycled, with crushed blocks reused in dust abatement, in concrete aggregate and asphalt. Bathroom fixtures were shipped to other countries for reuse, wrapped in the old Boardwalk's curtains and carpets as packing materials. Other green ideas include, farm-to-table meals, paraben-free spa products, and even reclaimed silver artworks.

While questioning some greenwashing (i.e.: recycled polyester staff uniforms?), I also don't fault corporations on using sustainability in PR campaigns as a step in the right direction. My guess is that the motivation for garnering gold and silver LEED ratings is the aforementioned tax credits, even if now reduced, and an effort to standout among many competitors. But it's probably a stretch that this colossal addition to the desert is a (self-proclaimed) "poster child of sustainability."

Of course, it boasts a batch of "first-evers," but one interesting aspect is that CityCenter employees attend LEED training about green initiatives and its massive effort has paved the way for other businesses to build sustainably. If we're lucky.

More on the greening of Vegas:
CES 2009: Toxic TV Zombies Invade Las Vegas
Living For The Greater Green In Las Vegas: The Art Of Lawn Styling
Las Vegas Strip Could Run Dry by 2021
Eco:friendly Casino Tables?

Tags: Construction | Green Building | Recycled Building Materials