Las Vegas' New 'Green' Central Park


Development in Las Vegas has often been modeled on the Strip hotel-casino, or the all-you-can-eat buffet: more and bigger are always better. Despite an orgy of growth in the nineties, though, even Sin City is starting to look at its resource use and carrying capacity, and adapting greener principles for further development. UNLV's landscape, for instance, is now xeriscaped (disclaimer: I'm a UNLV grad), and green buildings are popping up in the metropolitan area. One of the coolest developments in the works, though, is the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, a $250 million non-gaming cultural attraction that's incorporating some of the best principles of sustainable design. Springs Preserve is the largest commercial straw-bale development in the United States, and is shooting for the green building industry's highest standards:

...the Preserve is erecting seven new green buildings intended to join an elite list of buildings nationwide that already have achieved "Platinum" Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). ...

...The Desert Living Center at the Preserve has taken [a commitment to green building] a step further by using green living principles as the focus of interpretation within its Sustainability Gallery. Many museums today are finding that placing their collections within a sustainable building can yield significant energy cost savings while serving as an effective "lead by example" approach.

But Desert Living Center creators hope their bottom line impacts go beyond energy savings. By imparting practical sustainability knowledge throughout the visitor experience at the Preserve, they hope to tap into a "green movement" that becomes more mainstream and more relevant each year.

"It is a virtual miracle that a city like Las Vegas can exist and thrive in the middle of one of the most inhospitable and resource-poor climates in the world with an average annual rainfall of only 4.5 inches," said Francis Beland, Springs Preserve director. "This anomaly makes the concept of sustainable living a very relevant topic for Las Vegas."

Considering the scope of development in Vegas, this is probably just a small step towards sustainability. It's an important one, as it demonstrates the possibilities of green living in a place famous for excess. Furthermore, as a tourist mecca, Las Vegas can do as much as any place in showing people from all walks of life that sustainability doesn't have to mean sacrifice. ::Las Vegas Springs Paradise via Earth Times via linton at Hugg