The MGM CityCenter is a huge, 76-acre, city-within-a-city that is under development on the Las Vegas Strip. The designers actually hope to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for this project. With 18 million square feet of building space, CityCenter will dwarf all LEED-certified structures in the United States to date, bringing more attention to green design and possibly influencing still more architects, contractors and manufacturers. But when the first hotel guests stream through the lobby of the 4,000-room resort at CityCenter three years from now, they probably won't notice that the polished wood accents began as wood from old barns across the rural United States or that stonework was partly constructed from an old retaining wall torn down in Britain.
Nor will they dwell on the energy-efficient glass in their hotel rooms, the carpeting made from recycled materials, or that all around them is reused material that came from the casino torn down to make way for the project.
GM Mirage is taking the plunge, however, without full knowledge of what the company's savings will be. One reason is that intangible benefits associated with LEED buildings go well beyond lower utility bills. Recent studies have shown that green buildings not only generate higher rents and are worth more over time, but boost productivity among employees who are healthier in buildings that, for example, exploit natural light and outdoor views.
The trend has been so rapid that by the time CityCenter opens its doors in November 2009, state and local officials say most casino companies and other big developers in Las Vegas will be considering, if not building, LEED-certified structures.
Boyd Gaming officials say they hope to obtain LEED certification for Echelon Place, a $4 billion resort complex to begin construction midyear on the site of the old Stardust casino.
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