Going Green The New Business Model for Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Strip is known for its opulence, glamour and glitz, for being an adult playground, home to the world's best known casinos, but now it becoming known for being green and where not being wasteful is a key part of the City’s business model. Sin City has been reinventing itself and is has become a model town of sustainability.

Las Vegas is struggling to meet the water and energy demands of its 500,000 plus residents, which excludes the 40 million tourists who visit every year. Nevada is one of seven states that is dependent on the over-stretched Colorado River for its water supply, which is one of the most heavily plumbed and litigated river systems in the world. It is a critical reservoir for tens of millions of agricultural and municipal users from Wyoming to the Mexican border. The river is now in a very serious condition and the death of the river system will have huge implications for every resident, visitor and business in Las Vegas.

As a result the casinos have devised practical methods of saving water. At Caesars, water conservation is integral to its Code Green environmental strategy and it has installed aerators in the sink and shower heads to minimise water flow and low flush toilets that use just 1.28 gallons per flush compared to the standard 1.6 gallons. The Palazzo has been innovative with its water conservation and has accessed the underground stream that runs beneath Las Vegas Boulevard. The water in this stream has been put through a nano-filtration system that makes it safe for irrigation purposes on the property; this has helped save around 5m gallons of water a year.

While the greening of the Strip, which boasts to be one of the highest concentrations of LEED certified buildings in the world, is a very recent thing. In 2005 the Nevada state legislature passed a green building incentive package and since then the number of LEED projects in Nevada has gone from 14 in 2005 to 97 in 2007. Environmentally this has been a big win for the state.

The casinos are attempting to reduce their rather deep set carbon footprint by finding ways to recycle and reuse waste. The casinos generate about 500,000 tons of waste most of which until recently went straight to landfills. Now most places have sorting efforts in place and plastic, paper and aluminium products are retrieved. While, food waste is either sent to a pig farm or composted and the oil used in cooking is collected and sold on to be converted into biofuel. These companies believe that these various efforts help them divert approximately 55 per cent of their waste from landfills.

Yet the Las Vegas resorts are reluctant to directly involve their guests in waste reduction or recycling efforts as their high-end gaming customers are not interested in green issues, they are focused on having a good time and gambling…what these high-rollers don’t understand is that the odds for the planet are not favourable.

Photo Credit: wikimedia