The City of Las Vegas has a sustainability officer. That might seem like hiring a nutritionist for a candy store or a stand-up comedian for a funeral home, but the city of excess and artificiality appears serious about reducing its energy and water use.
Thomas Perrigo is the city official in charge of the sustainability initiatives. He recently was interviewed for SmartPlanet.com
. Perrigo pointed out that both the city and its tourist service industry are working to change both operations and image. He pointed out that hotels are taking the lead on sustainability by significantly cutting energy use (and carbon emissions) and reducing water use. The efforts are not aimed at influencing visitors as much as it is on saving money. Perrigo mentioned that MGM Resorts and Harrah’s – the two resort/gaming operations that run 80% of the properties on the Las Vegas Strip – have been recognized as top green corporations.
Although the tourist industry accounts for much of the energy usage, it is the residential areas of Las Vegas that consume the most water. Perrigo mentioned that the big user of water is irrigation for residential landscaping. So the city has an education program on the beauties of desert landscaping and the Southern Nevada Water Authority is pushing desert-friendly plantings instead of turf. The authority is providing a $1.50 per-square foot incentive payment when lawns are replaced by native vegetation. It states that over 147 million square feet have been converted from grass to desert-friendly cover, through 42,000 participants, resulting in the conservation of 8.2 billion gallons of water annually.
Perrigo also stated that Las Vegas is taking advantage of its location with substantial investments in renewable energy – with solar power being the top priority – as well as achieving energy efficiencies. The regional transportation commission is even purchasing electric bicycles for city employees to use in place of automobiles for city business.
So next time you emerge from a 70 degree casino into the 100 degree Las Vegas summer to take a dip in a gigantic pool or view a frenetic waterscape, you can feel a little better that at least someone is working on conserving power and water.