Las Vegas betting on green

As a former resident of Las Vegas, I can attest to the obvious: with its air conditioned high-rise hotel/casinos, massive water features, and cookie-cutter gated developments as far as the eye can see, Sin City isn’t exactly a model of resource efficiency. Of course, many places aren’t… but Vegas’ unique combination of resource scarcity and excess of, well, excess creates a compelling case for more sustainable development. Water issues alone demand a rethinking of how Las Vegas can survive, much less thrive, in a natural environment that isn’t particularly hospitable to human habitation.

Mayor Oscar Goodman and other city leaders seem to be wising up to these challenges, and developments like the CityCenter project represent efforts to maintain Vegas’ standing as a tourist destination while recognizing the costs of business as usual. On Tuesday, Goodman announced the next step towards a more eco-friendly Las Vegas: the public/private partnership Green Chips.

According to the organization’s web site, the mission of Green Chips is pretty straightforward: “In response to the needs of the global environment, Green Chips is helping local residents and businesses take real steps to reduce environmental impacts in our own community.” Concrete plans outlined so far (but yet to be formally announced) include low-interest loan programs for homeowners and businesses, a regional summit “on conserving energy in Southern Nevada,” and (of course) selling green gaming chips to raise funds.

Is it enough? Hard to say at this point — Vegas enters this race with some pretty big hurdles to overcome. Those challenges make this intiative all the more exciting, though: if Las Vegas can successfully navigate them, it could serve as a model to other communities. That’s a bet worth taking…

via KVBC and the Las Vegas Review-Journal

Image credit: http2007 at Flickr under a Creative Commons license