Las Vegas: Going Green in the Desert
Las Vegas is the unique and beautiful home to both lush and sparse ecosystems. You can travel 45 minutes in just about any direction to embark on a mini-vacation adventure. From boating, camping, photographing a plethora of wildlife, skiing, exploring caves, kayaking, or just enjoying picturesque scenes you will remember for a lifetime, the Valley will never disappoint. As they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and the residents of Southern Nevada’s thriving cities are taking that adage very seriously. Here, sustainability is the key to conserving the treasures of our desert homes, and this is an focus where Las Vegas has shown considerable advance and demonstrated success.
Since December 2015 Las Vegas has the honor of being considered a 4-Star Certified Community by the STAR Community Rating System, initiated by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the U.S. Green Building Council and the National League of Cities and the Center for American Progress. In their rigorous evaluation, Las Vegas received exceptionally high scores in community water systems, infill and redevelopment, public spaces, resource efficient buildings and public infrastructure, waste minimization, and perfect scores regarding business retention and development, emergency prevention and response, outdoor air quality and regional priorities. Every year we strive to be better and live cleaner.
The Southern Nevada Green Building Partnership for single-family homes began its Green Building Program with Las Vegas in 2007. This encourages builders to go “above code” and build with sustainability and green features. Energy-efficient heating systems, radiant barrier roof sheathing to reflect the sun, low-E window glass, a built-in kitchen recycling bin, a sealed combustion furnace and central vacuum system, or an electric vehicle charging system are just a few of the latest green home features made to save you money and conserve energy. Each single-family home can make a positive impact on the city, and builders are realizing this, with more green features becoming standard on new home builds.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority has given homeowners more control over water conservation and being green by getting rid of grass. The Water Smart Landscapes Rebate Program allows homeowners to receive up to $2 for every square foot of grass removed and replaced with water-efficient landscaping. There are even special rebate coupons for pool covers to counter against water evaporation and smart irrigation controllers to restrict wasted water. Recycling water means that over 75 million gallons per day have been recycled and either used or returned to Lake Mead. In the past 10 years, water consumption has decreased 40 billion gallons despite an increase of 500,000 residents.
Most of Las Vegas and the Valley runs on NV Energy, and energy supplied by the utility primarily comes from either solar or hydropower renewable resources. Through NV Energy’s RenewableGenerations Incentives program, homeowners can take advantage of solar, wind, and hydro projects installed in their homes with the intention to increase sustainability. NV Energy has awarded more than $250 million in rebates through this program.
In 2013, Republic Services of Southern Nevada helped facilitate recycling pickup for homeowners, and all facilities, including parks. As a result, the city reduced the amount of waste sent to the landfill by 30,000 cubic yards from 68,000 cubic yards. UNLV even offers educational opportunities in the form of public outreach co-op extensions that include agriculture, horticulture and community development. There are so many ways Southern Nevadans are working together to make Las Vegas and the Valley the very best it can be through conservation, recycling and renewable resources. If it’s not already, this is just one more of the many reasons to consider making the Valley your home.