MGM Las vegas

Las Vegas doubles down on solar and sustainability

When most of us think of Las Vegas, we think of "Sin City" – neon-lit nights of wild excess, where living for today is all that matters. But Las Vegas is undergoing a well-planned transformation into a city known for both sin and sustainability.

Las Vegas is well on its way to becoming a model sustainable city. From famous fountains that use re-circulated, non-potable water to new solar powered buildings, Las Vegas has quietly become the center of many ambitious sustainability efforts.

Behind the Scenes Approach

But for now, Las Vegas isn't seeking to change its image from Sin City to Sustainable City, and isn't aggressively marketing itself as a green destination. "Most people come here for fun and entertainment," said Marco Velotta, a planner with the Las Vegas Office of Sustainability. "So many don't realize that behind the scenes Las Vegas has become a leader in being green and sustainable."

In 2008, the Las Vegas City Council enacted a comprehensive policy with ambitious sustainability goals, such as reducing the city's carbon footprint by 30% by 2030. Nevada has also committed to investing heavily in encouraging green growth within the state. One such investment is offering incentives and tax breaks for residential and commercial renewable energy projects.

"Solar technology has advanced so much in the last few decades. We are fortunate to have more than 300 days of sun per year."

Solar Power on the Strip

It's true that in a city many associate with all kinds of excess, sunshine is one thing that is almost never in short supply. And MGM Resorts International, which owns approximately 68% of the commercial land on the famous Las Vegas Strip, recently rolled out a new visible cue of the city's move to a more sustainable future.

With NRG as their partner, they installed one of the world's largest solar photovoltaic arrays atop their Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center. It can supply up to 25% of the Convention Center's power needs.

The Lucky
Number is 26,044*

A look at the solar array at MGM's Mandalay Bay Resort, by the numbers:

^ 28 acres

approximate total area covered by solar array

^ 1,340

approximate number of homes that could be powered by annual energy savings


^ 8,400

estimated number of metric tons of CO2 kept out of the atmosphere annually

^ 1,700

estimated number of cars whose CO2 emissions are offset by the array annually


As the use of solar spreads, it's expected that sunlight will play a bigger role in lighting up Las Vegas nights. And the sustainability trend is already growing in other ways, with other casinos engaged in large-scale recycling, water conservation and organic composting projects.

MGM is a leader in sustainability and environmental stewardship within the Las Vegas and Nevada community and this project stands as proof of their commitment

-Ophir Orr, NRG Solar Project Manager

Recognition Will Come

Velotta is proud of the efforts made by the city and their partners in the tourism sector. "We've been able to attract companies from across the world and across the country to demonstrate and prove the benefits of solar." And, he continued, "we conserve billions of gallons of water each year. I think that's a point that often gets missed." He also mentioned that few people know that the Las Vegas Strip now boasts one of the highest concentrations of LEED® certified buildings in the world.

Velotta believes that one day Las Vegas will be known for sustainability. "Over time, once people learn more about what we've done and what we're doing, they might think of us a as sustainable city."

For now, it doesn't bother Velotta that the behind-the-scenes approach is helping to keep the old Sin City nickname alive. But thanks to a commitment and investment in sustainability, that well-known moniker is no longer entirely accurate. Las Vegas is now a place where visitors can enjoy all the fun the city has to offer with a lot less guilt.

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