Bright Lights, Solar City

After spending a few days in Las Vegas for my spring break, it became clear to me that the glittering city is clearly not a model of energy conservation. With the lack of clouds and intense sun essentially year-round (solar panel central you would think right?), I wanted to see how much energy the city was consuming and whether it was renewable or not.

Albeit amazing and jaw-dropping, Las Vegas consumes massive amounts of power, with more than 70% of it coming from natural gas. A casino can use five times as much energy per square foot as that of a large hospital. What accounts for most of this energy use? Lights. At 30%, this is the largest single item. However, with a business so tied to electricity, many casino's have taken green steps in the last ten tears. 

Look beyond the Eiffel Tower, Black Pyramid and glowing neon signs and you will find the United State's largest rooftop solar array. More than 20 acres sit above the Mandalay Bay convention center which provides the building with 20% of its energy. Furthermore, the Monte Carlo has replaced their boilers for the pool in exchange for plate-and-frame heat exchange units, the MGM, Wynn and Las Vegas Sands will be producing and buying more renewable energy in the coming years, and the Bellagio reduced its energy consumption enough to power 500 US homes. Even the state of Nevada has over 500 megawatts coming from geothermal power.

While I will always appreciate and encourage the use of renewable energy, my time in Vegas and my time volunteering at Lake Mead National Recreation area (home of the Hoover Dam), has enhanced this. I feel like I have seen waste and efficiency at its best (or worst). My brain still hasn't even come to process the amount of lightbulbs that exist within one casino. However, it gives me a little hope to see that Las Vegas casinos are heading in the renewable direction.