Tag Archives: City of Las Vegas

Municipality headed toward net-zero energy

The city of Las Vegas is looking a bit more green these days. Over the past 26 years, it has reduced its energy costs by $5 million annually and increased the recycling rate to 60 percent. The city recently signed contracts for hydropower and solar energy that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent while increasing the amount of green energy use to 100 percent. It is on track to become one of only four net-zero energy cities in the U.S.

The city started its green transition in 2008 with the receipt of money from the National Recovery Act. However, the project was set into motion three years earlier when former Mayor Oscar Goodman signed a Climate Protection Agreement drafted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to urge the federal and state governments to take action against climate change.

One of the first projects involved changing streetlights from energy-hogging mercury vapor and high-pressure sodium lights to energy-efficient light-emitting diode bulbs; approximately 80 percent of the fixtures have been converted.

Significant in the commitment to becoming green was the construction of the new $146 million City Hall building, which opened Feb. 21, 2012. Designed with advanced energy and water-saving factors including Low-E windows, high R-value insulation, innovative heating and air conditioning and solar panels that provide 10 percent of the total energy, the building was certified by the U.S. Green Building Council with a silver rating under the Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design standard.

Another showcase is the original Las Vegas Post Office, which was acquired by the city and converted to the Mob Museum. During its restoration, the building was gutted and updated with the latest insulation, lighting, thermal windows and air-conditioning technology resulting in a LEED silver certification for a building retrofit.

The city owns or leases thousands of square feet of building space in about 120 buildings throughout the city limits. Included are fire stations, park buildings, and various warehouse and administrative buildings. Many of the new fire stations have been LEED-certified and facilities throughout the city have been equipped with solar panels to offset some of their energy use with sustainable solar power.

All of the solar energy systems on city-owned properties combined provide approximately 12 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy per year.

In addition to generating clean energy, the city has been busy retrofitting all of its buildings with new energy- and water-saving technology. Most of the office building lighting has been converted from fluorescent and incandescent fixtures to LED. And low-flow water devices and toilets have been installed in all restrooms.

One of the largest retrofit projects involved the replacement of all windows and a new heating and cooling system on the nine-story Development Services Building at the corner of Rancho Drive and U.S. Highway 95. Originally built with 1980 technology, the city also installed modern water-efficient fixtures, LED lighting and occupancy sensors that turn off lighting when the room is not in use.

In 2010, the city used over 150 million kilowatt-hours per year, with the current conversions in place. That number has dropped to below 120 million. And despite a 57 percent population increase over the last 26 years, Las Vegas has reduced greenhouse gas levels by over one-third, bringing it down to 1990 levels.

Even with all of the accomplishments, the mayor, Las Vegas City Council members and city staff have not stopped working toward becoming more sustainable.

Starting in October 2017, Las Vegas will receive two megawatts of hydroelectric power generated by Hoover Dam. This energy is not only clean and sustainable but inexpensive. The allocation is the result of a recent federal act that reallocated the dam’s power distribution. The city of Las Vegas was one of the many applicants that were accepted from a number of governmental entities and Native American tribes.

City officials have also signed an agreement with NV Energy to purchase all of its power from the Boulder City II Solar Energy Project upon its completion in January. With this agreement, the city of Las Vegas will become a 100 percent net-zero-energy city. What makes this accomplishment,even more groundbreaking is that the other cities in this elite category have populations under 50,000 and use far less energy than the city of Las Vegas with a population of more than 600,000.

The added solar and hydropower energy also will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent.

On Dec. 6, 2015, the city of Las Vegas received certification as a Four-Star Community, earning 77.8 points out of 100 in the category of Climate and Energy. The city ranked high in the subcategories of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation, Greening the Energy Supply, Resource Efficient Buildings and Waste Minimization.

The city of Las Vegas is also focusing on becoming the net-zero capital of waste. Leaders are looking at ways to compost all of the organic waste, which includes grass and tree clippings that accumulate from parks and green areas throughout the city.


City tries new weapon to fight urban blight

 

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Robert Klein, founder of SecureView, watches a demonstration of the product at an abandoned home near Charleston and Pecos May 5. Photo by Craig A. Ruark, special to the Las Vegas Business Press

 

Urban blight can spread throughout a neighborhood and then down the street to the next. While economics may be the chief cause of urban blight, the visual effects such as boarded up windows, weeds, and overgrown foliage, only serve to exacerbate the problem.

Now the city of Las Vegas is experimenting with a way to keep vacant buildings secure without the stigma of boarded-up windows.

Communities spend a lot of time and money trying to curb urban blight. Code enforcement officers watch for buildings that have fallen into disrepair or abandoned. In most cases, the owners of the properties are sent letters and asked to correct code violations. In some cases, the city has no other choice but to board up the building to prevent squatters from moving in or illegal activity from happening behind the walls. However, it is the boarded up building that signifies that the neighborhood is suffering.

To help diminish the visual effects of urban blight, the City of Las Vegas is experimenting SecureView.

During a May 5 demonstration at an abandoned home near Charleston and Pecos, a team from SecureView replaced the unsightly plywood that the city had used to keep out vagrants, with a quarter-inch-thick piece of recycled polycarbonate that is nearly as clear as glass and 200 times stronger.

The idea behind the SecureView product came from Robert Klein, founder, and chairman of the company. Klein, a real estate investor, was a partner in a downtown Chicago property that was all boarded up to prevent further damage to the building before it could be sold. However, despite marketing efforts, the building was too unsightly to sell.

“One of my partners is an engineer and suggested that we replaced the boards with a clear polycarbonate that looked like windows, and the building sold,” said Klein.

The key to the product’s success is making a house, apartment, or commercial storefront look like the other buildings in the neighborhood, yet secure from squatters and vandals. Without the stigma of boarded up buildings, neighborhood property values don’t decline as much. And, by using a clear product, neighbors, security patrols, and first responders can see inside the building to make sure it remains vacant. Besides being clear, the polycarbonate is 200 times stronger than glass, so rocks and tools cannot be used to penetrate the surface.

To prove the strength of the polycarbonate, volunteers were invited to try to break through the SecureView-covered opening using a sledgehammer. John Egan, a tall, muscular code enforcement officer with the City of Las Vegas, gave several mighty blows to the polycarbonate material. While the sound from each blow echoed louder than a gunshot and brought neighbors out of their homes, Egan only managed to make a few dents in the material.

“We are looking at SecureView as an alternative to plywood to manage the abandon buildings within the city,” said Tom Perrigo, planning director and chief sustainability officer for the City of Las Vegas. “The initial cost is more expensive, but it will save money in the long run by not having to send someone out to replace the plywood two or three times.”

The clear polycarbonate sheets are cut using a diamond-edge circular saw blade and fit into the existing window frame. A metal backing arm is secured to the inside of the building and bolts are used to secure the polycarbonate material to the backing arms, creating a compression fit that cannot be penetrated.

The SecureView product is sold in eight-foot lengths and widths of four-feet for $115, a five-foot width for $169, or a six-foot width for $199. Those costs also include the metal backing arms.

For window openings that are larger than eight- by six-foot opening, such as a storefront window, SecureView can, for an additional charge, heat the edges of two panels to over 500 degrees and melt them together to form a single larger panel.

If an abandoned building is demolished or refurbished, the SecureView system can be removed and reused many times over at other properties, saving even more money for the city of Las Vegas.

Information on the SecureView product can be found at http://www.secureviewusa.com/