Tag Archives: LEED Certification

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.

‘Green’ goals reflected in building trends

Craig A. Ruark/Special to the Las Vegas Business Press At Konami Gaming, the retrofitted 123,000-square-foot existing building and a 193,000-square-foot addition are pending LEED certification by the USGBC.

Craig A. Ruark/Special to the Las Vegas Business Press At Konami Gaming, the retrofitted 123,000-square-foot existing building and a 193,000-square-foot addition are pending LEED certification by the USGBC.

Despite the slow economic recovery, many businesses are seeing “green” as the path to a sustainable future and achieving a LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as the Medal of Honor.

Las Vegas is home to 81 LEED-rated office, retail, and industrial buildings ranging from the basic certified level and up to silver, gold, and platinum levels. Of those buildings, 55 were designed specifically for energy and water savings, indoor air quality and other components that are part of the LEED certification criteria.

In addition, 20 of the businesses in the Las Vegas Valley have taken steps to modify existing buildings to attain a LEED certification and reap the benefits achieved in annual energy and water savings, as well as improvements in employee health, productivity and morale.

Here is a short list of some notable green building projects under construction:

• TJ Maxx operates a 300,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in North Las Vegas. The facility, completed in 2014, was not originally designed for LEED certification. After an analysis of the economic benefits, alterations were made including energy-efficient lighting, heating, and cooling; water savings features; and enhanced indoor air quality. Following the retrofit, documentation was sent to the USGBC and the building was given a LEED Silver certification under the €œexisting building€ criteria. Beyond the savings achieved in the operation and maintenance of the building, parent company TJX Cos. Inc. feels going green is the right thing to do for the environment. TJX is adding another 300,000 square feet to the building, this time designed specifically to meet LEED criteria for the new construction category.

• A 1 million-square-foot Levi Strauss distribution center off Executive Airport Drive in Henderson is nearing completion. While the company is awaiting completion of the building before announcing the level of sustainability achieved, the expansion was designed to take advantage of the latest energy and water savings technology, with a goal of meeting LEED certification criteria for the new construction category. The existing building has been updated and is awaiting LEED certification under the existing building criteria.

• The Konami Gaming building can be seen while driving along Sunset Road across from McCarran Airport, but what is not visible is the retrofit that was completed on the original 123,000-square-foot building under the LEED existing building criteria. A 193,000-square-foot expansion is under construction and will seek LEED certification for the new construction category.

• A building need not be massive to reap green benefits. In 2013, Jared Fisher and wife Heather, owners of Las Vegas Cyclery, completed construction on a new building near Town Center Drive and the 215. The Fishers, avid outdoor enthusiasts, achieved a LEED Platinum designation for their building, which uses little water and receives 100 percent of its energy from solar panels mounted on the roof, with energy to spare. The Fishers now are building an 8,300-square-foot retail space across the parking lot from their existing store, with a goal of a LEED gold rating under the USGBC core and shell criteria. The building incorporates most of the same environmentally sustainable elements as the original store, including a rooftop solar system that will provide 40 percent of the building’s power. The Fishers hope to lease half of the new building to a food-oriented tenant that also is sustainability oriented.

• One candidate for the Fishers’ new building might be LYFE Kitchen, which operates a restaurant in Henderson’€™s The District at Green Valley Ranch. LYFE is in the process of achieving a LEED certification for each of its 12 locations around the country, including Henderson, under the USGBC interior design and construction criteria for retail establishments.

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green becomes gold

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