Green Vegas

This is MGM Mirage’s $7.5 billion CityCenter, currently under construction on the Las Vegas strip, touted as the most expensive privately funded project in U.S. history. But mark this: the glowing, other-worldly mega-gambling mecca you see above is actually targeting LEED certification, in exchange for rebates on state sales and property taxes.

This thing is such a walking self-contradiction on so many levels it makes me dizzy. On the one hand, sure, it’s great that they are going for LEED, and that the buildings will consume less resources and be healthier for people, and that it is establishing green building expertise and supply lines in the region.

On the other hand, could anyone not agree that this complex is a massive net loss for humanity and the planet? It’s primary purpose is to take money from people through gambling. And to that end, it’s going to burn up absurd amounts of energy, spew untold tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and suck down a bazillion gallons of water in a location that has none, not to mention all the energy and C02 emissions associated with people traveling to get there. (OK, I’m a killjoy. I’ve also been known to whine about green luxury condos.)

I totally respect the U.S. Green Building Council, but now that green building is relatively established, perhaps it is time to consider whether there are certain building uses that should simply not be eligible for LEED certification. If casinos were ineligible for LEED certification, the CityCenter project could not have qualified for the tax breaks, and it probably wouldn’t have been built. Would that have been such a loss?