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June 2007

Extravagantly green: Las Vegas’ Springs Preserve

At first glance, Springs Preserve may seem a very unVegas-like attraction. The $250 million preserve, located several miles off of the Las Vegas strip, is nearing completion and is scheduled to open June of 2007. Its 180 acres will feature green museums, botanical gardens, galleries, trails, concert venues, over 250 species of wildlife…and no gambling.

Instead, the preserve is meant to be a cultural attraction, and as such is located at the original source of water for Native Americans, and later, the travelers of the Old Spanish Trail. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and now it is to become a model for green development. Though the artesian springs have since dried up, a reconstructed caldron pool will depict the natural springs that used to bubble up from beneath the ground.

In keeping with the over-the-top image of Vegas, Springs Preserve will also be extravagant in its design and construction. The Preserve is erecting not one, but seven new green buildings that will achieve “Platinum” ratings as certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

LEED Platinum certification requires that a large portion of the building materials be recycled, re-used, or recyclable. For the Preserve, this translates into utilization of “green” products and processes such as carpet made of recycled soda bottles, bio-filtration ponds to reclaim on-site wastewater, cool towers for evaporative cooling systems, computer-controlled building operations systems, and enough solar panels to power the entire Preserve.

Add all of this up and it equates to some of the most energy-efficient commercial structures in the country, as well as the first ever visitor attraction buildings to obtain LEED Platinum Certification.

While it’s true that these buildings will lead to energy-savings and cost reductions in the long run, the Preserve’s creators want to do more than save a buck. They hope that by sharing practical sustainability knowledge with visitors of the Preserve they will tap into and encourage a “green movement” that seems to becoming more and more mainstream each year.


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