Most people don't think of Las Vegas as a green city. It's home to hotels, clubs, and casinos, and this hospitality economy sustains the city in the desert. The climate in the area does not contribute much to the green narrative either.
However, despite having a desert-like climate that is a challenge on its own, the city has shown great potential in its efforts to go green. It's home to one of the most extensive water reclamation programs that saw a reduction in per capita water usage of around 37% in the last ten years. Another significant step is using solar power as a source of energy, saving close to five million dollars annually that would have gone to power. Las Vegas has a unique solar power system and a considerable stock of LEED-certified buildings.
A green lifestyle or environment centers around water. Las Vegas has had a long history with water. Vegas developed on top of a spring, which has its pros and cons. It was advantageous as it had its source of water, but there was a lot of wastage. When the Colorado river's allocation of water rights was taking place, the city was still small and only got a tiny percentage of the waterway's flow compared to other cities. Over time, the city grew immensely, and finally, the spring dried up entirely in the 1960s, creating a water crisis. Water was now only available from an artificial reservoir, yet the water demand was growing as the population increased.
In the year 2002, drought hit the city. The Colorado river's water flow was down to 25% of its annual average, and another crisis loomed. At this point, the Southern Nevada Water Authority decided enough was enough, and they needed a lasting solution.
The plan was to conserve as much water as possible moving forward and offering incentives for all residents to do the same. With all the incentives, restrictions, and infrastructural changes that have gone to water conservation, it has decreased water usage by 30%— a massive step towards going green and having sustainable water solutions despite the dry climate.
The city also has an extensive system for the treatment of wastewater and recycling to avoid wastage. The system is efficient, and nearly all water used undergoes recycling and is used once again in the city. By providing education on water conservation to its residents, the city has successfully overcome conservation challenges over the years. With a sustainable supply of water, the goal of going green is slowly becoming a reality.