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The city of blinding lights is starting to see 'green'

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But the state is also considering proposals for new coal-fired plants, says Launce Rake with the Progressive Leadership Alliance in Nevada.

"It's not like the first thing people talk about is, 'boy, we have to be environmentally sensitive,'" says Mr. Rake. "But it does indicate that when you change the law to give incentives to engage in particular behaviors, the market will respond."

Another incentive: a rebate on state sales and property taxes for construction that meets Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) standards. MGM Mirage jumped on it, announcing it would aim for LEED certification with the 68-acre, $7.5 billion CityCenter site – which involved more square footage than all LEED-certified buildings combined in the US at that time.

When fully built, MGM can expect to save money on operating costs like air conditioning and electricity within CityCenter's casino, hotels, condos, shops, and convention center. That's good for MGM, which already owns 10 hotels on the Strip and has a citywide power bill of $350,000 a day.

"Of course the tax incentives have made it an easier decision for everybody," says Cindy Ortega, senior vice president of MGM's energy and environmental services division. "But when you look at risk on something as large as CityCenter, it's more than a financial decision to do something that nobody has ever done before."

It has meant making unusual demands down the supply chains, and creating some services and supplies from scratch:

•No company in Las Vegas could recycle worksite scrap, so MGM capitalized one of its subcontractors to offer the service for CityCenter – and Vegas's future projects.

•Few low-flow bathroom fixtures had the luxury looks MGM wanted, so it worked with suppliers to design a new faucet.

•Some 10,000 workers have been trained on sustainable building practices.

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