More than three months before it opens, the $8.5 billion CityCenter development has received three Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) gold certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The certification, expected to be announced today by CityCenter developer MGM Mirage, covers the two 4,004-room Aria hotel towers, CityCenter's centerpiece designed by noted architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli.
Also receiving LEED gold certification is Aria's convention center and theater and Vdara, a 1,500-room nongaming hotel and condominium development designed by Rafael Vinoly's RV Architecture.
The two buildings are the largest hotels to ever receive LEED gold certification and represent roughly 70 percent of CityCenter's 18 million square feet, said Cindy Ortega, senior vice president of MGM Mirage's energy and environmental division.
"When you look across the country, there are a handful of green hotels, but they are relatively small, less than 100 or 200 rooms," Ortega said.
The 3,066-room Palazzo, opened in January 2008 by Las Vegas Sands Corp., received LEED silver certification in April 2008 and had billed itself as the world's largest green-certified building.
Aria, which opens Dec. 16, and Vdara, which opens Dec. 1, gained the LEED certification in several categories, including their focus on overall energy and water efficiency, their use of recycled and sustainable materials, and their focus on occupant health and comfort.
CityCenter will produce its own energy through a reduced-emissions 8.5-megawatt, natural gas co-generation plant.
Technology used in water conservation programs will cut water usage by 30 percent and 43 percent within the buildings and by 60 percent for outdoor landscaping.
In the Aria casino, slot machine bases will serve as floor air-conditioning distribution units, cooling public spaces from the ground up rather than the more wasteful practice of cooling from the ceiling down.
CityCenter guests will be served by the world's first fleet of stretch limousines powered by clean-burning compressed natural gas.
Also, CityCenter's hotel rooms will use technology that will allow guests to reduce their energy footprints during their stay.
MGM Mirage officials said the energy efficiency initiatives used at CityCenter will provide a savings equivalent to powering 8,800 households annually.
"CityCenter's pursuit of LEED is driving green economies of scale in multiple industry segments, paving the way for other entities to build and operate sustainably," Ortega said.
Gaining LEED certification has been part of the development plan for CityCenter since the project was announced almost five years ago.
Its design and construction involved sustainable practices, including working with the architects who designed different components of the development.
The construction process included instituting a large-scale recycling operation that enabled more than 260,000 tons of construction waste, including 97 percent of the imploded Boardwalk hotel-casino, to be reused or recycled during construction.
Sustainability and LEED consultants were brought in during the building process, and CityCenter's more than 10,000 construction workers were taught green building techniques.
"It was difficult in a sense that nothing like this had ever been done in Las Vegas," Ortega said.
MGM Mirage is still seeking LEED certification for the other components of CityCenter, including the Mandarin Oriental hotel; Crystals, the project's 500,000-square-foot retail dining and entertainment complex; and Veer Towers, the development's strictly residential buildings.
The early certification allows CityCenter to market the Aria and Vdara components as green buildings.
"Our research has shown that people are discerning and will gravitate to companies that show a care and concern about the environment," Ortega said. "Having the LEED gold certification in Las Vegas will produce hundreds of times more publicity than this would anywhere else."
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871.