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Las Vegas Cyclery’s design, systems make it ‘net-zero’ site

The notion that a bicycle store generates more power than it consumes from the local utility conjures up an amusing image of bike shop workers in a back room pedaling stationary bikes feverishly to run the store’s air conditioning and lights.

But in truth, Las Vegas Cyclery is that owner Jared Fisher invested $2.8 million to open a state-of-the-art energy-efficient building in Summerlin that is engineered to add a net amount of juice to the grid thanks to energy producers such as 208 solar panels, one of the valley’s few vertical wind turbines and store-powered, occupancy-sensor lighting.

The 9,785-square-foot ultragreen bike shop on an acre at Town Center Drive and Discovery Drive off Interstate 215 opened this month as a literal power plant and a shrine to energy efficiency. Construction cost $1.98 million; the land cost $800,000. Fisher financed his new building with a Bank of America loan and received no public grants.

Fisher moved his 15-year retail bike business from a strip center on Charleston Boulevard at Buffalo Drive because the former 4,800-square-foot space bursting at the seams with 500 bicycles crammed into the store, and it was always his goal to build a “net-zero” green building, that is, a structure that produces more electricity than it uses from the local power company over the course of a year.

The bike shop is engineered to run at 103 percent energy capacity, which means it is designed to generate 3 percent more power than what it is expected to consume during the next year. Las Vegas Cyclery will send extra power produced at the shop into the energy grid but will not receive money from NV Energy. Instead, the bike store will receive credits. He did receive a one-time $80,000 rebate from NV Energy.

But Fisher said he didn’t build the net-zero store for the incentives. He said he did it to inspire others to build green.

“I’d build the building if I owned a clothing store. I just happen to like bikes,” Fisher said. “I wanted to create an example for other businesses. We did this and we’re not a big corporation.”

Fisher, who also owns Escape Adventures Inc. in Las Vegas and Moab Cyclery in Utah, and runs the RTC Bike Center in downtown Las Vegas, began his meetings about the net-zero building idea as early as 2008 with his architect and general contractor, Wade Takashima, of Las Vegas-based Creative FIT.

Ultraefficient light-emitting diode lighting that emits little heat and two ways to cool the bike shop – a high-efficiency air conditioning and heating unit for extreme summer and winter temperatures and evaporative coolers for moderate weather – help make the building a net-zero structure, Takashima said.

The building’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design consultant, Jennifer Turchin of Sellen Sustainability in Las Vegas, said she is unaware of any other net-zero businesses in the Las Vegas Valley. NV Energy is also not aware of any other net-zero businesses under the rebate program in the Las Vegas area.

Las Vegas Cyclery’s annual revenues are $2.2 million, enough to cover monthly mortgage payments that pay for costs per square footage that are less in the new store than the price per square foot in the former rented space, Fisher said. The two-level building, which opened Dec. 4, is an attractive retail center with a 34-foot-tall roof, oversized pictures of bicycle scenes on the walls and a community meeting room on the second level.

It’s also a palace of green design, with energy-efficiency explanations posted everywhere.

Witness the “Renewable Energy Room,” behind a Plexiglas panel that shares retail space with bicycles and accessories. Outside the panel there’s a monitor tracking the solar panel power plus comfy beanbag-style chairs made from recycled banners and filled with bike box packing material.

In another room dubbed the “Re-Cycle Center,” old tire tubes are stored for future uses as rubber mats, waist belts and high school running tracks, while an electric bicycle charging station stands ready to juice e-bikes.

“Not only do we recycle our waste but we try and think of innovative ways to re-use that waste,” a sign reads.

In the bathroom, water-saving devices share space with wall posters that show a bicycle with a message, “Chick Dig My Ride.” The bathroom sink shows a Sloan low-flow water faucet that informs users, “This faucet uses as little as half-gallon of water per minute – a conservative flow that saves water” and is “sensor-operated and solar-powered.”

Outside, there’s the $30,000 wind turbine, a dirt bike trail that loops the building, bike parking for nearly 50 bicycles and preferred parking spaces for fuel-efficient cars such as hybrids and electric vehicles.

“We gave so much thought to every aspect of this building,” Fisher said.

The green bike shop has attracted everyone from students from a University of Nevada, Las Vegas environmental studies class to customers who appreciate the store’s environmental consciousness. Fisher noted the number of customers has increased in his new building, citing the interest of visitors curious about the green store.

“It says it’s a business that cares about the environment,” said Aaron Atwood, a mountain biker shopping at Las Vegas Cyclery this week.

Fisher’s building is on its way to drawing Platinum LEED certification, the pinnacle of a green building designation, said Turchin, the senior consultant at Sellen Sustainability. Turchin said there are only six publicly listed Platinum LEED certified buildings in Nevada, including four in the Las Vegas Valley.

“You don’t often run across an owner who wanted to do it because he felt it was the right thing to do,” Turchin said. “You usually get people who do it for incentives or marketing.”

Fisher also submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Energy in hopes of joining a list of net-zero buildings across the country. Fisher said his bike shop will be the only net-zero bicycle store in the country.

“We’re pushing electricity into your house and my house,” store manager Kurt Horack said.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273.

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