Home Publisher's Point of View A First-Hand Look at MGM Mirage’s Plans for CityCenter

A First-Hand Look at MGM Mirage’s Plans for CityCenter


While in Las Vegas for the HD 2007 Expo and Conference, I had an opportunity to visit the sales offices for CityCenter, MGM Mirage’s $7 billion project on The Strip. Thank you to Gordon Absher, vice president of public affairs for MGM Mirage, for giving up time in his busy schedule to chat about the project that is in pursuit of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

If you have not taken a close look at CityCenter yet, please do so—whether online or in person. I guarantee the quality and scope of the project will knock your socks off. Every part of the project is five-star quality. What is most notable from a green perspective is the efforts that have been taken to minimize energy consumption and waste.

Any environmentalist would cringe at a project this size being built in the middle of a desert but at least CityCenter is a step in the right direction when compared to the other mammoth projects previously constructed. Seven parking facilities will be built underground to reduce the project’s heat island effect, and a cogeneration plant (fed by natural gas) will supply 10 percent of the property’s electricity needs and all of its hot water. Shading will be incorporated into each building’s design to block out the hot sun and natural light will be used extensively, especially in the 4,000-room resort casino, to reduce electricity requirements.

“MGM Mirage took a leadership position,” said J.F. Finn III, principal-in-charge of CityCenter for design firm Gensler, during the Green Luncheon at the HD 2007 Expo and Conference. “They are the largest employer in the state and understand the notion of a carbon footprint.”

“We are doing it because it is the right thing to do and because it is good for business,” Absher adds.

A Small City on 76 Acres

CityCenter will include the following: Vdara Condo Hotel, The Harmon Hotel & Residences, a retail and entertainment district, Veer Tower East and Veer Tower West, The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, and the resort casino.

The world’s largest LEED project, CityCenter is recycling 75 percent of construction and demolition waste. Recycled water is being used for dust control at the site. Low-flow water devices will be used in the project and a people mover will be built to run from CityCenter to MGM Mirage’s Bellagio hotel.

Finn III says the environmental initiatives will add about 1 percent to the cost of CityCenter but he expects those costs to be recovered in less than two years. MGM Mirage is taking advantage of property tax incentives for the project.

What is missing from the CityCenter? It was obvious to me that a project like CityCenter would have been ideal for solar power. In fact, any future project in Las Vegas should include this. One other thing: In order to allow smoking in the casino portion of the resort casino, MGM Mirage is working on a ventilation system that will separate the air in the casino from the rest of the building.

“As part of our business model, we need to offer our customers smoking,” Absher says.

That is understandable but it certainly does not fit into the typical description of a green hotel. I suspect that Las Vegas hotels probably will be the last ones in the country to become 100 nonsmoking. Just a hunch.

I do applaud MGM Mirage for all of the good things it is doing. In fact, Absher says the company is stepping up its green efforts throughout the remainder of the company. A companywide green team is growing in size and property-based teams are in place at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, MGM Grand and the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino. MGM Mirage’s energy department is working with the Rocky Mountain Institute to establish a baseline for improvements.

Green Lodging News will continue to report on CityCenter as it approaches its late 2009 opening date.

A New Founding Sponsor

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As always, I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.