Smart energy cities: Why Las Vegas and Gresham stand out from the crowd

Fri, 2014-06-27 06:00 -- SCC Staff


The mayors of Las Vegas, Nevada and Gresham, Oregon were first place winners in the 2014 Mayors' Climate Protection Awards announced at the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering in Dallas. The annual awards program recognizes mayors for innovative programs that increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An independent panel of judges selected the winners from a pool of applicants.

Mayor Goodman"We are proud of our net zero initiative and the progress we are making," said Las Vegas Carolyn Goodman, who won in the large city category (population over 100,000). "What is happening here in Las Vegas on energy innovation shouldn't just stay here. All cities, as well as the nation, can benefit from net zero initiatives."

The Las Vegas approach

Las Vegas is challenging itself to become the nation's first net-zero energy, water, and waste municipality. The net zero initiative includes:

    • Construction of more than 1 million square feet of municipal green buildings
    • More than 80% of the city's 50,000 streetlights have been upgraded to LEDs
    • Las Vegas now has more than 5.25 megawatts of solar photovoltaic at 30 facilities

Together these systems have reduced city energy consumption by approximately 15% -- saving the city more than $1 million dollars annually.

Meanwhile, comingled recycling at all city facilities has raised recycling rates to 55%, up from 20% five years ago. The city has reduced its municipal water consumption by 27% since 2008, through turf conversions, xeriscaping and equipment installations throughout city facilities.

Saving energy (and money) in Gresham

Mayor Bemis"Our city is honored to be recognized for its energy efforts," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis, whose city won in the small city category (population under 100,000). "We have ambitious goals and will continue to make big strides to achieve them because, for Gresham, saving energy ultimately means saving money.  This work has been a win-win for Gresham and I am excited to continue that trend both for our environment and for our ratepayers."

Gresham implemented an energy management program to aggressively reduce its top energy users as the fastest way to reach the city council's energy reduction goals. The wastewater treatment plant, once the city's top electricity consumer, will produce 100% of its electricity needs from onsite renewable power by the end of this year, making it unique nationally.  Electricity is generated through an on-site co-generator; a fats, oils, and grease (FOG) receiving station, and a solar array.

Additionally, all of Gresham's 8,000+ streetlights, the second highest consumer of energy, are being converted to LED fixtures this year, dramatically reducing electricity use, GHG emissions and lifecycle costs.

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