Las Vegas building retrofit wins city's first gold

An 11-story, $11.5 million retrofit is Nevada's first to receive gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

It's a big deal. In fact, the unveiling last month was attended by former Pres. Bill Clinton.

A story by Buck Wargo in the Las Vegas Sun reports that a 46-year-old downtown office building at 302 E. Carson Ave. was recognized by the council for decreasing energy usage by 30 percent and water consumption by 40 percent.

"It was more than just a little bit of elbow grease that transformed a former asbestos-laden building into what is now considered a symbol of energy efficiency — and an example of what’s to come nationwide," Wargo wrote

He quoted Rick Fedrizzi, president of the U.S. Green Building Council and also at the unveiling: “This is really an important moment. This is the shot heard around the world. What we have now is an incredible example in Nevada that shows what you can do with an existing building and how much energy and water and waste can be salvaged.”

The office tower had been 20 percent occupied but is now up to 40 percent. It's owner Thompson National Properties liked the future of downtown Las Vegas and saw an opportunity. Tony Thompson, chairman and CEO of Irvine-based Thompson National Properties, which manages 3.5 million square feet of office space in Las Vegas, said: “What we spent on it is still below the replacement cost.”

Fedrizzi said the cost of $81 per square foot is half the price many other green office redevelopment projects have paid across the county and shows what’s possible.

Clinton dubbed Los Angeles-based general contractor Shangri-La "the best green building company in the country," according to a piece in the Huffington Post by Ellen Sterling. "Climate change is a huge problem. I think we have only scratched the surface of what we have to do. But I also believe that changing the way we consume and produce energy is the number one thing we can do in America to get the jobs engine going again, to improve our national security by making us less dependent on either imported or otherwise destructive sources of energy and to make a safer environment for our kids and grandkids."

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.