When you think Las Vegas you might not think about sustainability, but that’s all starting to change – in a big way. MGM Resorts announced that it has installed the largest rooftop solar array in the US – the second biggest in the entire world – on top of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Now, before you get too excited, keep in mind that the stunningly massive array will only generate a mere 1/5 of the building’s needs.
MGM’s installation, which was placed on top of the resort’s conference center, is a monumental achievement and great example of how mainstream solar power has finally become. But it is also a stunning representation for America’s energy greed when the country’s largest rooftop array can only power 1/5 of the building it sits on. It’s perhaps unsurprising, given that Las Vegas often stands as an emblem of consumerist excess, but it raises larger questions about sustainability amidst such an unsustainable ecosystem.
Granted, the Mandalay Bay is a mind-bendingly massive building, as anyone who has been lost among the endless rows of slot machines can attest. It has over 3,000 rooms, a wave pool and 135,000 square feet of casino on top of three pools and a massive shark reef aquarium. Powering the behemoth could power a small city. So the problem isn’t so much that Las Vegas casinos need more sustainable energy sources (they do), but that the entire Las Vegas concept is inherently unsustainable.
Nonetheless, the array is something to be celebrated. MGM Resorts is the company behind several iconic strip hotels and casinos, including the Bellagio, New York-New York and the MGM Grand, so they are in a powerful position to make meaningful change in Las Vegas and they clearly aren’t afraid to lead the way. But unless humanity can rein in its prolific excess, it’s merely a tiny drop in the bucket.
Images via MGM Resorts