Monday, March 30, 2009

LEED Not So Important Now for CityCenter

When Green Lodging News first reported on MGM Mirage's $7 billion CityCenter project more than two years ago (the cost is now up to $8.6 billion), the project was the talk of the lodging industry—not only because of the cost but also because of MGM Mirage's commitment to build the complex to LEED standards. It was almost two years ago that I also had an opportunity to visit the CityCenter sales center. I was impressed with what the builders were doing to recycle construction waste and what MGM Mirage was planning to reclaim water and generate power once the project was completed.

All of that initial talk about LEED just does not seem to matter now, does it? Dubai World, which is a 50 percent partner in the project, recently announced it is suing MGM Mirage amid concerns about the CityCenter project's viability. MGM Mirage, like any other business with a stake in Las Vegas gaming, has been hurting big time lately and is more than $13 billion in debt according to a recent article in The New York Times. MGM Mirage's stock has recently lost 95 percent of its value.

If completed and if it does earn LEED certification, CityCenter could become the largest oxymoron in the history of green building—a "green development" with a mammoth impact on the local environment.

Maybe CityCenter will teach other developers not to take such enormous risks. Good times do not last forever and you have got to prepare for the worst; that is part of what sustainability is all about.

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