Liking Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas street scene.I’ve lived in Southern Nevada for about 35 years and, I must admit, I’m really starting to like it. I suppose it takes time for anyone to settle in, but in this case, it is the transformation of the community that is making the difference for me. Ever since Bugsy Siegel’s heyday, there has been a lot happening here, but I often felt there was something lacking. Whatever that gap was for me, it is now rapidly shrinking.


I like the green developments that are sprouting here and there. We need more of course, but at least now people can actually shop for a green home and have a chance of finding one! Builders, realtors, appraisers and lenders are getting on board as the value of green housing is increasingly acknowledged. There are new paths for existing homeowners to green their properties, like one-stop home energy improvement programs, asOlder Las Vegas home with state of the art energy. well as more qualified contractors with the training to do the work. This is important to building a stable and sustainable economy.


I like our clean energy. With our abundant sunshine, it is wonderful to see how solar power is finally coming of age. We now have numerous utility-scale facilities (with more on the way) that feed carbon-free electricity into the grid on a daily basis. And where once there were few if any, there are now thousands of homes and businesses generating renewable energy from their own rooftops. The trend is rapidly accelerating as solar energy approaches grid parity. In Southern Nevada, it now makes very good sense to own your power generating system.


"Food encourager" Paul Graham - Eating Vegan in Vegas.I like the ever-growing options for those of us who prefer plant-based epicurean delights. For home-based and professional chefs, there are now a number of excellent weekly farmer’s markets sprinkled across the valley. We even have options for community supported agriculture (CSA) with Quail Hollow Farm in Overton perhaps the best known.


I also like the growing number of restaurants that offer vegan food. No Southern Nevadan has done more to promote this ethic than my friend and self-proclaimed “food encourager” Paul Graham. His blog,, is a treasure trove of delightful discovery.  That’s where I’ve been introduced to some of my favorite hangouts, including the all-vegan Veggie House Veggie House - Very Good!on Spring Mountain and the wonderful Sunrise Coffee on E. Sunset (whose organic, fair-trade coffee and scrumptious vegan burritos are becoming legendary). By the way, Paul is working on an Eating Vegan in Vegas e-book that I think is destined to become a must-have resource for residents and visitors, vegan or not.


I like the focus on sustainability by our state, county and city officials. Their efforts are paying off in many ways and we all benefit. From LEED-certified buildings to urban trail systems, our community is maturing as it becomes healthier and more enjoyable, not just bigger. In fact, the lack of a building frenzy has been a welcome relief aSolar charged electric vehicles @ Clark County Government Center.nd feels much more “normal” than the rapid-fire, nonsensical growth of decades past.


I like the way a lot of young professionals are moving into the urban core and turning old energy-hog homes into power and water-sipping oases of green hipness. I like that Zappos is doing the same thing with the old Las Vegas City Hall, not to mention the rest of downtown. I like that the new city halls for both Las Vegas and North Las Vegas were built green, with occupant and planetary well-being as part of the plan. Overall, the Downtown Project is very exciting – not to mention the monthly phenomenon known as First Friday!

Watch former Mayor Oscar Goodman’s office being demolished by enthusiastic Zappos employees (see what they found hidden inside the wall @ 55 seconds in):

Thank You! to all Southern Nevadans who are working toward the long-term vision of a truly sustainable community. When Las Vegas is known for what you are creating, we will have changed the world.”


I like the many organizations, and the committed people at their heart, that work hard to promote these things. The U.S. Green Building Council – Nevada Chapter; Solar NV, the Southern Nevada Chapter of the American Solar Energy Society; Green Chips; AIA Las Vegas, a chapter of the American Institute of Architects; the Nevada Conservation League; and the Outside Las Vegas Foundation are just a few.

I appreciate the efforts of all Southern Nevadans working toward the long-term vision of a truly sustainable community. Thanks. I’m really starting to like it here!


  1. ah, steve, how you engender hundreds upon hundreds of memorable moments whilst i resided in the magic of las vegas.

    it is with sheer delight to read of the vast sustainable progress being created in vegas.

    many thanks for a most insightful as well as inspiring read.

  2. Dear Steve:

    Great column, as always! It’s always a pleasure reading about how this community is maturing into a sustainable city. I write this from Irvine, CA, site of this year’s US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013; I have had the privilege of leading UNLV’s team for the last year, and this was our first meeting with the other teams from around the country. The energy in the room today, with over 200 enthusiastic, committed students dedicated to changing our future, has been overwhelming. We’re so happy to be representing our community, and look forward to next fall! For a sneak preview of our design, check out the link below:

    Go Team Las Vegas!

    • Steve Rypka says

      Thanks for the update Eric. That is very exciting news. I’d like to meet soon and get the details!

      I second…

      Go Team Las Vegas!