The Las Vegas Sustainability Atlas: Modeling Place-based Interactions and Implications in the Las Vegas Valley Bioregion

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Hilary Ego1, Ken McCown1, Nasar Saghafi1, Eric Gross1, William Hunter1, Phillip Zawarus1, Amanda Gann1 and Thomas C Piechota2, (1)University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, United States, (2)UNLV, Las Vegas, NV, United States
Las Vegas, Nevada, with 2 million residents and 40 million annual visitors, is one of the driest metropolitan environments of its size in the world. The metro imports nearly all of its resources, including energy, water and food. Rapid population increases, drought, and temperature increases due to climate change create challenges for planning resilient systems in the Las Vegas Valley.

Because of its growth rate, aridity, Las Vegas, Nevada is a significant and relevant region for the study of the water, energy, food and climate nexus. Cities in the United States and the world are seeing increasing trends in urbanization and water scarcity. How does the water-energy-climate-food nexus affect each metropolitan area? How can this complex information be used for resiliency planning? How can it be related to the public, so they can understand the issues in a way that makes them meaningful participants in the planning process?

The topic of our presentation is a ‘resiliency atlas.’ The atlas is a place-based model tested in Las Vegas to explore bioregional distinctiveness of the water-energy-climate-food nexus, including regional transportation systems. The atlas integrates the systems within a utilitarian organization of information. Systems in this place-based model demonstrate how infrastructure services are efficiently provided for the Las Vegas Valley population.

This resiliency atlas can clarify how the nexus applies to place; and how it can be used to spur geographically germane adaption strategies. In the Las Vegas Valley, climate change (drought and high sustained temperatures) and population affect water, energy, and food systems. This clarity of a place based model can help educate the public about the resilience of their place, and facilitate and organize the planning process in the face of uncertainty.