Las Vegas is one of the least sustainable cities in the world. Its rise to the apogee of western U.S. tourist culture is riddled with environmentally damaging moves: first, found a wholly suburbanized metropolis in the center of a water-scarce desert. Then work overtime to bring residents into a region lacking fertile agricultural land within a 300 mile radius. Next, subsidize airlines to fly gamblers into an airport over 600 miles from any major carbon sink. Water losses, embedded-cost multipliers, greenhouse gas maximizing...so many threads of hubris woven into an urban web.
Now local developers are trying to green their image by funding the world's first Vertical Farm. A concept that's been pushed for years by the Vertical Farm Project, this structure stands 30 stories tall within the core of an urbanized area. The entire structure is dedicated to food production year-round and weather independent; cash crops can be produced locally by replicating their native biomes within the structure's controlled environments. All told, between 50 and 75 thousand people could be fed by a single Vertical Farm.Cash flow from produce alone would pay off the high ($200 million) construction cost within 8 years; projected tourism revenue would make the tower every bit as profitable as a casino, and add a smidge of sustainability to Nevada's largest oasis.