Going Green Without the Gimmicks

Rachel Hershkovitz

A pyramid, an Eiffel Tower, and a castle: it’s no surprise that many of us might describe Las Vegas architecture as gimmicky, but is it really? There’s more to Las Vegas than the Strip–something Las Vegas residents know well–and many of the city’s structures can hold their own.

Serious architecture isn’t limited to pure aesthetics. There’s been tremendous support in recent years for environmental causes, hence why the subject is common in both political and public discourse. As a result, contemporary architects must confront the critical issue of sustainability. “Going green” isn’t just a fad; it’s real and it’s here to stay, meaning that architects must take this problem into consideration if they wish to garner public support.

Eric Strain is doing just that. An architect in the Las Vegas valley, Strain won an award from the American Institute of Architects’ Nevada chapter for a sustainable Summerlin home he designed in 2011 called “House in 2 Parts.”

Visually, its unique structure is among the home’s most noticeable qualities. The house is aptly named, given its division into two sections. While its unconventional aesthetic certainly challenges the traditional Spanish-inspired homes of Las Vegas, the design assists with air flow. The halves are connected by a simple, sleek bridge. Like most sustainable homes, the house is equipped with solar panels, but its other characteristics are Las Vegas-specific. The home’s material, for instance, deflects the Sun’s rays and the house has no windows on its Western side to avoid the intensity of the Sun.

Although Strain isn’t the first to introduce sustainable, ecologically-friendly architecture to Las Vegas, he is among the first to focus specifically on homes. Nevada ranks as number eight among the fastest growing states, and during the years 2000 to 2009, Las Vegas went unmatched in its population growth of about 37 percent. Large increases in population require homes–and lots of them. For architects to overlook the importance of creating energy-efficient, built-to-last homes would be foolish, especially given the rise in environmental consciousness.

Eric Strain’s designs give home-owners the agency to make environmentally responsible decisions. Large-scale buildings and projects with ecological benefits are necessary to 21st century skylines, but private homes are no exception. Without pressure from consumers, architects may not factor sustainability into their planning.

Besides, there’s an economic bonus every home-owner should consider: an environmentally conscious home is one that could last fifty years or more. Finally, a home that’s still new even after the mortgage is paid off.








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