LEEDing the Way

How a small Las Vegas business fits into a big national narrative

high-rez-photo-lvc.jpg“Prudential—they can afford it; Terrible Herbst—they can afford it; Nevada Cancer Institute—they can afford it…”

Jared Fisher is making a clockwise sweep of his new neighbors at Town Center Drive and Interstate 215. His point: It would have been a lot easier for any of these large corporations to build a LEED Platinum-certified, net-zero energy building than it was for Escape Adventures/Las Vegas Cyclery, the company Fisher and his wife founded in Las Vegas 20 years ago. But none of those big shots did it; the Fishers did.

The Valley has a handful of LEED Platinum buildings, but none built by a small business like Escape Adventures/Las Vegas Cyclery, which Fisher says employs an average of two dozen people and takes in $2.2 million in revenue each year.

The Fishers also expect their new $3 million facility to attain Zero Energy Building status after its first year in operation, when it will be eligible. The U.S. Department of Energy lists only 10 buildings in the nation in this category, which requires structures to produce as much energy as they use. As part its goal of being the first Nevada company to make the list, Escape Adventures/Las Vegas Cyclery plastered its south-facing roof with solar panels and is the Valley’s first owner of a vertical wind turbine.

Even more remarkable: The Fishers managed to pull off this feat of sustainability with style. A jagged red brick façade follows the sloping roof in cliff-like descent, placing the design, by architect Wade Takashima, in the natural context that feeds the business—and mountain bikers’ souls.

The recession, which brought down the price of land, materials and labor, made the project possible. The Fishers got no government help, such as grants or loans—only $80,000 in efficiency rebates from NV Energy.

“Some government support would’ve been nice,” Jared Fisher says. He believes more entrepreneurs would join the green economy if the state or county stepped in and offered incentives or loans. Belief in what he’s doing is so great that people are beating down his door to work for the company.

The project demonstrates the type of leadership Nevadans might have expected from their political leaders, who, over the last two election cycles, campaigned on platforms of economic diversification, frequently mentioning the green sector.

The Fishers were determined to follow their convictions, with or without public-sector support. In doing so, they’ve made their own contribution to the economy. The project has employed approximately 75 people over the four months it’s been under way, says Don Fisher (no relation), the superintendent of the Escape Adventures site for TWC Construction. That’s not counting local manufacturers of construction materials, such as the brick Jared Fisher personally verified was being made at a facility in Las Vegas. One criteria for his sustainable certifications was using only products from within a 500-mile radius.

It’s a case study in conserving resources while creating jobs.

“We just want to set the example, show that it’s possible,” Fisher says. “We’re hoping that if we lead the way, others will follow.”

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