Vegas is hardly the first city you think of when you think about green architecture. The town’s reputation for sin just isn’t readily equated with social responsibility and repurposed building materials. But that didn’t stop one local design firm from engineering its own form of ecologically sound cement—out of pulverized beer bottles—and then building a Vegas-style castle out of it.
Realm of Design is a Sin City-based firm that architected GreenStone, a material that looks like regular stone but is actually manufactured out of recycled glass and fly ash.
Realm of Design’s founder, Scott McCombs spent years designing the green material, which his company now uses to make all manner of home manufacturing goods like fireplace mantles and staircases.
But in true Vegas fashion, the firm also used its creation to build itself a sprawling castle.
Started two years ago, the newly finished Morrow Royal Pavilion now houses the company’s 30,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.
According to a company statement, the castle is now the world’s largest green building made out of recycled beer bottles.
It’s fitting source material: The city is obviously rich in empty alcohol bottles; and GreenStone is made from the mountains of empties collected from the hotels that line the Vegas strip.
Though the castle may be impressive in its scope, its real power lies in its message. Realm of Design wanted to demonstrate that green building could still be practical and beautiful.
In an email to TakePart, company spokesperson Carla DiBlasi says, “Scott [McCombs] wanted to create a material that could utilize the glass bottles, save landfill space and build something extraordinary. He says it goes back to the quote from Dr. Suess’ The Lorax. ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’ We’re just trying to do our part.”
All told, the Royal Pavilion took about half a million beer bottles to construct. That may only be the equivalent of one weekend’s worth of drinking on the Vegas strip, but it’s also the equivalent of acres of landfill space. According to Realm of Design’s company statement, its castle saved over 400,000 landfill yards, or eight football fields if they were all piled to the top of the goal-post.
Many mistake glass as a natural substance that easily breaks down in a landfill, but that’s not the case. Conservancy group estimates that glass can take thousands—even up to a million years—to break down.
But no matter the material’s degradability rate, if it can be spared from being stuffed into a landfill in the first place, all the better.
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