Page 1

Carbon Offsetting Las Vegas A Study on Remedial Design Bethany Hird 001036274-6

Research Methods Statement:

What This thesis will explore the role design can play in remediating fossil fuel emissions by undertaking a study on Las Vegas. Each chapter will discuss varying methods of carbon offsetting, including legislative frameworks, investment, and offsetting projects, and will conclude with a chapter specific study using Las Vegas as the subject. This is with aim to conclude with a in depth, quantified understanding of the feasibility of offsetting techniques, and an idea of the most efficient way to remediate carbon emissions. Why This is being undertaken as new legislation including The Paris Agreement is putting pressure on countries to publish and reduce their emissions. This in turn effects development, investment and has resulted in a rise of ‘carbon offsetting’ projects. When researching the topic, the mystery behind the term ‘carbon emission’ has become apparent. Understanding of how a carbon emission is defined and calculated is generally misunderstood, and varying methods of calculation can lead to carbon emission figures being deliberately misleading. I believe it is essential in an age of ‘transparency’ regarding emissions, that figures and calculation methods are scrutinised and questioned, as opposed to being deliberately confusing and misleading. How In the first chapter, an understanding of emissions will be reached via researching legislation and scientific reports.

This will help give clarity about how carbon emissions are calculated and published. To conclude the carbon emissions of Las Vegas will then be calculated. Rather than taking a figure from the media, I will conduct in depth research regarding the energy supplier of Las Vegas, and their power stations. From this emission values will be calculated using my knowledge of methodology and relying on published data from energy provider NV Energy. I will use published data to create my own data sets which can then be used to calculate an exact carbon emission value for Las Vegas. It is important to note, that all mathematic calculations present in this thesis are my own, and have been undertaken in unison with my design project throughout the year in order to reach an accurate design solution for carbon offsetting Las Vegas. The second chapter will speak about various legislative frameworks, investment patterns and means of carbon offsetting. To broaden my understanding of the topic I have attended ‘The Future of Design and Technology Summit 2019’ at The Savoy Technical Centre, London. The summit consisted of a day of talks and panel discussions regarding climate change, investment and design. Speakers included smart technology entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, CEOs’ of energy companies, data scientists and climate specialists. Throughout the day I attended talks, and spoke with professionals in these fields in order to conduct research for my thesis and broaden my understanding of the topic of climate change in regards to design. The day alerted me to how wide spread these topics are, and how they effect not only the design and energy sector, but financial and

data processing sectors also. This chapter also discusses methods of carbon offsetting using case studies to showcase various remedial design techniques. The chapter will conclude by calculating the scale of offsetting technology required to offset Las Vegas’s carbon emissions. The third chapter discusses transformations in natural landscapes, and how industrialisation has affected global warming. A large part of this chapter is calculating the demand on resources for the Las Vegas carbon offsetting project, and exploring methods to meet requirements. The scale and efficiency of the project will be discussed here, and begin the discussion of if there is a perfect solution for remediating emissions. Calculations will again use figures taken from scientific reports, and manipulated to form data sets which can then be processed. This chapter will oversee the transformation of the quantitative information in this thesis, to a qualitative design solution. To conclude all information, case studies and quantitative data processed in the thesis will be considered when speculating the ‘perfect’ solution for dealing with emissions. The quantitative aspect of the thesis will help visualise and understand the scale and demand on resources required for carbon offsetting, and case studies and research into legislative frameworks will highlight other means of controlling emission levels. Who This thesis is aimed at the general public, policy makers and scholars in the field. The format of the thesis

will use footnotes to detail more in-depth, scientific quantitative calculations, whilst the main body text will present final figures in a clear and understandable manner. This is to avoid alienating the audience with mathematical and scientific equations and allow for the topic and points of this thesis to be widely understood, whilst providing additional optional footnote information those who desire a more in depth, mathematical insight. Format Printing this thesis would produce a large carbon footprint, and cause pollutants in the environment. Instead I have chosen to plant a tree to offset the primary carbon footprint of this thesis. Thesis primary carbon footprint: From previous research I know that 200 digital photographs being stored on servers releases 100g of CO2. 1 Photograph = 1.28 megabytes Therefore 1.28 mb of information stored on a server has a carbon footprint of (100/200) 0.5g. The size of my thesis uploaded to Turnitin and website issuu combined is 150mb. Therefore the annual carbon footprint of my thesis is: (0.5/128) x 100 = 0.390625g (carbon emission for 1 megabyte) 0.390625 x 150 = 58.59 grams of CO2 annually. For 7 years held on servers this amounts to roughly a 420g carbon emission.

Visiting a local tree nursery , I discussed with an employee which species of tree would be most suitable for me to grow locally and offset my carbon emissions. I was recommended the Sugar Tyme Crab Apple. This species sequesters high levels of carbon emissions and it a hardy, robust plant. In the first year of planting the tree will sequester 10 pounds of CO2 which equates to 4535g. This figure will increase as the tree ages and increases in size. Planting this tree has offset my thesis’s primary carbon footprint but has also offset 4476g of additional carbon emissions. Online publication: https://issuu.com/bethanyhird/docs/carbon_offsetting_las_vegas_a_ study_on_remedial_de?utm_source=conversion_success&utm_ campaign=Transactional&utm_medium=email

Research Methods Statement:

The Future of Design and Technology Summit 2019

Planting the tree to carbon offset this thesis



A fairytale of emissions - 5

Introduction -7 Section A

Carbon emissions explained - 10 Micro intoduction: An introduction to carbon emissions - 10 A1: Defining a carbon emission - 10 A2: Tyoes of carbon footprint, primary and secondary - 12 A3: Clarity and legislation of emission figures - 13 A4: Calculating the carbon footprint of Las Vegas - 14

Section B

Remedial techniques - 18 Micro introduction: An introduction to remedial techniques - 18 B1: Carbon Credit systems and viability - 18 B2: Forestation - 20 B3: Carbon pumps - 22 B4: Demands of offsetting - 22 B5: Calculating the carbon offset of Las Vegas - 26

Section C

Landscape transformations - 30 Micro introduction: An introduction to landscape transformations - 30 C1: Changes in landsape and the effect on global warming - 30 C2: The ecological wealth of nations - 31 C3: Supporting Las Vegas’s offset demands - 33

Conclusion - 41 Bibliography - 42 Image references - 47

Abstract: The Fairytale of Carbon Emissions

In 2015 the United Nations Framework Conservation on Climate Change negotiated an agreement for dealing with greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation, adaptation and finance (Sutter, 2015). The agreement outlined the goal to keep the increase in global average temperature to under 2⁰c in relation to pre–industrial temperatures, and pursue the goal to limit temperature increase to 1.5⁰c. This figure is said to sustainably reduce the risks and impact of climate change on the environment, whilst exceeding it would cause irreversible damage to the environment (Kinver, 2015). By November 2019, all 188 UNFCCC members had signed the agreement. This requires each country to determine a plan and regulatory report on the contribution they undertake to mitigate global warming, setting a goal to “achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gasses”. It also outlines the importance of countries to “make financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climateresilient development” (Article 3, Paris Agreement, 2015). In the press, carbon emissions are a popular topic, and new methods of carbon offsetting are often discussed. But the viability and legitimacy of said articles and offsets is unclear. In the beginning phoney ‘carbon offset schemes’ were more common than not (Azlen, 2019), and whilst standards and regulations have improved, the way carbon emissions are calculated and declared, and the legislation behind this is as unclear as ever. This begs the question of accuracy, legitimacy and credibility regarding emission and offset data, suggesting the problem may be far worse than it appears, and offsets may be a mere mechanism of greenwashing.


Fig. 1 Learning from Las Vegas (Venturi, Scott Brown 1972)



The purpose of this thesis is to quantify and discuss the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and design. It will begin by explaining the definition of a carbon emission, with a mathematical approach to quantifying emission values. Legislative frameworks and remedial technologies are discussed in the second chapter. This chapter will detail the methods of controlling carbon markets and the effects this has on investment and emission levels. Offsetting technology will then be explored via a series of case studies, with accompanying numerical calculations regarding their demands and efficiencies. The third and final chapter will look at how the transformation of landscapes via industrialisation has affected global warming, and if a balance can be struck between remedial landscape solutions and ecological preservation. Each chapter will begin with a micro-introduction, acting as a foreword for each topic, and will conclude with a chapter specific study of Las Vegas. Las Vegas has been chosen as the site for this thesis and accompanying design project due to its excess in demands for consumerism and energy use. In Learning from Las Vegas (1972), Denise Scott – Brown, Robert Venturi and Steven Izenour presented the excess in consumerism that is Las Vegas. Mapping advertisements, casinos and commercial establishments illustrated the excess of the ‘city of sin’ surrounded by the Mojave Desert (Venturi, 1972). The demanding nature of this city presented itself as the ideal subject of a carbon offsetting project. Las Vegas has carbon emissions equivalent to the

entirety of Sri Lanka (US Aid, 2019) and at night is the brightest spot on earth due to its concentration of artificial lights in a small area (NASA, 2010) To determine how to offset Las Vegas first an understanding of the origin, scale and nature of its emissions first had to be calculated. Carbon offsetting technologies could then be selected and specific quantifiable demands of these could be calculated regarding resources and space. The site of the carbon offsetting project is neighbouring town, Jean, a small commercial town consisting of a casino, aviation test runway, an all-female prison, post office and gas station. It has no residents but is a popular refuelling stop for people travelling to Las Vegas on the Interstate 15. Due to its location in close proximity to Las Vegas, and the spatial opportunities the town provides being surrounded by a vast amount of undeveloped desert, Jean is the perfect site for the offsetting project.

thesis. Whilst carbon offsetting technologies provide attractive methods to reverse damage from greenhouse gas emissions, they are often incredibly demanding on resources and space. To conclude, an ethical stance will be reached on the discussion of impact versus demand, and the balance between the positive and negative implications of carbon offsetting. Numerical calculations, case studies and site-specific design work will be utilised throughout this thesis as a tool of developing a knowledge and understanding of offsetting demands, allowing an insightful, accurate and credible conclusion to be reached.

Whilst being spatially suited for the project, Jean also comes with significant restraints regarding available resources required for carbon offsetting technologies such as water. These restraints provide a challenge for the offsetting project, but whilst challenging, this lends the perfect opportunity to showcase a carbon offsetting project based in one of the most unsuitable areas of America. This acts as an extreme test bed for future offsetting projects and technologies, which could be implemented not only across the USA but globally. The relationship between offsetting and demand will be explored throughout the


Fig. 2 Las Vegas at night (NASA 2010) 12

Fig. 3 Las Vegas and Jean (Google, 2019) 13

Section A: Carbon Emission Analysis

This chapter will explain the term ‘carbon emission’. As research for this thesis commenced, the mystery of the term ‘carbon emission’ became increasingly apparent to me. It is used widely in articles, publications and reports but the actual definition of it is seemingly misunderstood. Not only can the way a carbon emission be defined vary, but the method in which it is calculated can also vary significantly. This can lead to published emission figures being technically inaccurate and deliberately misleading, which contributes to an overall haze of confusion around published emission figures. This chapter aims to clarify the real definition of a carbon emission, and shed light on the varying ways in which it can be calculated and defined.

A1: Defining a carbon emission A ‘carbon footprint’ is a figure given to a set of emissions of fossil fuels which defines its impact on global warming relative to carbon dioxide. It is expressed in the units tCO₂e or tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The figure is reached by calculating the volume of greenhouse gas emission, and then multiplying it by its ‘global warming potential’ value. A global

warming potential value (GWP) is a value given to a greenhouse gas which equates its global warming potential in relation to carbon dioxide. A GWP is calculated by defining how long 1 tonne of a greenhouse gas remains in the atmosphere for and how much heat it traps whilst in the atmosphere, in relation to carbon dioxide. The time unit given for a GWP is usually

1 year. Carbon dioxide has a GWP value of 1, the value of other fossil fuels is found in the table below (United States Environmental Protection Agency, NDA). Explaining a ‘carbon footprint’ in this manner helps express the effect greenhouse gas emissions have on global warming. The equation below shows the calculation for a carbon footprint.

* Method of calculating carbon footprint formula and table of GWP values. Carbon footprint value (tCO₂e) = Greenhouse gas emission (tonnes) x Greenhouse gas GWP Greenhouse gas GWP = Value for heat trapped in atmosphere by 1 tonne of greenhouse gas per year calculated using gasses lifetime in atmosphere and radiative efficiency Table 1 GWP values for greenhouse gasses as calculated and published by IPCC (USEPA. NDA) Greenhouse gas

GWP (Global Warming Potential)

Carbon Dioxide (CO₂)


Methane (CH₄)

28 – 36

Nitrous Oxide (N₂O)

265 – 298

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

High GWP gasses (thousands – tens of thousands)

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

High GWP gasses (thousands – tens of thousands)

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)

High GWP gasses (thousands – tens of thousands)

Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)

High GWP gasses (thousands – tens of thousands)

Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF₆)

High GWP gasses (thousands – tens of thousands)


ne y rg

Reflec ted ene

e lar So



Trapped energy



Fig. 4 Greenhouse gas effect diagram (Hird, 2020)


The range in GWP figures is due to the varying methods of calculating a gasses GWP value. The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented multiple methods of calculating GWPs based on how to account for future warming on the carbon cycle (United States Environmental Protection Agency, NDA). The table above lists the highest and lowest values given for each gas. This again highlights how unclear the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint values can be. A small discrepancy in a gasses GWP when multiplied by millions of tonnes of emissions equates to tens of millions of difference in a carbon footprint figure for said gas. This can account for a four and a half billion difference in carbon footprint value figures for annual methane emissions *. Deciding which method to use presented by the IPCC for calculating GWP values can lead to a four and a half billion tonne difference in carbon footprint values for methane alone. If you were then to try and offset these emissions, an approximately 4.5 billion tCO₂e difference equates

to colossal differences in the scale and funding required for said offsetting projects. This is to say, that even if all the data presented up to the point of calculating a carbon footprint is correct, i.e. volume of gas emissions, that the final output figure can range enormously depending on how you scientifically choose to define a greenhouse gasses GWP.

A2: Types of Carbon Footprint, ‘Primary’ and ‘Secondary’ When calculating and declaring a carbon footprint figure there are two definitions; primary and secondary. A primary carbon footprint describes direct emissions made by a place or person, for example by cooking a meal, using electricity,or driving though a city. A secondary carbon footprint describes the emissions made by supporting a place or person, for example by importing food from overseas, by workers commuting from elsewhere, or embodied carbon in clothes (Lohrsab, 2019). Carbon footprints of countries can vary significantly depending on how they define their

* Calculations for methane emissions using GWP values presented by the IPCC

Carbon footprint of global methane emissions: It is estimated that annual global methane emissions are around 570 million tonnes. 570,000,000 x 28 (lowest methane GWP value) = 15,960,000,000 tCO₂e 570,000,000 x 36 (highest methane GWP value) = 20,520,000,000 tCO₂e 20,520,000,000 – 15,960,000,000 = 4,560,000,000 difference in tCO₂e value


emissions. Currently country’s carbon footprints are recognised by figures presented in the EDGAR database created by the European Commission and Netherlands Environmental Agency in 2019. The EDGAR database defines a carbon footprint as the primary CO₂ emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement manufacture per country. It excludes other greenhouse gas emissions in the figures and does not take into account the secondary emissions for a country e.g. its imports. It also does not include figures for land use change which has contributed to over a third of carbon emissions since 1850. In this respect, China has one of the largest carbon footprint figures. This is due to its rapid industrialisation in the past two decades but does not take into consideration that a large amount of its emissions are generated from producing exported goods to other countries (EDGAR, 2020).

A3: Clarity and legislation of emission figures Following The Paris Agreement, a transparency framework was set up under which all participants are required to implement bottom-up inventories of national emissions and report these to the UNFCCC (Paris Agreement, 2016). Despite this, inventories do not cover the entire globe, have data gaps for certain sectors and lack decades of previous figures. The EDGAR database then fills these gaps, to complete the global time series of data for each country. This allows estimates to be used to compare emission data, but are not an accurate depiction of emission figures. The current EDGAR database contains estimates of fossil fuel emissions from 1970 to 2018 (EDGAR, 2020). To begin calculating the carbon footprint of Las Vegas, the energy provider had to be initially identified to furthr investigate their power stations and efficiencies. The company which provides energy to Las Vegas is NV Energy (Generator Source, 2018). When studying emission data for power company NV Energy, based in Nevada, it became apparent that the methods in which their data was published was misleading and difficult to process. No exact figure was publicly provided for their greenhouse gas emissions, but instead a small table outlining greenhouse gas emissions per kWh of energy produced. This in itself is misleading. The power stations under NV Energy ownership include natural gas, oil, solar and geothermal energy stations. Emissions per kWh produced vary massively depending on the type of energy station, coal having the highest emission values and renewable energy having the lowest. Emission values are then also dependant of the efficiency of each power station which is affected by the age and quality of equipment (Quaschning, NDA).

Energy, only these figures were available and the assumption had to be made that the figures were average values for overall emissions. The documents also failed to outline the mWh (Megawatt - Hour) output per energy station, so these were also estimated using secondary data from other sources regarding the energy consumption of Las Vegas, and looking at the mW capacity for each energy station. The way in which the data was published by NV Energy suggests there are loopholes in how companies can publically publish their emission data. All elements of the emission equation used to calculate the footprint were found from separate documents, and required a vast amount of processing and assumption in order to become useable data sets. Technically NV Energy have published their emission data per mWh, but this is inaccurate and non-applicable for specific analysis of power stations and cannot be relied upon to generate accurate emission data.

That being said, when attempting to calculate the emissions for NV 17

A4: Calculating the Carbon Footprint of Las Vegas

To facilitate the project of carbon offsetting Las Vegas, Las Vegas’s carbon footprint first needed to be calculated. From reports it was determined that Las Vegas uses 3.3million mWh of electricity annually (Rapier, 2019). As NV Energy supplied this, specifically which NV Energy power stations supplied Las Vegas could be deduced and their capacity could be detailed: Table 2 Capacity of NV Energy power stations which supply Las Vegas (NV Energy, 2017) NV Energy power stations (providing energy to Las Vegas)


Chuck Lenzie (natural gas)


Edward W. Clark (natural gas)


Harry Allen (natural gas)


Las Vegas Generating Station (natural gas)


Silverhawk (natural gas)


Sun Peak (natural gas)


Walter M. Higgins (natural gas)


The following figures were provided by NV Energy for the emission quantities per mWh of electricity produced. As stated earlier these values are not accurate as emissions depend on efficiency, age and type of generator, and NV Energy have released one set of emission data for all, however this has to be assumed correct for the calculations: Table 3 NV Energy emission quantities per Megawatt - Hour (NV Energy, NDA) Emission type

Pounds per mWh

High level radioactive waste


Sulfur Dioxide


Carbon Dioxide


Carbon Monoxide


Particulate matter


Volatile organic compounds


Oxides of Nitrogen


Heavy Metals



In order to then process this data, the mWh usage of each power station had to be calculated. The maximum mWh capacity of each power station was found in the ‘NV Energy Power Supply Assets’ document, but details of how much energy each power station produced were not published. In order to create a data set which could be processed in the emission equations, the information obtained had to be used to divide up the known energy consumption of Las Vegas into corresponding power stations using their stated capacities: Table 4 Calculations of contribution to total Las Vegas energy consumption per power station Power station and capacity Chuck Lenzie (1102mW) Edward W. Clark (1102mW) Harry Allen (628mW) Las Vegas Generating Station (272mW) Silverhawk (520mW) Sun Peak (210mW) Walter M. Higgins (530mW)

Percentage contribution to total 4364mW capacity 1102/4364 = 25% 1102/4364 = 25% 628/4364 = 14% 272/4364 = 6% 520/4364 = 12% 210/4364 = 5% 530/4364 = 13%

Contribution to total 3.3million mWh energy output per power station 3.3m x 0.25 = 825,000 mWh 3.3m x 0.25 = 825,000 mWh 3.3m x 0.14 = 462,000 mWh 3.3m x 0.06 = 198,000 mWh 3.3m x 0.12 = 396,000 mWh 3.3m x 0.05 = 165,000 mWh 3.3m x 0.13 = 429,000 mWh

Output (mWh) 825,000 825,000 462,000 198,000 396,000 165,000 429,000

CO₂ emission 825,000 x 307.676 = 253,832,700 kg 825,000 x 307.676 = 253,832,700 kg 462,000 x 307.676 = 142,146,312 kg 198,000 x 307.676 = 60,919,848 kg 396,000 x 307.676 = 121,839,696 kg 165,000 x 307.676 = 50,766,540 kg 429,000 x 307.676 = 131,993,004 kg

Then, using the carbon dioxide emission per mWh figure the carbon emissions per power station could then be calculated: Table 5 C0₂ Emission per power station Power station Chuck Lenzie Edward W. Clark Harry Allen Las Vegas Generating Station Silverhawk Sun Peak Walter M. Higgins

Total CO₂ emissions = 1,015,330,809 kg = 1,015,330.81 tonnes CO₂ annually


with few coal and renewables. The stations are said to be â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;clean burningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; energy stations, a concept which has been delegitemised as a bogus concept.

Winnemucca Elko


Battle Mountain


Clark Mtn Ely

Tracy Fort Churchill

Nevada test site To Navajo Harry Allen Silverhawk Chuck Lenzie LVGS Las Vegas Tracy


Natural Gas

Renewable Energy

Chuck Lenzie Generating Station, North of Las Vegas - 1,102 MW Clark Mountain Combustion Turbines, Sparks - 132 MW Edward W. Clark Generating Station, Las Vegas - 1,102 MW Fort Churchill Generating Station, Yerrington - 226 MW Frank A. Tracy Generating Station, Sparks - 753 MW Goodsprings Energy Recovery Station, Goodsprings - 5 MW Harry Allen Generating Station, North of Las Vegas - 628 MW Las Vegas Generating Station, North of Las Vegas - 272 MW Navajo Generating Station, Arizona - 255 MW Nellis Solar Array II, Northeast of Las Vegas - 15 MW North Valmy Generating Station, Valmy - 261 MW Silverhawk Generating Station, North of Las Vegas - 520 MW Sun Peak Generating Station, Las Vegas - 210 MW Walter M. Higgins Generating Station, Stateline - 530 MW

Fig. 5 NV Energy power stations (Hird, 2019) 20

NV Energy


Sun Peak Clark

Jean Higgins

Fossil fuel generators

Renewable energy

Harry Allen Generating Station

Silverhawk Generating Station Chuck Lenzie Generating Station

Nellis Solar Array II

Las Vegas Generating Station Sun Peak Generating Station Clark Mountain Combustion Turbines

Walter M. Higgins

Goodsprings Energy Recovery Station

Fig. 6 NV Energy power stations that supply Las Vegas (Hird, 2019) 21

Section B: Carbon Offsetting and Remedial Techniques

When attending The Future of Technology and Design Summit in November 2019, I spoke with guest speakers and attended talks regarding the impact of climate change on investment, design and development. The role global markets and investment have on climate change is significant, and various frameworks have, and are being trialled to reduce global carbon emissions. These vary from carbon cap and trade systems, to green investment from equity firms and manipulation of carbon-based energy prices (Wolanow, 2019). Investors are now recognising low carbon investments and building a ‘green portfolio’ as a strong investment opportunity (Wu, 2019). This has given rise to investment in fields such as smart technology within buildings and infrastructure, alongside renewable energy and carbon offsetting projects (Azlen, 2019). Changes in energy prices, investment patterns and use of remedial technology effects the way businesses operate, how land is used and the role of remedial technology in design. Understanding the flow of investment in these fields gives insight into the future transformations of global cap and trade, energy and sequestration markets, alongside a prediction of how design may adapt with these.

B1: Carbon credit systems and viability The first Cap and Trade system was launched by the Bush Administration in 1995 as part of the Clean Air Act (1990). The system dealt with acid rain, by managing and putting a price on sulphur dioxide emissions . In the first year of it’s implementation, Sulphur Dioxide emissions dropped 3 million tonnes (Coniff, 2009). The framework functioned by allocating an allowance of emission credits to sectors and corresponding companies, setting a ‘cap’ on their annual emission quantities. The ‘cap’ allowed overall emissions to be reduced and controlled to a specific value within the market. Emission ‘credits’ could then be traded within the system between bodies. This allowed companies to buy credits from others and exceed their cap limit, and companies which had lower emissions than their cap value to sell their emissions for revenue. The incentive to trade


between companies was driven by significant fines put in place within the system for companies which overshoot their emission cap value (Climate Action - European Commission, 2020). The system generated a tradeable, controllable, quantifiable carbon market which could be used to reduce emissions whilst generating revenue for governments involved.

Since 1995, Cap and Trade systems have been implemented worldwide in efforts to control and reduce countries emissions. The success of Cap and Trade Systems has been widely discussed, and whether they are a mere mechanism to generate money from emissions or in fact provide substantial impact on emission quantities has been deliberated (Lohrsab, 2019).

Following this in 1997, the Kyoto protocol was agreed by The Conference of Parties, the organisation in charge of implementing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC), which is regarded as a pivotal moment in international environmental treaty making. The protocol saw 38 developed countries commit themselves to targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction (Grimeaud, 2001). The targets are often referred to as assigned amounts.

In 2005, the European Union Emission Trading System was set up. It was the worlds first international trading system and remains the largest system today, contributing to over three quarters of international carbon trading The system has had proven success, figures show that in 2020, emissions covered by the system are 21% lower than in 2005, and in 2030 emissions are aimed to be 40% lower(Climate Action ETS, 2020). Auctioning is the method of trading

allocated carbon credits within the system, and between 2017 and 2018 auctioning generated EUR 14.1 billion (Healy, 2019). National governments within the EU ETS have pledged to spend at least half of this revenue on climate measures in the EU and abroad. (Climate Action, 2020) Investment in climate measures comes in many forms, often the support of renewable energy projects or investment in carbon offsetting projects. At the Future of Design and Technology Summit 2019, key discussions were made regarding investment in carbon offsetting schemes and viability. ICO’S or Initial Carbon Offsets are schemes which companies can certify their investment in as carbon offsetting their emissions. In the dawn of carbon offsetting schemes, it was said that 80% of ICO’s were scams, but recent measures have lead to the evolution of offsetting schemes and growth of their legitimacy. (Azlen, 2019) The measures which have affected this have come in the form of: - The power of monetarising measures

- The ability to quantify emissions accurately and connect these to consumers experience - A transition period where companies have trialled and compared new offsetting techniques to determine the most effective for them - A creation of standards against ‘green washing’ or fake offsets, the SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) have created new sustainability standards in the US - Europe has demanded new thresholds and targets within the scheme, but it is understood that they should aim for further transparencies Alongside the development of legislation, the evolution of offsetting technologies has been a pivotal moment in carbon capture and sequestration markets. The remainder of this chapter will explore some of the most common offsetting technologies, their impact on the environment and their legitimacy in reductions of emission levels.

- Raised awareness of the criminality surrounding fake offsetting companies

Fig. 7 Investment of revenue generated by cap and trade auctioning on renewable energy per country (Climate acation ETS, 2020) 23

B2: Forestation A popular method of carbon offsetting, whether it be for personal offsetting of as a form of investment to offset a company’s emissions is planting trees or ‘forestation’. There are now many companies which allow individuals or corporations to purchase offsets where a specific number of trees will be planted depending on the size of the emission they wish to offset. Planting trees as a method of carbon offsetting acts as a cheap and effective solution (Baker, 2019). In the Bastin et al, Science, 2019 report, a study was undertaken to determine land suitable for growing trees which does not encroach on cropland. The study found there is 1.7bn hectares of treeless land, which is suitable for growing 1.2tn native tree saplings naturally, without effecting farmland. This has extraordinary potential when it comes to carbon offsetting and sequestration. Covering said 1.7bn hectares of land in native trees could sequester up to two thirds of carbon emissions from human activities that are currently held in the atmosphere (Carrington, D, 2019). Professor Tom Crowther of Zurich University, who lead the research commented on the findings “This new quantitative evaluation shows (forest) restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one”. The potential for reforestation is astonishing, but it is not an instant solution to the climate crisis. As a tree grows, it sequesters more and more CO₂ annually. However, a forest of saplings would sequester far less CO₂ than a forest of 100 year old trees. So, whilst planting forests has huge potential for carbon sequestration, it could take from 50 – 100 years to see the effects (Carrington, D, 2019). This means that despite its potential, huge efforts would still be required to reduce carbon emissions. If covering all potential hospitable land in trees in 2019 had


potential to sequester 2/3 of global emissions in the atmosphere, this figure would be far less in 100 years’ time if emissions continued on their current projection.

Potential tree cover %

Less dense More dense

Map illustrates where native trees could be grown in currently treeless areas that exclude cropland

Fig. 8 Areas of potential forestation (Bastin et al, 2019)


B3: Carbon Pumps Other less commercially driven offsetting technologies are also being developed. Hellisheiði, is a geothermal power plant in Hengill, Iceland and is the third largest geothermal power plant in the world. It has a capacity of 303mW, and supplies 133mWth of hot water for Reykjavik’s central heating system (Extreme Iceland, 2016). The plant is a renewable energy power plant, and therefore has minimal emissions. However, some of the steam generated in geothermal power plants contains carbon dioxide, making geothermal energy not completely clean. Hellisheiði have partnered with CarbFix, an organisation which specialise in an industrial process of pumping CO₂ underground, to offset carbon emissions (Rathi, 2017). CarbFix have used Hellisheiði as a test site to trial their carbon sequestration technology. Emissions are captured on site, where they are then pumped to a treatment room and the CO₂ is extracted. This CO₂ is then pumped to a room where it is used to carbonate water. This carbonated water then travels

B4: Demands of offsetting in pipes to various sites around Hellisheiði, where it is pumped 1km underground into basalt rock. After 400 days the solution has mineralised in the pores of the basalt rock and formed limestone, thus permanently storing the CO₂ emissions underground (Daniel, A, 2019). The Hellisheiði site is in an ideal location for this technology, as it is situated over deep underground volcanic ridges which are rich in basalt rock and provide underground aqueous channels. This is an optimum location for carbon pumping as it allows the carbonated water solution to flow through large areas of basalt rock and mineralise (Alfredsson, 2013). Last year Hellisheiði stored 10,000 tonnes of CO₂ underground using this method, however, the process relies heavily on availability of water, 25 tonnes of water is needed per tonne of CO₂ (Daniel, A, 2019). This is not an issue for the Hellisheiði site, Iceland is a very wet environment, with access to rain and seawater, but this technologies demand for water may be an issue if the technique is attempted elsewhere, for instance in a drier climate.

Whilst carbon offsetting techniques provide attractive solutions to mitigating carbon emissions, the demands they have on resources and environments is substantial. This leads to question the ability of the planet in supporting offsetting technologies. In 2019, global carbon emissions from energy related emissions was around 33 gigatons of CO₂ (IEA, 2020). Using this figure, the demands carbon offsetting this would have spatially and on resources can be calculated. To carbon offset global emissions using carbon pumps would require water levels equivalent of the Indian Ocean being drained 3 times*.

* Water demand of offsetting global carbon emissions using carbon pumps: The demand on water for pumping 33gt of CO₂ underground would be: 33,000,000,000 x 25 = 875,000,000,000 tonnes of water. Annually the world receives 510,000,000,000,000 tonnes of rainfall (Wu, V. 2008). The Indian ocean contains 284,000,000,000 tonnes of water Pumping all global carbon emissions underground would require the Indian Ocean to be drained nearly 3 times. Fig. 9 Carbon pump process (Rathi, 2017) i) Carbon capture ii) Water carbination iii) Carbonated water distribution iiii) Carbonated water pumped underground


Fig. 10 Hellisheidi Geotherman Power Plant (Bendiksen, 2016)


Fig. 11 Carbon pump room (Golli, NDA)


Fig. 12 Carbon pump landscape (Harding, 2019)


B5: Calculating the Carbon Offset of Las Vegas

A5: Calculating the carbon footprint of Las Vegas Las Vegas is one of the most energy reliant cities in the world. It is host to 24 million lights,130 casinos, 150,000 hotel rooms (Generator Source, 2018) and is open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. NASA have declared Las Vegas to be the brightest spot on earth (NASA, 2010). This is due to its high concentration of lights in the area and the contrast to its dark desert surrounds. Las Vegas has an annual carbon footprint of 2.2 million tCO₂e, which is equivalent to the carbon footprint of the entirety of Sri Lanka, and bitcoin (Lou, 2019). Despite efforts and plans from casinos to reduce energy use and switch to renewable energy (MGM Resorts, 2019), Las Vegas remains one of the most emission heavy cities in the world for its size. After calculating the carbon emissions of Las Vegas, the methods of carbon offsetting could be deduced. In order to be specific with carbon offsetting, I chose to carbon offset all of Las Vegas’s electricity use (as calculated in the previous chapter). This discounts other primary emissions such as driving in the city, and secondary emissions such as importing and exporting food and produce for example, which would both contribute to the 2.2 million tCO₂e figure. As stated earlier, the figure of carbon emissions for Las Vegas’s energy use is 1,015,330.81 tonnes CO₂. It is also important to state, the difference in figures between my calculation of Las Vegas’s energy use carbon footprint and the 2.2 million tCO₂e figure can also be accounted to my figure expressing exact values of carbon dioxide emissions, expressed in tonnes of CO₂ (tCO2),


and the overall figure including all of Las Vegas’s emissions (including methane, sulphur dioxide etc.) which is expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO₂e). The offsetting techniques chosen were forestation and carbon pumps. In order to determine quantities required I initially split emissions from power stations into the two offsetting methods dependant on their location in relation to the site for carbon offsetting, Jean. For power stations located close to Jean, carbon pumps were the chosen offsetting technique. This is because the carbon pump technology requires emissions to be carried from the power plants through pipes to the treatment units prior to being pumped underground. To reduce the length of pipes needed, only the four local power stations to Jean were selected for this. The three remaining power stations further from Jean were assigned to be offset by forestation, as carrying their emissions over long distances would provide too larger demand on materials and resources.

A5.1: Carbon offsetting using carbon pumps Table 6 CO₂ emissions to be offset by carbon pumps Energy stations to be offset by carbon pumps

CO₂, emission (kg)

Edward W. Clark (natural gas)


Las Vegas Generating Station (natural gas)


Sun Peak (natural gas)


Walter M. Higgins (natural gas)


Total CO₂, to offset by carbon pumps = 497,512.092 tCO₂ Using the Hellisheiði as a precedent for scale and efficiency, the quantity of pumps and resources required to offset the four Las Vegas power stations could be determined. Hellisheiði offsets 10,000 tonnes of CO₂ annually. It uses:

Therefore in order to offset 497,512.092 tCO₂: 497,512.092 / 10,000 = 49.75 You would need 49.75 or the equivalent of 50 Hellisheiði.

- 30 Pumps (8 x 8m)

The schedule of carbon pumps therefore needed for the project is as follows:

- 2 Carbonators (85 x 10m)

- 700 Pumps (8 x 8m)

- 4 Gas separator units (16 x 5m with

- 80 Carbonators (85 x 10m)

35 x 8m pump room)

These basic quantities could then be further designed to suit the landscape and scale of the project, ensuring that the scale of the mechanics remained the same.

- 120 Gas separator units (16 x 5m with 35 x 8m pump room)

A5.2: Carbon offsetting using forestation Table 7 CO₂ emissions to be offset by forestation Energy stations to be offset by forestation

CO₂, emission (kg)

Chuck Lenzie (natural gas)

253, 832,700

Harry Allen (natural gas)


Silverhawk (natural gas)


Total CO₂, to offset by forestation = 517,818.708 tCO₂ 1 acre of new forest sequesters 2.5 tonnes of CO₂ annually (Urban Forestry Network, NDA). Therefore: 517,818.708/2.5 = 207,127.483 acres = 838.215 sqkm You would need 838.215 sqkm of forest. The square root of 838.215 is 28.9 so rounded up that is a 30 x 30 km forest.


Fig. 13 Jean (Bobak, 2010)












Fig. 14 Forest and pump scale illustrative masterplan (Hird, 2019)

Section C: Landscape Transformations

As industrialisation has grown, landscapes have transformed. Whether this is in the form of cities, deforestation, landfills or mines, altering the earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s surface has had a significant impact on the environment and global warming. Many factors of landscape transformation can contribute to global warming, from removing trees which absorb CO2, to changes in how surfaces absorb and reflect the sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rays, these changes when applied over a large scale contribute to global heating and changes in emission levels in the atmosphere. C1: Changes in landscape and the effect on global warming As a landscape changes, so does the way in which it reflects and absorbs heat, this is known as the Albedo Effect. The Albedo Effect is the measure of how much solar radiation a surface reflects. The more reflective a surface, the higher the amount of solar radiation reflected back into the atmosphere, which reduces impact on global warming (Henderson, 1983). Equally, the lower the amount of solar energy a surface reflects, the more it absorbs

Fig. 15 Amazon deforestation (Athayde, 2019) 34

which contributes to rising global temperature levels. Different surfaces have different albedo values, snow having the highest reflecting 80% of solar radiation, and asphalt and concrete having very low values, only reflecting around 10% of solar energy. The highly absorptive qualities of concrete and asphalt have caused increases in temperature of urbanised areas and contribute to global warming, this is known as an urban heat island warming (United States Environmental Protection

Agency, 2008). Abilities for landscapes to naturally absorb CO2 ie, through forests, are a valuable natural asset when reducing carbon emissions. According to data from The University of Maryland, the tropics lost 12 million hectares of forest in 2019, of which 3.64 million hectares was primary forest, the most biodiverse and carbon-dense type of forest. This was due to deforestation, wildfire and abandonment of conservation commitments (Butler, 2019).

C2: The Ecological Wealth of Nations The Ecological Wealth of Nations is a framework which compares humanities ecological footprint (the demands our consumption places on the planet), with bio capacity (the environments ability to meet these demands). It allows demands and available resources to be compared, and highlights deficits and wealth of biodiversity in countries in relation to their demands. In 1962, the majority of countries were using resources and producing CO2 that their own ecosystem could support. But population and industrial growth has resulted in our demands on the planet surpassing its ecological capabilities. In 2006 the global ecological footprint overshot the planets bio capacity by 40%. Following current projections, it is predicted that by 2030 due to population growth and increased agricultural activities, humanity will need the equivalent of 2 Earths to support our demands (Global Footprint Network, 2020). Ecological wealth is an insightful way to understand how global landscapes have transformed with growth of industry and population. Deforestation, use

of land for farming, and replacing natural landscapes with man-made materials have all contributed to global warming, the ecological wealth of nations framework gives an insight into the balance of demands and natural ecology within a country.

Fig. 16 Ecological footprint versus human development (Global Footprint Network, 2020) 35


C3: Supporting Las Vegas’s Offset Demands

The demands of the project to carbon offset Las Vegas must be calculated in order to understand how this project may affect the environment, but to also understand the scale of infrastructure required to support this. As forestation and carbon pumps have been selected to offset Las Vegas, the quantities of water required can be identified. The quantity of water must be deduced using the precedent of Hellisheiði demands and selecting a suitable tree to be grown in the desert.

C3.1: Water demand for carbon pumps Hellisheiði uses 25 tonnes of water per tonne of CO2 pumped underground. The pumps in my design project offset 497,519.092 tonnes of CO2, therefore: 497,519.092 x 25 = 12,437,977.3 tonnes 12,437,977.3 tonnes or 2,735,972,518 gallons of water are required for the carbon pump offsetting process.

sequestered a significant amount of CO2. The figure used to calculate the size of the forest required to offset the CO2 emissions earlier, was a figure of a typical pine or oak forest . Both species of tree sequester high amounts of CO2, (Hunker, 2020) so ideally the trees in my project would be of a similar species. To select a species, I first identified the tree line closest to the site Jean. The tree line is found to the west of Jean as the desert becomes mountains. Most notably Mt. Charleston has thick forests of trees and is in close proximity to the site. Within the species of trees native to Mt. Charleston, the most predominant is the Ponderosa Pine. As part of the pine family not only is the sequestration value in line with the figures used for previous calculations, it is also one of the most effective species of tree for absorbing CO2. Because of this, the tree species selected for the projects carbon offsetting forest was the Ponderosa Pine. Ponderosa Pine need 12 inches of rainfall annually (Home Guides, NDA), this amounts to: 325,848 gallons per acre. The forest is 900 square km or 222,395 acres therefore: 222,395 x 325,858 = 72,466,965,960

C3.2: Water demand for forest

The forest requires 72,466,965,960 gallons of water annually.

Picking a suitable tree to be grown in the Nevada desert required research into the ecology of the area. Desert trees often survive on very little water, but do not absorb much CO2. I had to therefore assume that the forest would be irrigated by some means, in order to choose a suitable tree that


C3.3: Supporting offset water demands Forests are able to grow on Mt. Charleston as it receives snowfall due to its high altitude, 3.6km (Charleston Peak, 2011), in fact, most of the water in Nevada, including that in the hoover dam Lake Mead comes from melted snow water in the mountains. The Hoover Dam Lake Mead water levels have fallen dramatically in recent years due to increased demand and less snow falling on the Rocky Mountains, the lakes main water source. This has put a strain on the water supply provided by the lake, and the infrastructure surrounding it. Currently new pipes are being constructed below the water line to allow the dam to function at the new low water levels (Hitlzik, 2019). That being said, it has been deduced that Lake Mead cannot support this project and water must be found elsewhere. Ground water accessed by wells is also a common way for agriculture to receive water in Nevada, but in recent years strain has also been put on this (Nevada Department of Conservation, 2020), meaning that again this could not be relied on to support my design project. The dry desert surrounding the Jean site, and the intensive water requirements for this project are at a juxtaposition. There could almost not be a more unsuitable place for a project of this nature than the Nevada desert on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Whilst challenging, this provides opportunity to showcase how an extreme remedial technology and an extreme environment could still function as one carbon offsetting landscape. From environmental research it was apparent that ground water and water in Lake Mead would be unable to support the project. This led me to explore natural ways in which to get water to be present on the site. The snow on the mountains west to Jean is caused by humid winds which travel from the Pacific Ocean over California and into the Nevada desert (Climate of Nevada, 2020). When these humid air fronts hit the mountains they cool, condense


and moisture falls as snow (Nsidc, 2020). In theory, if the mountain range continued over Jean, snow would continue to fall at the high altitudes, which suggests that if a platform was constructed at altitude over Jean, then snow would fall on it and could be used to supply water to the project. However, snowfall occurs on Mt. Charleston for 9 months a year (Western Regional Climate Centre, 2019), ideally, the project would receive snowfall throughout the entire year in order to keep up with the projects water demands. If the altitude was increased, snowfall would occur annually (Atmo, 2020). Therefore the altitude at which the air temperatures are constantly below zero over Jean must be calculated and used to determine the altitude of the snow platform. In the troposphere, the portion of atmosphere found between 0 and 10km from the earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s surface, temperature decreases with altitude. At 10km altitude begins the Stratosphere, where temperatures increase with altitude. The air temperature at different points in the troposphere is dependent on many factors such as proximity to the equator and geolocation. But as a general rule it is said that for every 1km increase in altitude, temperatures drop from the surface temperature by 6.5 degrees Celsius (Atmo, 2020). This figure can be used to calculate the altitude of a platform over Jean where temperatures would always be below zero degrees Celsius. Jean maximum temperature = 30â °c. 30/6.5 = 4.61 At 4.61km above Jean the air temperatures would reach zero degrees Celsius, that figure can be rounded up to 5km to allow for future temperature increases and to provide a buffer for varying temperature levels. Mt. Charleston has an average monthly snowfall of 8 inches and an average monthly rainfall

of 16 inches (Western Regional Climate Centre, 2019). It is safe to assume that the increase in altitude between Mt. Charleston and the snow platform will allow for at least another 4 inches of extra snowfall per month. On average, for average snow (not heavy and wet or light and fluffy), 1 inch of snowfall amounts to 1/10inch of rainfall. A monthly 12 inches of snowfall = 32,584.8 gallons of water per acre (Inch Calculator, 2020) Annually the project needs 72,466,965,960 gallons of water Monthly it needs 6,038,913,830 gallons of water Therefore: 72,466,965,960/32,584.8 = 2,223,950 For one month of snowfall a snow platform would need to be 2,223,950 acres in size to support the project for a year. But there are 12 months of snowfall so: 2,223,950/12 = 185,329,167 An 185,329.167 acre or 750 sqkm snow platform is required to support the project for 1 year.

Las Vegas




Fig. 17 Snow canopy roof plan (Hird, 2020) 39

C3.4: Project Overview For the design project this equates to a 27.3 x 27.3 km square roof, but in the interest of increased future demand for project growth I have increased the size of the roof canopy to a 30 x 30 km square. The final design for this project consists simply of a 900sqkm forest of Ponderosa Pine trees, with a large carbon pump treatment centre with a capacity of 700 pumps constructed amongst the forest. This is supported by a 900sqkm roof 5km above ground level where snow falls all year round, is melted and taken to ground level through a network of pipes to support the forest and pumps on

the desert floor. The structure is supported by a series of lightweight thin mast like towers and a vast network of tension cables. All of this is placed around the town Jean, where the project splits to ensure flight paths are undisrupted. This project accurately carbon offsets all of Las Vegasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s carbon emissions produced from energy use, and its arrangement on a simple grid layout allows for seamless future growth.

Fig. 18 1sqkm axo (Hird, 2020) Level environments

Fig. 19 Plan of pump locations, in a quarter of development (Hird, 2020) 40

Ground level is a forest with water tower. This is covered by a tent like canopy draped over supporting

tension cables. Above this as a network of more tension cables with pipe lines running through

their intersection points. This is all covered by the roof canopy with a coating of snow and brushes to

remove and process

Las Vegas




Fig. 20 Ground floor forest and pump plan (Hird, 2020) 41

Employee home

Water tower

Forest and irrigation system

Carbon pump plant

1 km

Fig. 21 1sqkm forest and pump landscape (Hird, 2020)


Snow swipers

Pipe to ground level

Heated pad

1 km

Fig. 22 1sqkm snow roof landscape (Hird, 2020)




The scale of this project highlights the severity of demand carbon offsetting projects can have on the environment. In order to ‘right the wrong’ that is Las Vegas and its emissions, 900 square kilometres of desert must be repurposed as forest and carbon pump plants, and to support this a canopy of equivalent size must be constructed 5 kilometres above. Transforming the desert typology in such a way would disrupt dozens on native species of plants and animals, and allow previously unintroduced species to thrive there. In the case of this project, one could argue that the Nevada desert has already undergone vast transformations. From the nuclear test site to the north of Las Vegas, to vast solar projects such as Solar Array 1, the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas itself, the Mojave Desert has historically been transformed and developed so a project of this nature would not be untoward. The question then is not how appropriate it is to construct a project of this scale, but instead how effective it is. Yes, this project would remove all of Las Vegas’s annual energy related carbon emissions from the atmosphere, allowing it to continue to function as an energy demanding, consumption and excess driven destination but with zero energy related emissions, but at what cost? Environmentally the scale and transformation of landscape is clear, but what effect would causing snow to fall on the 900sqkm canopy have on the climate of the neighbouring mountains? To understand this, an environmental specialist would need to be consulted, but it is a safe assumption that causing 12 inches of snow to fall a month over a 900sqkm area would significantly affect moisture levels in the atmosphere and have a knock on effect on surrounding weather and environmental conditions. Whilst the snow canopy provides

a remedy to the water demands of the project, without removing any ground water or utilising the Hoover Dam Lake Mead, in the long term its presence may affect snow levels on other surrounding mountain ranges whose melted snow flows into the rivers and lakes of Nevada. In fact, the issue here is not about finding a perfect solution, but instead if a balance can be reached between offsetting projects and their demand on resources and the environment. It appears there is no perfect remedy for dealing with global emissions. Whilst developments in science and engineering present new, attractive means of offsetting, the planet can only provide limited resources and land, of which most are already under strain from development and industrialisation. Instead, a balance must be reached between offsetting efforts and industrialisation. After conducting research for this project by reading papers, attending summits and speaking to professionals in the energy, financial and construction industries, in my opinion the most effective method to deal with global emissions is through renewable energy. A switch to renewable energy must be driven by increases in carbon prices, investment in renewable energy projects and appropriate legislation and frameworks being put in place to tackle emission levels within specific sectors. In one day, enough sunlight falls on the earth to power the entire planet for one year (Azlen, 2019). The opportunity for renewable energy use is colossal, and it’s use would allow development and industrialisation to inevitably continue, but in a much greener way. Of course, renewable energy also has its demands on the environment and resources. Solar and wind projects can completely transform natural landscapes, and countries have

varying opportunities to harness renewable energy. But again, it is about balance, and whilst globally switching entirely to renewable energy in the near future may pose too larger demand on resources, a partial switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy would certainly have a significant impact on reducing global emissions. Renewable energy, an increase in implementation of climate related legislation, and the use of carbon offsetting projects when combined allow an effective balance to be reached when attempting to remediate global emissions. It is the combination of all the methods of tackling emission levels spoken about in this thesis, amongst others, that can collectively have a positive impact on reducing global emissions without demanding too much from the natural environment. The awareness of environmental impact in future development is essential as industrialisation continues. If nothing else, this project has illustrated the scale and severity of remedial design and highlighted the impact of industrialisation on emissions. A balance must be achieved between development, industrialisation and planetary demands. In order to reach targets outlined by The Paris Agreement, and to have a future where society can continue to grow and develop but with a minimal impact on the environment, decisions about energy use, offsetting projects and emissions must be carefully considered and adapted with specificity to a place and its resources. Intelligent solutions must be reached using data inputs regarding the environment, geology, financial capabilities and availability of resources specific to a place, to ensure that future development and remedial design can effectively balance demand on space and resources with positive environmental outcomes.



Akshat Rathi, E. (2020). China’s new carbon market could be its greatest tool to fight climate change. [online] Quartz. Available at: https://qz.com/1159667/china-is-launching-the-worlds-largest-carbon-market/ [Accessed 31 Feb. 2020]. Alfredsson, H., Oelkers, E., Hardarsson, B., Franzson, H., Gunnlaugsson, E. and Gislason, S. (2013). The geology and water chemistry of the Hellisheidi, SW-Iceland carbon storage site. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 12, pp.399-418. Ambrose, J. (2019). China’s appetite for coal power returns despite climate pledge. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/20/china-appetite-for-coal-power-stations-returns-despite-climatepledge-capacity [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019]. Amelang, S. (2019). EU mining regions say “clean coal” can ease transition, NGOs reject claim. [online] Clean Energy Wire. Available at: https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/eu-mining-regions-say-clean-coal-can-ease-transitionngos-reject-claim [Accessed 29 Dec. 2019]. Appenzeller, T. (2018). Coal Burning, Fossil Fuels, Pollution - National Geographic. [online] Nationalgeographic.com. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/high-cost-coal/ [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020]. Atmo.arizona.edu. (2020). Changes in air temperature with altitude. [online] Available at: http://www.atmo.arizona. edu/students/courselinks/fall10/nats101s12/ritchie/layers_notes.html [Accessed 14 Feb. 2020]. Attoe, W. and Logan, D. (1994). American urban architecture. Berkeley: University of California Press. Banham, R. (1989). Scenes in America deserta. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Barrow, M. (2020). Climate and Mountains. [online] Primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk. Available at: http://www. primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/mountains/climate.htm [Accessed 28 Feb. 2020]. BBC News. (2019). Turning carbon dioxide into rock - forever. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ world-43789527 [Accessed 7 Oct. 2019]. Brean, H. (2017). Snow piling up on Mount Charleston poses little flood danger, experts say. [online] Las Vegas Review-Journal. Available at: https://www.reviewjournal.com/local/local-las-vegas/snow-piling-up-on-mountcharleston-poses-little-flood-danger-experts-say/ [Accessed 10 Feb. 2020]. Brean, H. (2018). MGM Resorts will use solar array to power Las Vegas casinos. [online] Las Vegas Review-Journal. Available at: https://www.reviewjournal.com/business/casinos-gaming/mgm-resorts-will-use-solar-array-to-powerlas-vegas-casinos/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2019]. Brkenergy.com. (2019). Just the Facts - NV Energy. [online] Available at: https://www.brkenergy.com/assets/pdf/ facts_nvenergy.pdf [Accessed 12 Jan. 2020]. Butler, R. (2019). 2019: The year rainforests burned. [online] Mongabay Environmental News. Available at: https:// news.mongabay.com/2019/12/2019-the-year-rainforests-burned/ [Accessed 1 Mar. 2020]. Carbon Cap (2020). Carbon Cap Management LLP Launch of the World Carbon Fund. Carrington, D. (2019). Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climatecrisis-scientists-canopy-emissions [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019]. Catalog.data.gov. (2020). Irrigation Wells from the Nevada Division of Water Resources Well Log Database - Data.gov. [online] Available at: https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/irrigation-wells-from-the-nevada-division-of-water-resourceswell-log-database [Accessed 28 Feb. 2020].


Climate Action - European Commission. (2020). Emissions monitoring & reporting - Climate Action - European Commission. [online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/strategies/progress/monitoring_en#Reports [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020]. Climate Action - European Commission. (2020). EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) - Climate Action - European Commission. [online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets_en [Accessed 4 Mar. 2020]. Coniff, Richard (Aug. 2009). The Political History of Cap and Trade Daniel, A. (2019). In Iceland, turning CO2 into rock could be a big breakthrough for carbon capture. [online] Public Radio International. Available at: https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-05-03/iceland-turning-co2-rock-could-be-bigbreakthrough-carbon-capture [Accessed 15 Jan. 2020]. Debord, G. (1973). The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord (1973) dub fr sub eng. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoUIHBSiVAY [Accessed 2 Jan. 2020]. Earthobservatory.nasa.gov. (2010). Las Vegas at Night. [online] Available at: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/ images/47687/las-vegas-at-night [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020]. Edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu. (2020). EDGAR - Fossil CO2 and GHG emissions of all world countries, 2019 report - European Commission. [online] Available at: https://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=booklet2019 [Accessed 13 Feb. 2020]. En.wikibooks.org. (2020). High School Earth Science/Atmospheric Layers - Wikibooks, open books for an open world. [online] Available at: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/High_School_Earth_Science/Atmospheric_Layers [Accessed 4 Mar. 2020]. En.wikipedia.org. (2016). NV Energy. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NV_Energy [Accessed 12 Dec. 2019]. En.wikipedia.org. (2020). 2000s commodities boom. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000s_ commodities_boom#Fuel [Accessed 2 Mar. 2020]. En.wikipedia.org. (2020). Emissions trading. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emissions_ trading#History [Accessed 1 Mar. 2020]. En.wikipedia.org. (2020). Mount Charleston, Nevada. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_ Charleston,_Nevada#Climate [Accessed 4 Mar. 2020]. En.wikipedia.org. (2020). Sierra Nevada subalpine zone. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_ Nevada_subalpine_zone [Accessed 9 Feb. 2020]. En.wikipedia.org. (n.d.). Coal pollution mitigation. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_pollution_ mitigation#Demonstration_projects_in_the_United_States [Accessed 6 Dec. 2019]. En.wikipedia.org. (n.d.). List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions [Accessed 30 Feb. 2020]. Energy.nv.gov. (2018). NV Energyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Power Supply Assets Generation Fleet, Power Purchase Agreements, and Gas Transportation Agreements. [online] Available at: http://energy.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/energynvgov/content/ Programs/TaskForces/2017/NVE%20Supply%20Assets%20Data%20Request%20From%20GCEC%20TWG%20 Consumer%20Investor%20Impacts.pdf [Accessed 2 Feb. 2020]. Eso.org. (2020). Quantities of Water. [online] Available at: https://www.eso.org/public/outreach/eduoff/seaspace/ docs/water/water3.html [Accessed 25 Feb. 2020].


Extreme Iceland. (2016). Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station | Hengill geothermal. [online] Available at: https://www. extremeiceland.is/en/attractions/hellisheidi-geothermal-power-station [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020]. Final environmental impact statement for the Silver State Solar Energy Project (NVN-085077). (2010). Las Vegas, Nev.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Las Vegas Field Office. Forestry.nv.gov. (n.d.). Forestry in the Nevada Desert. [online] Available at: http://forestry.nv.gov/wp-content/ uploads/2009/08/trees%20for%20Tomorrow.pdf [Accessed 4 Mar. 2020]. Generatorsource.com. (2018). How is Las Vegas Powered? | Consumption Stats | Standby Generators at Casinos. [online] Available at: https://www.generatorsource.com/blog/April-2018/How-is-Las-Vegas-Powered.aspx [Accessed 4 Mar. 2020]. Geonames.usgs.gov. (2019). GNIS Detail - Charleston Peak. [online] Available at: https://geonames.usgs.gov/apex/ f?p=gnispq:3:0::NO::P3_FID:859203 [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020]. Global Footprint Network (2020). The Ecological Wealth of Nations Earth’s biocapacity as a new framework for international cooperation. Global Footprint Network. Government, P. (n.d.). Ranchers criticize Southern Nevada water agency’s pipeline plan. [online] Las Vegas ReviewJournal. Available at: https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/politics-and-government/ranchers-criticize-southernnevada-water-agencys-pipeline-plan/ [Accessed 30 Feb. 2020]. Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Sri Lanka. (2019). . Grimeaud, D, ‘An overview of the policy and legal aspects of the international climate change regime’ (2001) Henderson-Sellers, A.; Wilson, M. F. (1983). “The Study of the Ocean and the Land Surface from Satellites”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A. Hernandez, D. (2019). The hellish future of Las Vegas in the climate crisis: ‘A place where we never go outside’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/sep/02/las-vegas-climate-crisisextreme-heat-hellish-future [Accessed 3 Nov. 2019]. Hiltzik, M. (2019). Column: Despite signs of interstate cooperation, the decline of Lake Mead isn’t near being solved. [online] Los Angeles Times. Available at: https://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-lake-mead-20190208story.html [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020]. Hodges, J. (2018). Bloomberg - The Myth of Donald Trump’s ‘Beautiful Clean Coal’. [online] Bloomberg.com. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-10-29/what-is-trump-s-clean-coal-and-does-it-even-exist [Accessed 14 Dec. 2019]. Homeguides.sfgate.com. (2020). Tips on Growing Ponderosa Pine. [online] Available at: https://homeguides.sfgate. com/tips-growing-ponderosa-pine-29840.html [Accessed 28 Feb. 2020]. Homeguides.sfgate.com. (n.d.). Water Requirements for a Ponderosa Pine Tree. [online] Available at: https:// homeguides.sfgate.com/water-requirements-ponderosa-pine-tree-26317.html [Accessed 28 Feb. 2020]. hunker.com. (2020). What Trees Absorb the Most Carbon Dioxide?. [online] Available at: https://www.hunker. com/12557632/what-trees-absorb-the-most-carbon-dioxide [Accessed 29 Feb. 2020]. IEA. (2020). Global CO2 emissions in 2019 – Analysis - IEA. [online] Available at: https://www.iea.org/articles/globalco2-emissions-in-2019 [Accessed 28 Feb. 2020]. Inch Calculator. (2020). Snow Weight Calculator - Inch Calculator. [online] Available at: https://www.inchcalculator. com/snow-weight-calculator/ [Accessed 4 Mar. 2020].


Liu, X. and Bae, J. (2018). Urbanization and industrialization impact of CO2 emissions in China. Journal of Cleaner Production, 172, pp.178-186. Lohrsab, S., Hughes, M., Xiong, Y., Azlen, M., Baker, S., Baiz, P., Berry, Y., Wu, J., Wolanow, A., Bose, S., Giles, T., Gao, L., Sorell, T., Bloch, S., Yao, L., Fakhar, K., Cormack, C., Bak, A. and Lodge, J. (2019). The Future of Design and Technology Summit 2019. Lou, M. (2019). Bitcoin leaves a carbon footprint as large as Las Vegas, study finds. [online] cnn.com. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/14/tech/bitcoin-carbon-footprint-trnd/index.html [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020]. Mark, Kinver (14 December 2015). “COP21: What does the Paris climate agreement mean for me?”. BBC News. Mgmresorts.com. (2019). CSR: Environmental Sustainability. [online] Available at: https://www.mgmresorts.com/en/ company/csr/environmental-sustainability.html [Accessed 23 Nov. 2019]. Ndep.nv.gov. (2016). Nevada Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Projections, 1990-2030. [online] Available at: https://ndep.nv.gov/uploads/air-pollutants-docs/GHG_Report_2016.pdf [Accessed 7 Jan. 2020]. Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Division of Water Resources Office of the State Engineer (2020). Regulations for water and well related drilling. Office of the State Engineer. Nevada Water Supply Outlook Report February 1, 2020. (2020). Nevada Water Supply Outlook Report February 1, 2020. [online] United States Department of Agriculture. Available at: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/ main/nv/snow/ [Accessed 12 Feb. 2020]. Nevadamining.org. (n.d.). Minerals in Nevada – Nevada Mining Association. [online] Available at: https://www. nevadamining.org/minerals-in-nevada/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019]. Nsidc.org. (2020). Snow and Climate | National Snow and Ice Data Center. [online] Available at: https://nsidc.org/ cryosphere/snow/climate.html [Accessed 26 Feb. 2020]. Nvenergy.com. (2017). Nevada Power Company d/b/a NV Energy Power Content Label. [online] Available at: https://www.nvenergy.com/publish/content/dam/nvenergy/bill_inserts/2018/01_jan/power-content-insertsouth-2018-01_3_31.pdf [Accessed 10 Jan. 2020]. Nvenergy.com. (n.d.). NV Energy. [online] Available at: https://www.nvenergy.com/about-nvenergy/our-company/facts [Accessed 13 Dec. 2019]. Nvenergy.com. (n.d.). NV Energy. [online] Available at: https://www.nvenergy.com/about-nvenergy/our-company/ power-supply [Accessed 4 Dec. 2019]. Nvenergy.com. (n.d.). NV Energy. [online] Available at: https://www.nvenergy.com/about-nvenergy/our-company/ power-supply [Accessed 4 Jan. 2020]. Paris Agreement. (2015). . Quaschning, V. (n.d.). Specific carbon dioxide emissions of various fuels. [online] Volker Quaschning - Erneuerbare Energien und Klimaschutz. Available at: https://www.volker-quaschning.de/datserv/CO2-spez/index_e.php [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020]. Rapier, R. (2016). Sorry, Las Vegas Isn’t Close To Running Entirely On Renewable Energy. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2016/12/23/sorry-las-vegas-isnt-close-to-running-entirely-on-renewableenergy/#42f775a43373 [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020]. Rathi, A. (2017). World’s first “negative emissions” plant turns carbon dioxide into stone. [online] Quartz. Available at: https://qz.com/1100221/the-worlds-first-negative-emissions-plant-has-opened-in-iceland-turning-carbon-dioxide-


into-stone/ [Accessed 4 Mar. 2020]. State of Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy (2017). 2017 Status of Energy Report. State of Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy. Stephen, D. (2014). Clark County Reigonal Emissions Inventory. Stockmann, G., Ranta, E., Trampe, E., Sturkell, E. and Seaman, P. (2018). Carbon mineral storage in seawater: Ikaite (CaCO3·6H2O) columns in Greenland. Energy Procedia, 146, pp.59-67. Sutter, John D.; Berlinger, Joshua (12 December 2015). “Final draft of climate deal formally accepted in Paris”. CNN. Cable News Network, Turner Broadcasting System TCFD. (2019). Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures | TCFD - Homepage. [online] Available at: https:// www.fsb-tcfd.org/ [Accessed 15 Feb. 2020]. The week in flexibility: Persistent cold, a. and The Limejump Quarterly Report Q3 2019 &#8211; Post Blackout ruminations, d. (2020). Virtual Power Plant Archives - Limejump. [online] Limejump. Available at: https://limejump.com/ tag/virtual-power-plant/ [Accessed 1 Mar. 2020]. Todd, F. (2019). US to close three of its biggest coal plants as global phase out quickens. [online] Nsenergybusiness. com. Available at: https://www.nsenergybusiness.com/features/us-coal-2019/ [Accessed 4 Jan. 2020]. Umair Irfan, C. (2019). New, Reusable Materials Could Pull CO2 Straight from Air. [online] Scientific American. Available at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-reusable-materials-pull-co2-from-air/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2019]. United States Environmental Protection Agency (2008). Reducing urban heat islands: Compendium of strategies (Report) Urbanforestrynetwork.org. (n.d.). Trees Improve Our Air Quality. [online] Available at: http://urbanforestrynetwork.org/ benefits/air%20quality.htm [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020]. US EPA. (n.d.). Understanding Global Warming Potentials | US EPA. [online] Available at: https://www.epa.gov/ ghgemissions/understanding-global-warming-potentials [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020]. We Mean Business Coalition. (2020). A clear path to net-zero by 2050 - We Mean Business Coalition. [online] Available at: https://www.wemeanbusinesscoalition.org/business-urges-japan/ [Accessed 1 Mar. 2020]. Wolff-Boenisch, D. and Galeczka, I. (2018). Flow-through reactor experiments on basalt-(sea)water-CO 2 reactions at 90 °C and neutral pH. What happens to the basalt pore space under post-injection conditions?. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 68, pp.176-190. Wrcc.dri.edu. (2020). Climate of Nevada. [online] Available at: https://wrcc.dri.edu/narratives/NEVADA.htm [Accessed 4 Mar. 2020]. Wu, V. (2008). Volume of Earth’s Annual Precipitation. [online] An encyclopedia of scientific essays. Available at: https://hypertextbook.com/facts/2008/VernonWu.shtml [Accessed 28 Feb. 2020]. Zaremba, H. (2020). Is China’s “Clean Coal” A Lie? | OilPrice.com. [online] OilPrice.com. Available at: https://oilprice. com/Energy/Coal/Is-Chinas-Clean-Coal-A-Lie.html [Accessed 21 Dec. 2019].


Image References:

Fig. 1 Learning from Las Vega (Venturi, Scott Brown 1972), Venture, Scott Brown Fig. 2 Las Vegas at night (NASA 2010) Fig. 3 Las Vegas and Jean (Google, 2019) Fig. 4 Greenhouse gas effect diagram (Hird, 2020) Fig. 5 NV Energy power stations (Hird, 2019) Fig. 6 NV Energy power stations that supply Las Vegas (Hird, 2019) Fig. 7 Investment of revenue generated by cap and trade auctioning on renewable energy per country (Climate acation ETS, 2020) Fig. 8 Areas of potential forestation (Bastin et al, 2019) Fig. 9 Carbon pump process (Rathi, 2017) Fig. 10 Hellisheidi Geotherman Power Plant (Bendiksen, 2016) Fig. 12 Carbon pump landscape (Harding, 2019) Fig. 11 Carbon pump room (Golli, NDA) Fig. 13 Jean (Bobak, 2010) Fig. 14 Forest and pump scale illustrative masterplan (Hird, 2019) Fig. 15 Amazon deforestation (Athayde, 2019) Fig. 16 Ecological footprint versus human development (Global Footprint Network, 2020) Fig. 17 Snow canopy roof plan (Hird, 2020) Fig. 18 1sqkm axo (Hird, 2020) Fig. 19 Plan of pump locations, in a quarter of development (Hird, 2020) Fig. 20 Ground floor forest and pump plan (Hird, 2020) Fig. 21 1sqkm forest and pump landscape (Hird, 2020) Fig. 22 1sqkm snow roof landscape (Hird, 2020)


Profile for bethanyhird

Carbon Offsetting Las Vegas - A Study on Remedial Design - Bethany Hird Thesis  

Carbon Offsetting Las Vegas - A Study on Remedial Design - Bethany Hird Thesis A thesis exploring methods and frameworks of carbon offsetti...

Carbon Offsetting Las Vegas - A Study on Remedial Design - Bethany Hird Thesis  

Carbon Offsetting Las Vegas - A Study on Remedial Design - Bethany Hird Thesis A thesis exploring methods and frameworks of carbon offsetti...