I'm at Partners in Progress this week, the Sheet Metal Workers union and Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors' National Association joint biennial event, usually held in Las Vegas.

Green building has been a major topic this year, with SMACNA urging members to get involved in the certification programs that ensure buildings don't waste excessive energy or harm the environment.

At "Bidding Green:The Future of Construction Contracting," yesterday, contractors from Waldinger Corp. in Des Moines, Iowa, said they've had success as one of a few contractors in the small Iowa market that can help developers meet U.S. Green Building Council requirements. Meeting the USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program requirements has become a prerequisite in many U.S. cities and states for government and some commercial projects.

Las Vegas, known for the gluttony of its buffets, 24-hour gambling and blazing lights of the Strip, might seem to be a strange place to talk about green building. But the truth is the city and state have done a lot in recent years to conserve energy.

Clark County, Nev., pays homeowners to replace their water-sucking lawns with natural desert vegetation, and many restaurants only serve water on request. The state has started requiring LEED certification as well. Even some of the casinos scheduled to open in the next few years are attempting to "go green."

If a city that worships excess can embrace the movement, that says a lot.