Sparks Working to Increase Sustainability

Posted on July 16th, 2012 by

The City of Sparks neighbors Reno in northern Nevada and is about one hour east of Lake Tahoe. It is a flourishing community of about 92,000 residents.

A combination of economic and environmental concerns has set the stage for increased sustainability throughout Sparks. Sparks is focused on saving money via increased efficiency and using advances in “green” technology that boost the health of our planet.

It just makes sense to reduce our energy costs by such measures as having more energy-efficient buildings, using waste oil to produce heat at our vehicle maintenance facility or energy generation at the Water Reclamation Facility. These kinds of projects not only make sense economically, but they also have a positive impact on the environment.

For instance, in the past four years the City of Sparks has replaced 1,250 incandescent traffic signal lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs. The energy dollars saved per year using the LED-light technology is approximately $330,000. In addition to the cost savings, the reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions caused by power generation is reduced by 4 million pounds, which equates to an equivalent reduction of about 425 cars.

Sparks has made substantial progress when it comes to utilizing photovoltaic technology to reduce its carbon footprint. In March 2010, Sparks completed its first photovoltaic power project providing for 29 kilowatts (kW) for the Larry D. Johnson Community Center.

In 2011, Sparks continued to invest in photovoltaic systems utilizing solar panels in the Sparks Police Department’s parking lot. Solar canopies that slope at a 10 degree angle provide shade and protection to the police vehicles as well as producing 300 kW of power. Additionally, Sparks undertook a major lighting retrofit at the Police Department and installed more energy efficient lighting in public facilities. And in late 2011, a 200 kW photovoltaic project at Golden Eagle Regional Park was completed. These photovoltaic projects were made possible by the generous support of NV Energy’s rebate program.

Each 100 kW saves approximately $20,000 per year in electricity costs. Several Sparks Fire Stations have Photovoltaic projects as well, producing nearly 30 kW apiece.

The City of Sparks is working on long-term plans to develop “green” building standards for public and private development. It also plans to transform the city’s transportation fleet to a non-fossil-fuel alternative and convert streetlights to LED technology.

From recycling waste oil and antifreeze from fleet vehicles, to using effluent in a majority of Sparks’ parks irrigation systems, the City of Sparks is advancing its sustainability efforts whenever possible. In addition to installing solar panels, Sparks is making environmentally conscious changes to existing buildings, roadways and service vehicles. Existing buildings now feature energy-efficient lighting, digital climate control systems, recycling programs, water conservation and solar panels. New buildings in Sparks will comply with the International Energy Conservation Code, ensuring that newly constructed buildings will be energy efficient.


Mayor Geno Martini was appointed to the Sparks City Council representing Ward 3 in July, 1999 to complete an unexpired term. He was re-elected in June, 2001, again in November, 2004. He was elected Mayor Pro Tem by the City Council in July, 2003 and served in that capacity until February 22, 2005 when he was sworn in as Mayor. He was elected to a full term in November 2006 and again in November 2010. 

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