Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens was named the greenest zoo in America in 2010. Since then, the Zoo has become a leader in initiatives promoting conservation and sustainability, including the new Gorilla World expansion project.
In addition to multiple LEED certifications (silver, gold and platinum), last year the Cincinnati Zoo’s Painted Dog exhibit won recognition from the Living Building Challenge. This is a rigorous set of standards demanding that buildings not only be energy efficient but that they also have a recognised positive impact on the community and environment.
“The LBC is, by far, the most difficult and aggressive green building standard in the world,” says Michelle Curley, Communications Director for the Zoo in a report from Soapbox Cincinnati. “After many years of taking on the LEED rating system with great success, the zoo was looking to take things to the next level and the Painted Dog exhibit felt like the time to make the leap.”
The Zoo is currently expanding the Gorilla World exhibit, due for completion this Fall. According to the Cincinnati Zoo’s website, the new indoor facility will include a resurfaced habitat, a more energy-efficient stream and waterfall, random rolling hills, new landscaping, and an improved space for their Colobus Monkeys.
The zoo will be looking to achieve at least LEED Gold with the projects innovative storm water catchment system capable of keeping 13 million gallons of water out of the local sewage systems each year, as well as other energy efficiency enhancements that will minimize the environmental footprint.
The next phase of the storm water initiative is already being planned, with the goal of capturing 100 per cent of the the rainfall that hits the zoo’s property before it leaves the Zoo.
As a result of the Zoo’s green credentials Curley adds that architects and planners from not only zoos and aquariums, but also organisations outside the industry, have come to learn how best to put sustainable initiatives into practice.
Images: Cincinnati Zoo