The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens is the “Greenest Zoo in America.” Those big Green shoes aren’t easy to fill but a commitment to sustainability makes it possible. It’s one of only 2 LEED NC Platinum certified zoos in the country. That designation combined with a number of ongoing projects have helped the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens set the pace for sustainability in Ohio. Here are just a few of the zoo’s exciting Green features.
Park Beneath a Solar Canopy
Cincinnati Zoo spokesman, Thane Maynard, describes the new Solar Canopy as “the largest publicly accessible solar array in the country.” Melink, an energy solutions company, developed, designed and will operate the 1.56 megawatt system. When construction is complete in spring 2011, the canopy will cover the Vine Street parking lot with 6400 solar collection panels. The panels will convert sunlight into power and provide an estimated 20% of the zoo’s electrical power.
Check Out the Zoo’s Green Buildings
Vine Street Village was built with Green in mind. The zoo’s entrance complex was constructed in 2009 using 30% recycled building materials. 60% of all materials were purchased locally to minimize fuel use and shipping costs. 80% of the wood was certified as sustainably harvested.
The Village’s Green features include solar panels for energy efficiency, geothermal heat pumps, spray foam insulation and a solar water heating system. Renewable energy makes the Membership and Ticketing building a net-zero carbon usage facility.
When you Flush Think of Water Conservation and Efficiency
The Cincinnati Zoo uses over 30,000 square feet of pervious pavers to collect rainwater. The rainwater is stored beneath the pavers in a layer of porous gravel. Water harvested from the roof is stored in a collection tank. Collected rainwater from these sources is used to irrigate the zoo’s numerous landscape features. The zoo also employs these additional water conservation measures:
-Highly efficient toilets and faucets that use 50% less water
-An Elephant moat with an overflow mechanism to handle excess rainwater
Recycle Cell Phones – Help Save Endangered Gorillas
Cincinnati Zoo’s Answer the Call program is part of a national effort by zoos to encourage cell phone recycling. That’s important for 2 reasons:
-Coltan used in cell manufacturing is mined in African areas inhabited by endangered gorillas. Ongoing mining increases that danger. Cell phone recycling can decrease the demand for new cells and new supplies of coltan. Reduced mining can lower the threat to this endangered species.
-Cell phones may also contain antimony, beryllium, cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic. Traditional landfill disposal allows these harmful substances to leach into groundwater. Recycling can also help protect the environment from this growing hazard.
The Cincinnati Zoo has partnered with Eco-cell to handle its cell phone recycling process. Some cells are returned to use as emergency phones. Batteries and other parts are processed through a network of companies dedicated to sustainability. In 2010 the Cincinnati Zoo recycled 10,365 donated cell phones. Their goal for 2011 is 25,000 phones.
Cell recycling takes a little effort, but a zoo video shows that it’s so simple even an animal can do it. Local businesses and zoo friends such as Park + Vine, Findlay Market and Gorilla Glue are partnering with the zoo to collect phones and donations to help save the species.
Travel to the Zoo on “#1 The One For Fun” Mini Hybrid Bus
When you park in the Vine Street lot, overhead solar panels will absorb the sun and convert it into energy. A covered parking lot is a cool alternative, but if you want to save gas, try Cincinnati Metro’s Route #1 ” The One for Fun.” Metro’s artfully decorated mini hybrid buses make stops at the Cincinnati Zoo and many more of Cincinnati’s favorite attractions.
Cincinnati Zoo: The Greenest Zoo in America”
” Solar Canopy – Cincinnati Zoo- Melink”:
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