Cincinnati Zoo is America's Greenest Zoo and Leed Certified

Wed, 10/28/2009 - 11:13 AM

By Chad Yelton

Cincinnati, OH - – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Historic Vine Street Village, which opened in May, received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) NC Platinum certification – the highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

This new, green entrance complex helped make the Cincinnati Zoo the greenest zoo in the country. The Cincinnati Zoo is now the first zoo in the country with multiple LEED projects and the 2nd zoo in the country to receive LEED Platinum certification. Locally, this is the first LEED NC Platinum for Cincinnati and the third for the State of Ohio.

“The Zoo’s strong commitment to natural resource conservation starts at the front door,” said Mark Fisher, Cincinnati Zoo Senior Director of Facilities. “We have been and will continue to aggressively invest in our infrastructure. Building green is the right thing to do for the planet and for the wallet.”

Green building not only provides an obvious, direct, and positive impact on the environment; from lower emissions of greenhouse gases to less storm water entering the sewer system to diverting construction waste from the landfill, but also offers long term financial sustainability.

“With utility rates doubling across the board in the last 5 years and with the uncertain future of energy, we cannot afford to sit back and hope for the best,” added Fisher. “The proof is in the numbers, as we have lowered our utility bills by over a million dollars in the last few years, spending less than half that amount to achieve those savings. The tired old myth that going green is not affordable is ignorant, and we have data to prove otherwise.”

The LEED Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures. It emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, materials & resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation & design process.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s first LEED-certified building (and the first Silver-certified building in Cincinnati) was the Harold C. Schott Education Center, which opened in 2006. With the success of the Education Center, the Zoo pledged to pursue LEED certification on all new construction projects, including the Historic Vine Street Village. The Cincinnati Zoo is the first zoo in America to make such a commitment. One critical goal is to brand the Zoo’s green initiatives to the public so environmental stewardship is an important message communicated each day its more than one million annual visitors.

"The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, one of the foremost zoos in the world, is all about People, Planet and Prosperity,” said Alan Warner, President of the Cincinnati Chapter of the USGBC. “They choose to extend their environmental mission beyond flora and fauna to incorporate the needs of the visitor with the management of the facilities into one complete life support system."

Inspired by the Zoo’s original architect James McLaughlin, Historic Vine Street Village is a fun and modern interpretation of a neo-Victorian style, designed by Cornette-Violetta Architects, LLC and built by HGC Construction. Some of the green highlights include:

The buildings are 78% more energy-efficient than standard buildings thanks to:
• 10 kW of solar panels that reduce the demand for coal-fired power by 15%
• Geothermal heat pumps that meet all of the heating and cooling demands
• Spray foam insulation that reduces heating and cooling demands
• A solar water heating system that meets all of the hot water needs for the restrooms
• Renewable energy credits that make the Membership and Ticketing building a Net-Zero carbon usage facility

Rainwater is managed to eliminate runoff through the use of:
• Over 30,000 square feet of pervious pavers and an extra thick layer of porous gravel underneath that stores over one million gallons of rain water
• A rainwater harvesting tank that collects water from the roofs
• The existing elephant moat as an overflow mechanism to handle excess rainwater

Reduce, reuse & recycle are important connects of the Historic Vine Street Village design as:
• 30% of the building materials were recycled
• Over 60% of the building materials were purchased locally, reducing the fuel costs of shipping
• More than 80% of the wood used is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as sustainably harvested
• About 80% of construction waste was sent to recycling centers for reuse
• Waterless urinals and highly water-efficient toilets and faucets use 50% less water than standard facilities
• Captured rainwater is used to irrigate landscape

To view Cincinnati Zoo's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to:

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tiffany Wed, 8/18/2010 - 11:30 PM — fengying23

tiffany Wed, 8/18/2010 - 11:26 PM — fengying23

q455923354 Mon, 8/16/2010 - 1:28 AM — q455923354

q455923354 Mon, 8/16/2010 - 1:27 AM — q455923354

We are continuing our transition to energy-efficient LED lights. The lights used for the dancing tree show this year are all LED and will use only one-third the power used last year.

Unusual to have three snow leopard cubs Thu, 7/1/2010 - 2:58 AM — journeymaven

Congratulations to ABQ BioPark and the proud cat parents on the birth of three snow leopard cubs. That's fantastic news and we look forward to these three playing an important role in snow leopard survival breeding and also helping educate people about their endangered cousins in the wild.

Snow leopards live in some of the most extreme environments on earth - in high altitudes and freezing temperatures. If we don't do a lot of work with communities and governments in snow leopards 12 range countries, these beautiful cats may be extinct in the wild in our life time.

Sibylle Noras
Founder and Publisher
“Saving Snow Leopards” website.  See how conservationists and zoos are working to help these rare and elusive cats avoid extinction.

Love penguin fluffballs. Thu, 6/3/2010 - 5:06 PM — ConservationCute

I especially liked if you go to the zoo's homepage and click on the info about naming the baby, the winner says she'd like to be able to tell her dad that a penguin was named after him for his birthday. Adorable!

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World Oceans Day Tue, 6/1/2010 - 1:36 PM — TOP

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Elephants Fri, 5/7/2010 - 8:56 PM — tikitravel

Asome news on the new baby! I agree with everyone here on the fact that animals should not be in captivation. If you want to check out a really cool place in Thailand where you can care for elephants check out this place is a sanctuary for retired working elephants, it's an amazing place and they do so much good for the animals who live there. I went a few months ago and it was amazing.

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zoo animal diet's Mon, 4/19/2010 - 1:36 PM — veggiedude

It's ridiculous to try extrapolate zoo animals diet to human beings, and it flies in the face of all science of the last 30 years that looked into nutrition and health research. Maybe Rudy Socha was being sarcastic? I hope so.

response to starseed Sun, 4/18/2010 - 11:11 PM — Tessa

I fully agree with you when it comes to the captivity of orcas. These animals live considerably shorter, unhealthier lives than they normally would have in the wild. I am disgusted by what I have seen at Sea World. They claim to be trying to educate people on the animals when really it is all nothing but a circus with the animals being made to perform to attract customers. I am a little more on the fence however when it comes to some other species of dolphins, such as the ones they keep at Vancouver Aquarium. While I do not support the capture of wild dolphins, I do recognize the fact that there are species that actually live longer and perhaps healthier lives in captivity than in the wild. One of the neat things at the Vancouver Aquarium is that none of the dolphins were captured for the purpose of entertainment: they were all animals that were rescued after getting caught and injured in fishing nets and are unable to return to the wild due to their injuries. I have seen the shows and the aquarium are truly focused more on educating visitors than trying to entertain them at the animals' expense.

Christian's Award Sat, 4/17/2010 - 4:37 PM — jparrish

I know that Christian is dedicated to her aquarium job and to the rehab of sea turtles.  I am proud of her.

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Don't support it anymore Tue, 3/16/2010 - 7:31 AM — starseed2

I think we should move on from having dolphins in captivity now - we all know this isn't good for them.

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The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is a magical place.  The flora, fauna, remoteness and beauty are exquisite.  Another interesting aspect is how the indigenous people there live.  To learn more and see photos  taken by indigenous children in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, you can visit

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