Meadow with flowers

The Akron Zoo sees sustainability and green initiatives as a way to demonstrate the zoo’s core conservation mission through the daily work of staff.

We believe that being “green” is a process of decision-making at all levels of our organization. Our everyday decisions can either help save species or create conditions that foster their endangerment. Sustainability requires constant adjustment, change, and improvement as new opportunities, practices and technologies are developed. Read on to learn about just a few of the green accomplishments and initiatives the Akron Zoo has been able to implement.


Energy

The Akron Zoo aspires to be a net-zero energy consumer of electricity

Efforts and Accomplishments:

In 2011, the zoo became an official Green Energy producer. Our solar array produces 7.48 kWh of power daily and saves over 51,800 lbs. of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere each year.

Since 2012, $550,000 worth of energy efficiency improvements has been made throughout the zoo. 1,900 new LED lights cover 70% of our park and parking lots, saving an average of 716,130 kWh of power every day and keeping roughly 1.2 billion pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere per year.

The zoo has installed several ground sources, variable frequency heat pumps for our 350-foot-deep wells. This reduces the HVAC cost for our Komodo Kingdom Education Center building (36,000 sq. ft.) by 40% and is the first of its size in the county.


Water Management

The Akron Zoo initially aimed to reduce consumption by 50%, but since 2009 we have reduced it by 82%.

Efforts and Accomplishments:

The zoo installed low-flow faucets and toilets, as well as waterless urinals, shrinking our domestic water usage to just 4% consumption and saving an estimated 260,000 gallons annually on the urinals alone.

Water filter and recirculation systems throughout the park help to save 8,000 -10,000 gallons of water per month.

Landscape plantings and new construction prioritize xeriscape and native plants to reduce the need for irrigation and provide improved habitats for wildlife.

Total water saved annually: 74,397,913 gallons


Chemical Management

The Akron Zoo aspires to purchase environmentally sensitive products, support green vendors and improve chemical management

Efforts and Accomplishments:

95% of the zoo’s in-stock paint is low/no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound).

99% of the zoo is serviced using certified green chemicals through State Chemical.

100% of the park utilizes integrated pest management with bio-controls (such as ladybugs) to reduce chemicals and control weeds and pests.


Waste Management

The Akron Zoo aspires to become a zero-waste park. We continually engage in training and education with our staff and the visitors to move closer to this goal.

Efforts and Accomplishments:

Komodo Kingdom Café is the first 4-star green-certified restaurant in a North American zoo. The café offers compostable flatware and dishware, along with several compost/recycling/trash sorting stations. Awarded in April of 2012, this third-party certification verifies the green practices we employ, including a 100% diversion of all organic waste.

In 2018, the zoo installed the Big Hanna Composter, a large, in-vessel composting unit that helps to turn animal waste, food waste and sawdust into compost. After six to eight weeks of processing, this compost can be utilized by our horticulture staff for gardening throughout the park.


Purchasing Policy

The Akron Zoo aspires to purchase environmentally-sensitive products and support green vendors.

Efforts and Accomplishments:

The Akron Zoo Gift Shop features a wide variety of local, fair-trade and green products.

Komodo Kingdom Café uses locally sourced foods, vegetarian fare, sustainable equipment and green cleaning agents to provide an environmentally-sensitive dining experience for guests.

Zoo staff utilizes Xerox ColorQube printers for the vegetable-based wax ink, eliminating 640 pounds of trash from the waste stream.


Combustion Engine Fuels

The Akron Zoo aspires to reduce the usage of gasoline and motor oil by 50% by the year 2020.

Efforts and Accomplishments:

Since 2011, we have worked with Renewable Lubricants, a local company, to replace 100% of petroleum-based products in our fleet (including motor oil, 3 cycle engine oil, hydraulic fluid, and other lubricating oils) – this reduces carbon, supports local business and reduces costs since products last longer and spills are non-hazardous.

The zoo has purchased multiple electric utility vehicles and installed solar panels on top for trickle charging.

The zoo initiated a “no idling” policy with associated signage in 2011.


Construction

We build to one of the highest green standards in construction and habitat design.

Efforts and Accomplishments:

The zoo’s Conservation Carousel was built with sustainably harvested basswood, uses only LED lights and was manufactured locally. One ride uses less power than a hairdryer!

The Komodo Kingdom Education Building is the first mixed-use LEED-certified zoo structure east of the Rockies and the first LEED structure in our county. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It is also the first 4-star green-certified restaurant for any zoo or aquarium in North America.

Our Mike and Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge area has a wide variety of conservation-focused features. The area is LEED Silver Campus certified — the first space to receive this certification at a North American zoo. 85-90% of the waste from the project was recycled. Reclaimed wood, metal and plant materials were incorporated into the project. The area also has features to reclaim water, minimize heat and electrical consumption and prevent bird strikes.

The Akron Zoo has achieved LEED v4 certification for the combined Landon & Cynthia Knight Pride of Africa and Lehner Family Foundation Wild Asia project. Some of the sustainable and green practices used in these areas include light pollution reduction, bird strike prevention on glass, a building automation system, heat island reduction, stormwater retention systems, interpretive education signage and more.