Thursday, 4 Mar 2021

Denver Zoo working to set an example with new sustainability goals

Denver Zoo has new sustainability goals designed to build on the progress that the 80-acre campus has made over the past twenty years. The new goals hone in on further reductions in energy, water and waste.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the zoo, but the mission remains the same. The nonprofit’s goal is to inspire communities to save wildlife for future generations. The zoo feels as though they need to set an example to live up to its mission.

“This is not the moment to return to ‘business as usual’ with a system that doesn’t support thriving wildlife and biodiversity,” Denver Zoo’s Senior Director of Campus Management and Sustainability Jennifer Hale said. “Now more than ever, we are committed to transforming all aspects of our operations with a focus on sustainability, and, hopefully, inspiring others in the community to join us in creating a better future for wildlife and wild places.”

The energy goal is to cut use by 25% by 2025 from a 2018 baseline and work up to 100% renewable energy use by 2030.

Since 1999, cutting waste in all areas has been a target for the zoo, and they say they’ve been successful. Megan Jorgensen, Denver Zoo’s Director of Safety and Sustainability, says the next part is the hardest because it will require the most challenging solutions.

“A lot of those inefficiencies in the last 20 years or so that are focusing on stuff like identifying a leak in an old pipe or replacing pools in our animal habitats with recirculating water systems,” she said. “For us to be able to take this next leap, we’re going to have to get that much smarter, which is why we have a team of people that are already installing different technologies to be able to analyze better what we do.”

The zoo will need to remove an additional 72 million gallons of water from its operations each year to reach a 50% reduction in potable water use by 2025. Part of this plan will have a visible change as the African penguins are on the move

“There’s a lot of really exciting things about this new exhibit, it’s going to be a lot more interactive, we’ll be able to see the penguin swimming underwater, and it’s going to be right in the front,” Jorgensen said. “That will be utilizing one of those recirculating water systems with light support technology; it could save up to 75% of the water from that previous exhibit.”

The zoo is home to almost 3,000 animals representing more than 450 species, serving nearly 2 million people per year. It plans to be a zero-waste campus by 2025.

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