Denver, CO, USA (June 13, 2012) /PRWEB/ — Denver Zoo’s Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit has achieved LEED® certification at the platinum level, the highest level, by the U.S. Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Toyota Elephant Passage is the first large animal exhibit complex in the country to achieve the certification.
“We are extremely proud to receive this honor. As an organization dedicated to wildlife conservation, Denver Zoo is trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible, in every facet of our organization, to support our mission to secure a better world for animals through human understanding,” says Denver Zoo President/CEO Craig Piper. “We simply must be a model for how people can live, work, and thrive with a lighter touch on our planet.”
“Last month there were 20 buildings in Colorado certified at the platinum level. Today there are 30,” says Vice President of Design and Campus Management George Pond. “We’re excited to push the envelope and see how we can apply what we accomplished in this exhibit to other areas in the future.”
The achievement is no small feat. The zoo reached its goal with the use of renewable energy, recycled water, natural daylight and ventilation, efficient heating and cooling systems and other green design and construction practices. The certification was awarded to the entire 10-acre Toyota Elephant Passage complex, which includes more than 10 major buildings.
“Building operations are nearly 40 percent of the solution to the global climate change challenge,” says U.S. Green Building Council President/CEO & Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi. “While climate change is a global problem, innovative organizations like Denver Zoo are addressing it through local solutions.”
By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gases emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.
“Denver Zoo staff and trustees have long been committed to sustainability and achieving this certification at the platinum level is a significant milestone toward our goal of being a zero-waste facility by 2025,” says Buck Frederickson, trustee and chair of Denver Zoo’s Board of Trustees Planning Committee during the project’s design.
Toyota Elephant Passage’s expansive complex will allow visitors to explore and discover the rich history of animals in Asian culture, their complicated relationship with humans and the efforts of Denver Zoo and its partners around the world to protect their future. It also is meant to demonstrate the zoo’s commitment to sustainable business practices and reduce its environmental impact. CLR Design, Denver Zoo’s design partner in Toyota Elephant Passage, believes the exhibit is a model for sustainable design and renewable energy.
“We hope this inspires other Colorado businesses to adopt greener practices that also improve their bottom lines,” says Greg Dykstra, Principal of CLR Design. “Denver Zoo’s success demonstrates wonderfully to the business and construction communities that zoos, aquariums and other facilities can go green as well. Small changes can result in tremendous positive impact.”
This certification is the latest in a notable list of honors Denver Zoo has received for its sustainable practices. Last year Denver Zoo was awarded The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) inaugural Green Award, ranking the zoo as the greenest zoo in the country for its outstanding sustainability practices. In 2009, the zoo became the first zoo in the country to receive ISO 14001 certification for all of its operations. ISO 14001 certification is an international recognition that commits the zoo to the highest environmental standards and requires regular independent outside audits to ensure consistent benchmarking and improvement.
Achieving LEED Platinum was truly a team effort; the LEED accredited professionals that are responsible for this great achievement include members of the design team from CLR Design, RMH Mechanical Engineers, Kiewit Building Group and Denver Zoo’s internal design staff.
Below are just few examples of sustainable practices utilized in Toyota Elephant Passage that aided the zoo’s effort to gain LEED Certification.
- Biomass Gasification System One of the most intriguing additions to Toyota Elephant Passage turns human trash and animal waste into energy. The gasification system will convert more than 90 percent of the zoo’s waste into usable energy to power the exhibit, eliminating 1.5 million pounds of trash currently going to landfills annually. This system is expected to provide power by the end of the year.
- Recycled Water A state-of-the-art water filtration system recycles most of the 1.1 million gallons of water running through Toyota Elephant Passage which is used in our irrigation system and animal exhibits. Denver Zoo also decreases irrigation to lessen overall water demand.
- Natural Daylight Natural light through skylights and windows decreases electric lighting use throughout the interior buildings of the exhibit. The zoo also utilizes Solatube®, an innovative system that reflects sunlight to provide natural, clean light into a space and can be found in six of the buildings. Plus, UV rays drawn from natural daylight are important to the health of our animal collection.
- Radiant Heating Radiant-heated floor systems retain heat at lower elevations of a room longer than forced air systems. They will last the life of the building without requiring maintenance, and save energy, money and time for repairs. They will also be used in several outdoor spaces, providing a safe walking environment for guests and animals during winter months.
- Ventilation Extra ventilation was installed to improve indoor air quality. Monitoring systems sound an alarm when air conditions or temperatures vary by 10 percent. All carpets, paints, coatings and adhesives used in Toyota Elephant Passage are low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), making them better for human and animal health as well as the environment.
- Independent Systems Lighting, heating and cooling systems will be controlled independently. This allows a worker to turn on a task light in a specific area rather than having to turn on lights to an entire building.
- Sunlight Reflection Roofs and hardscapes were installed with light colors to help reflect sunlight. This provides a lower solar reflective index for the project.
About U.S. Green Building Council:
The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.
With a community comprising 80 local affiliates, more than 18,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 167,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product from 2009-2013. USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students.
Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption and 15% of GDP per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity. Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Over 100,000 projects are currently participating in the LEED rating systems, comprising over 8 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 114 countries.
By using less energy, LEED-certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.
USGBC was co-founded by current President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi, who spent 25 years as a Fortune 500 executive. Under his 15-year leadership, the organization has become the preeminent green building, membership, policy, standards, influential, education and research organization in the nation.
For more information, visit http://www.usgbc.org.
About Denver Zoo:
Denver Zoo is home to 3,800 animals representing more than 650 species and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA accreditation assures the highest standards of animal care.
A leader in environmental action, Denver Zoo is dedicated to ensuring the safety of the environment in support of all species and is the first U.S. zoo to receive ISO 14001 certification for the entire facility and operations. This international certification ensures the zoo is attaining the highest environmental standards.
Since 1996, Denver Zoo has participated in 577 conservation projects in 58 countries. In 2011 alone, Denver Zoo participated in 84 projects in 17 countries and more than $1 million in funds was spent by the zoo in support of animal conservation in the field.