Greenprint

Detroit Zoo - Greenprint
Detroit Zoo - Greenprint

Carving a path to lessen our environmental impact on the Earth

The Detroit Zoological Society has developed a unique, green roadmap called the Greenprint. This evolving plan guides our operations and is the plan by which we refine and improve our facilities and daily practices, develop new policies and programs and improve green literacy and action in our community.

  • Awareness and Innovations

    Detroit Zoo - Greenprint

    Greenprint

    The Detroit Zoological Society has developed a unique, green roadmap called the Greenprint. This comprehensive strategic plan guides our operations and is the plan by which we refine and improve our facilities and daily practices, develop new policies and programs and improve green literacy in our community. Follow our Greenprint Pinterest Board for green tips and ideas.


    Holiday Light Recycle

    Holiday Light Recycling

    The Detroit Zoological Society is offering free holiday light recycling during Wild Lights. Guests are encouraged to bring in broken holiday lights and the Detroit Zoological Society, in partnership with HolidayLEDS.com, will properly recycle them and provide a coupon for 15% off new LED lights.


    water-bottle-refill-station

    Water Bottle Phase-Out Program

    We have successfully weaned 1.3 million Detroit Zoo visitors off the bottle! In August 2013, the Detroit Zoological Society launched a three-year initiative to discontinue the sale of bottled water as part of our green journey. Inexpensive reusable bottles are sold at concession stands, which can be refilled for free at one of 20 filtered-water stations throughout the grounds.


    coming-soon

    Biodigester

    In 2016, we plan to build a biodigester, which will convert almost all of our animal waste into compost and capture the methane byproduct, which we will use as an alternative energy source at our animal hospital. We will then use the compost material on grounds for our public gardens and landscaping as well as donate any excess material to urban agriculture projects that can benefit the nearby communities.


    aware

    Green Certified Restaurant

    In 2014, the Arctic Café was recognized as a Three Star Green-Certified Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association. The Café is the first of only four restaurants in Michigan and one of only eight zoo concessions in the country to be certified green. Some of the restaurant’s eco-friendly practices include cutlery made from potato starch and soybean oil, a programmable thermostat, and touchless sensor faucets.


    greenfest

    GreenFest

    In observance of the global holiday celebrating life on our planet, Earth Day, the Detroit Zoo hosts its annual GreenFest celebration. The two-day Zoo-wide experience includes demonstrations by the Zoo’s Green Team, earth-friendly crafts, animal enrichment and exhibits by local conservation groups.

  • Energy

    eec

    Energy Efficiency Upgrades

    In 2012, we completed a $2 million energy efficiency project for upgrades including lighting, mechanical, controls and water conservation. This project promises to save the Zoo nearly $275,000 in annual utility costs with a payback of 6.5 years and a savings of more than 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide. The energy efficiency upgrades span more than 50 Detroit Zoo buildings and include installation of additional utility meters and low-flow toilets as well as rooftop unit upgrades and boiler control upgrades. We continue to find ways to make our operations more efficient and lessen our use of fossil fuels.


    lighting

    Lighting Upgrades

    As part of our energy efficiency improvement project, the Zoo continues to install lighting upgrades throughout our grounds. LED lights in the Great Apes of Harambee indoor habitat simulate sunrise and sunset to improve animal comfort, and LED lights are also used at the parking structure, Picnic Grove Restrooms and Events Pavilion. In addition, more than five million LED lights illuminated the Zoo for our 24-night Wild Lights event in 2014.


    solar-golf-carts

    Solar Powered Carts

    During our peak season, 38 solar/electric vehicles are used by staff to carry equipment, tools and the occasional guest throughout the Zoo. The panels on top of these vehicles collect solar energy and provide supplemental power. However, we have reduced golf cart usage by 25% using bicycles and walking and more than 60 bicycles are in use by our staff.


    mower

    Combustion Engine Fuels

    The two propane mowers used on Zoo grounds are more efficient than traditional gas-powered mowers. By 2013, all 11 diesel vehicles and two diesel generators had been switched to B5 biodiesel. Two hybrid vehicles are also used on and off-site the Zoo. Using alternative fuels, hybrid technology and fewer gas-powered vehicles in the Zoo continues to increase our fuel economy.


    tree

    Holiday Tree

    The ornaments on our 2014 potted holiday tree were handmade by Zoo volunteers and staff from an assortment of commonly discarded objects. The tree is illuminated by 1,000 LED lights, powered by a solar panel and is completely off the grid. In addition, the Green Team collected and recycled more than 150 strands of broken holiday lights, which normally end up in landfills.

  • Water Management

    free-flight

    Free-Flight Aviary Recirculating System

    The water recirculating system in the Free-Flight Aviary saves the Zoo more than 10.5 million gallons annually. The water is filtered and cleaned, rather than disposed of down the drain after a single use. This saves water and energy and helps reduce our impact on our Great Lakes watershed.


    water-bottle-refill-station

    Water Bottle Phase-Out Program

    We have successfully weaned 1.3 million Detroit Zoo visitors off the bottle! In August 2013, the Detroit Zoological Society launched a three-year initiative to discontinue the sale of bottled water as part of our green journey. Inexpensive reusable bottles are sold at concession stands, which can be refilled for free at one of 20 filtered-water stations throughout the grounds.


    barrel

    Rain Barrels

    Rain barrels are installed at the Picnic Grove Restrooms, Park Safety office and the greenhouses at the Administration Complex. Water that is collected from these containers is used on surrounding landscape by our staff and volunteer gardeners. Keeping rain water out of our sewage system and in our watershed is an environmental benefit and a cost savings.


    garden

    Rain Garden

    This rain garden is located at the Ford Education Center. The vegetation absorbs the rainwater from an underground pipe that transports the water to these plants. A rain garden helps keep clean, fresh rainwater out of the sewer system and reduces pollution.

  • Waste Management

    trash-recycling

    Trash and Recycling Containers

    We have acquired and placed more than 118 recycling and trash containers throughout the Zoo. The circular openings on the recycling container allow for better sorting of recyclable materials. Waste and recycling containers are also paired, so that guests will always have the option to recycle, rather than put their items in a landfill.


    boardwalk

    Boardwalk Recycled Materials

    The boardwalk at the Cotton Family Wetlands is constructed with a material made of 50% plastic bags, 45% recycled hardwood and 5% polymers. Products like these keep materials out of landfills and turn them into a valuable building material.


    ewaste

    Electronic Waste Recycling

    We continue annual electronic waste collection events. The inaugural event in 2011 diverted more than 103,000 pounds of computers, monitors, printers, televisions and miscellaneous electronics from the landfill.


    maps

    Zoo Map Recycling

    This container is located at the exit of the Zoo so that guest may recycle their maps. The maps are refolded by volunteers and reused whenever possible. If they cannot be reused, they are recycled with the rest of our paper products.

  • Shades of Green

    There are many shades of green and many ways each and every one of us can do something to help the environment. How many shades of green are you? Use this guide to help lighten your impact on the Earth and the animals that share it with us.

    Shades of Green Guide (PDF)
  • What You Can Do

    What You Can Do

    Awareness and Innovations

    • Use our Shades of Green Guide to lighten your impact on the environment – Download PDF
    • Follow our Greenprint Pinterest Board for green tips and ideas
    • Buy environmentally safe cleaning products
    • Support organizations that buy land to conserve it
    • Purchase carbon emission credits
    • Choose domesticated animals for pets; exotic pets are often taken from the wild

    Energy

    • Adjust and/or monitor your thermostat
    • Turn off lights when not needed
    • Adjust the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer
    • Turn the water heater down to 120 degrees F
    • Place old towels under your doors to prevent drafts
    • Obey speed limits to increase gas mileage
    • Use natural lighting whenever possible
    • Choose energy-efficient appliances
    • Line dry your laundry
    • Travel by train instead of plane
    • Walk, ride your bike, or use public transportation to get around
    • Buy local produce that is in season

    Water Management

    • Drink tap water when available
    • Run your dishwasher only when full
    • Take short showers
    • Fix leaky faucets
    • Opt for a low-flow showerhead
    • Collect rainwater and use it to water your lawn and garden
    • Plant a rain garden to manage storm water run-off from roofs and driveways

     


    Waste Management

    • Reuse bags and take reusable bags to the store
    • Pack your lunch in a reusable container and use a cloth napkin
    • Donate used items to charities and friends instead of throwing them away
    • Use a refillable water bottle
    • Recycle at home, school and work
    • Use a refillable coffee filter
    • Purchase recycled toilet paper, paper towels and facial tissue
    • Start and maintain a compost pile
    • Recycle old electronics