Greenprint

Detroit Zoo - Greenprint
Detroit Zoo - Greenprint

A journey toward lessening our environmental impact

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.

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  • 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.

    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.


    Free holiday light recycling during Wild Lights

    Holiday Light Recycling

    The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) offers free holiday light recycling during Wild Lights. Guests are encouraged to bring in broken holiday lights and the DZS will properly recycle them.

    The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) offers free holiday light recycling during Wild Lights. Guests are encouraged to bring in broken holiday lights and the DZS will properly recycle them.


    Water bottle refill station

    Water Bottle Phase-Out Program

    We have successfully weaned 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 21 filtered-water stations throughout the grounds.

    We have successfully weaned 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 21 filtered-water stations throughout the grounds.


    An Anaerobic Digester, or biodigester, building

    Anaerobic Digester

    We have built an anaerobic digester, which converts almost all of the animal waste into compost and captures the methane byproduct, to be used as an alternative energy source at the Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex. We then use the compost material on grounds for our public gardens and landscaping.

    We have built an anaerobic digester, which converts almost all of the animal waste into compost and captures the methane byproduct, to be used as an alternative energy source at the Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex. We then use the compost material on grounds for our public gardens and landscaping.


    Green Restaurant Certified

    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.

    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.


    GreenFest

    In observance of the global holiday celebrating life on our planet, Earth Day, the DZS hosts our annual GreenFest celebration at the Detroit Zoo. This event includes demonstrations by our Green Team, conservation education, citizen science projects and exhibits by local conservation groups.

    In observance of the global holiday celebrating life on our planet, Earth Day, the DZS hosts our annual GreenFest celebration at the Detroit Zoo. This event includes demonstrations by our Green Team, conservation education, citizen science projects and exhibits by local conservation groups.

  • Energy

    A photo of a Solar Flower, a specialized device with solar panels arranged like a flower

    Solar Energy

    The smartflower, an all-in-one ground-mounted solar-panel system, is blooming in the garden just east of the wildlife Carousel at the Detroit Zoo and is estimated to generate more than 4,000 kilowatts of electricity annually. Based on the concept of how a sunflower follows the sun, the 16-by-16-foot system features 12 solar “petals” that trail the sun across the sky throughout the day via a GPS-based dual-axis tracker.


    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 illuminate the Zoo for our Wild Lights event.


    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; more than 60 bicycles are in use by our staff.


    Electric Powered Lawn Equipment

    The conversion to electric mowers, leaf blowers and hedge trimmers at the Zoo is both an environmental and an animal-friendly choice since the equipment does not emit exhaust or other pollutants. This helps us to further reduce our carbon footprint.

  • Water Management

    Green Roofs

    The Detroit Zoo has incorporated innovative sustainable infrastructure in the form of green roofs. A green roof provides a rainwater buffer, purifies the air, reduces the ambient temperature, regulates the indoor temperature, saves energy and encourages biodiversity by providing habitat for wildlife.


    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

    water-bottle-refill-station

    Water Bottle Phase-Out Program

    During your next trip to the Zoo, bring your own bottle or purchase an inexpensive one from any of our concession stands and fill up at one of our 21 free filtered-water stations. We are keeping 60,000 plastic bottles out of the waste stream annually by no longer selling plastic single-use water bottles.


    Trash and Recycling Containers

    We have acquired and placed more than 140 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.


    Electronic Waste Recycling

    We continue to host annual electronic waste collection events in celebration of America Recycles Day. The event held in November 2019 diverted more than 18 tons (36,000 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
    • 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 filtered 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