The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden long ago set its sights on becoming the most environmentally conscious zoo in the United States. The organization has announced that it’s on track to become the first zoo to achieve net zero energy, waste and water status.  Achieving that status means the facility will consume only as much energy as it produces, use only as much water as it collects and not send anything to the landfill. The Cincinnati Zoo set the net zero goal back in 2018 as part of its More Home to Roam capital campaign. Back then they viewed it as attainable by 2025. But as of Friday they believe they can accomplish the feat sooner.

Though he didn’t provide an expected completion date, Mark Fisher, the zoo’s vice president of facilities and sustainability, said the zoo is already so far along with its progress that getting to net zero status before 2025 is well within reach. “For a long time, we assured people that 100% sustainable is attainable,” Fisher said. “It is, but why stop there if we know we can do better? We can produce more than 100% of the energy that we need and share the additional power with our neighbors.”

The process really got started back in 2011 when the zoo installed a 1.56-megawatt solar array over its main parking lot. It plans to build another solar array over a new surface lot this summer and then install a battery storage system. Doing so will enable the zoo to create its own energy microgrid. A 25-megawatt array, that’s 16 times the size of the Zoo’s parking lot structure, is being erected at the Zoo’s Bowyer Farm and will move the site from net zero to net positive, meaning they’re producing more energy than they’re using.

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Author: Casey 
Seldom, Spectrum News 1
Image: Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden