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Denver Zoo earns environmental recognition

Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
Denver, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado “-The Denver Zoo has become the first zoo in the United States to earn an ISO-14001 certification for the entire zoo.

The certification is the international standard for environmental management systems.

The certification by NSF International is considered an honor, Denver city officials said today.



The certification, said Craig Piper, the zoo’s president, is a commitment by the zoo to minimize the negative environmental impact of its operations while simultaneously reducing costs, increasing regulatory compliance and overall efficiency.

To turn the zoo into an even more environmentally friendly place, Piper said that the zoo is hiring a new and permanent “green coordinator” whose job will be to coordinate and manage the zoo’s environmental practices.



Further, said Piper, the zoo has embarked on an aggressive program to minimize its impact on the environment.

“We are a large user of water. In the last 10 years, we’ve cut our water usage over 50 percent,” he said at a news conference at the zoo. “We went from over 300 million gallons a year to less than 150 million gallons a year.”

He said the zoo has done other things to reduce the zoo’s negative environmental footprint by “buying products that are locally produced, locally available and not being transported across the world.”



The zoo also provides Eco Passes to all regular full-time and part-time employees, thereby promoting an ecologically-sound option for commuting through RTD public transit.

But perhaps the greatest environmental initiative being undertaken by the zoo centers around the new “Asian Tropics” exhibit, a 10-acre redevelopment dedicated to elephant and rhino conservation.

“We will be able to utilize 90 percent of the zoo’s entire waste – animal waste, trash from our visitors, our own operations – and keep it right here on our property and convert it into energy that will be utilized to operate that facility (the Asian Tropics),” said Piper.

“We estimate it will reduce our contribution to local landfill by 1.5 million pounds per year,” he added.

The Asian Tropics will include a gasification power plant that will create energy from a zoo “waste stream.”

By using 90 percent of the trash from visitors and employees as well as the animal waste, the zoo is taking a “giant step closer to becoming a ‘zero-waste’ facility,” said Piper.

Mayor John Hickenlooper said the certification “is a great honor for the city and carries with it an ongoing responsibility to do our part to make and keep Denver a sustainable community.

“We are up to the task – managing to the ISO-14001 standards is consistent with the goals of our Greenprint Denver initiative and will help us protect our environment, improve our operations and save money as well,” said the mayor

The certification includes a set of environmental management standards to identify and manage environmental impacts that may result from the conduct of zoo business.

The North Carolina Zoo received an ISO 14001 certification in December 2002, but only for certain parts of the facility.


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