basecamp CINCINNATI (September 8, 2015) – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is excited to announce that Base Camp Café has earned the “greenest restaurant in America” title for 2015 according to the Green Restaurant Association (GRA).

The GRA awards points for environmental categories including energy, water, food, waste, disposables, furnishings and building materials. A 4-star rating requires 300 points, and the Base Camp Cafe received 462, “a truly phenomenal accomplishment,” according to Michael Oshman of GRA.

aquaponicsBase Camp Café, located in the Zoo’s Africa exhibit and operated by System Service Associates (SSA), sources 70% of its produce from vendors who are within 100-250 miles of the zoo. Much of it is grown at the Zoo-owned EcOhio farmland in Mason in partnership with Green Bean Delivery, which supplies the Zoo and  Zoo campers with organically-grown produce. A greenhouse just outside the restaurant provides year-round fresh vegetables through an aquaponics system. (Zoo staff created a so-bad-it’s-good music video and rap to explain how aquaponics works!)

Additional Base Camp Café sustainability features include:

  • LED lighting and natural lighting throughout building.
  • Recycled 1930s building to divert construction waste from landfills.
  • 95% of all post consumer waste from the Café is diverted from landfills.
  • Uses certified grass-fed burgers from White Clover Farms.
  • Most of the equipment in the restaurant is Energy Star rated.
  • Old grease is turned into biofuels.
  • Furniture is made of plantation-grown teak.

basecampviewThe Cincinnati Zoo models effective ways to “Go Green” because it is good for the community and good for the world. “Huge problems like habitat loss and climate change will only be solved by hundreds of millions of better, more informed, decisions being made every day across America,” says Zoo Director Thane Maynard.

Over the past nine years, the Cincinnati Zoo has become nationally known as “The Greenest Zoo in America” and it has the numbers to back it up.  The Zoo uses 1/3 the water that it used in 2006, when it began a big sustainability push. Though the Zoo has added 25% more buildings, animal exhibits, and facilities since then, it uses LESS electricity and natural gas. The Zoo has saved one BILLION gallons of water since 2006, enough to provide water (indoor and outdoor use) for 10,000 households for a year.