Cincinnati Zoo Takes Gold

Posted February 19, 2010

CINCINNATI, OH The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is proud to announce that the Vine Street Village Pavilion & transportation hub received a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) NC Gold certification – the second highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).  This new Metro hub is incorporated into the Vine Street parking lot and is the first LEED certified hub in the nation.

This new, green transportation hub helps to not only maintain the Cincinnati Zoo’s reputation as the greenest zoo in the country but also highlights the venture of Metro to make Cincinnati a greener city. “Metro plays a vital part in our community’s efforts to protect the environment,” said Marilyn Shazor, Metro’s CEO.  “We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden for its strong commitment to environmental sustainability and for partnering with us on Metro’s first LEED-certified transit hub.”

This is the Zoo’s third LEED award and their first LEED Gold certification. The Cincinnati Zoo is the first zoo in the country with multiple LEED projects.  The Cincinnati Zoo recently was awarded LEED NC Platinum certification for their Historic Vine Street Village – only the 2nd zoo in the country and the 1st in the City of Cincinnati, to receive this honor. The Zoo’s first LEED-certified building (and the first Silver-certified building in Cincinnati) was its Harold C. Schott Education Center, which opened in 2006.

Green building not only provides an obvious, direct, and positive impact on the environment; from lower emissions of greenhouse gases to less storm water entering the sewer system and diverting construction waste from the landfill, but also offers long term financial sustainability. Thanks in large part to the Zoo’s commitment to green building, the Zoo has dramatically lowered its utility bills saving, with savings over the last four years totaling $1.5 million.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures. It emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, materials & resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation & design process.

Inspired by the Zoo’s original architect James McLaughlin, the Pavilion was designed by Cornette-Violetta Architects, LLC and built by HGC Construction.  Some of the green highlights include:

Reduce, reuse & recycle are important connects of the Pavilion & Hub design as:

  • 30% of the building materials were recycled
  • Over 60% of the building materials were purchased locally, reducing the fuel costs of shipping.
  • More than 80% of the wood used is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as sustainably harvested.
  • Over 80% of construction waste was sent to recycling centers for reuse.
  • Waterless urinals and highly water-efficient toilets and faucets use 50% less water than standard facilities.
  • The site has direct connection to multiple routes of a major public transportation network which can alleviate the use of private automobiles to access the Zoo.
  • The site uses a redeveloped property versus a currently vegetated property.
  • The site was designed to maximize open spaces and maximizes the use of vegetation in unused areas.
  • Roof and pavement surfaces were chosen that reflect rather than absorb the sun’s energy thereby reducing the heat island effect common to developed properties.
  • Landscaping was designed to require minimal quantities of water from irrigation.
  • The building uses enhanced ventilation rather than air conditioning for occupant comfort.
  • Paints and moisture coatings were used that comply with the most stringent VOC limits.
  • Using several large rain gardens, the site is able to capture 100% of the rainwater that hits the site.

In addition to its multiple LEED-certified buildings, the Cincinnati Zoo has been the recipient of numerous other “green” awards.  The Cincinnati Zoo was named the 2008 Conservation Partner of the Year by the Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District and received the Cincinnati Sustainability Award from the American Institute of Architects in 2009.

HGC Construction, the team responsible for building these LEED facilities, recently won the Associated Builders and Contractors’ National Pyramid Award for Excellence in Construction for its construction of the Zoo’s Historic Vine Street Village. The national award was presented to HGC Construction as part of ABC’s 20th annual Awards of Excellence program, the premiere competition within the construction industry that recognizes outstanding construction projects across the nation.

To learn more about how you can “Go Green”.  Experience the wonders of the Zoo’s new energy efficient technology, while also enjoying the animals and sights that we all know and love.