Sustainability at Denver Zoo

Our planet faces great challenges, many of which threaten the earth’s health and biodiversity. Denver Zoo has a rich and meaningful heritage as an organization committed to the conservation of animals across the globe and as a leader in the animal care field. Our commitment to species conservation extends to our commitment to protect the environment and our Denver Zoo community through our sustainability programs embodied in our third party certified Sustainable Management System (SMS)*. 

At Denver Zoo our goal is to operate in the most environmentally, socially and economically friendly manner possible. We are taking positive action to secure a healthy planet for both animals and humans.

Seven Priority Focal Areas

Denver Zoo’s sustainability programs support actions to mitigate the impact of climate change and other sustainability issues in an effort to protect wild animals and wild places.

Denver Zoo is working towards establishing targets for our seven priority focal areas.

For example, Denver Zoo has set a target for our waste diversion focal area to be a Zero Waste Campus by 2025.

*Denver Zoo’s Sustainable Management System is third party certified to ISO 14001:2015 and OHSAS 18001

Design for Resilience

...through responsible building and maintenance techniques. Here's what Denver Zoo is doing:

  • Designed to LEED Platinum Toyota Elephant Passage buildings with more to come.
  • New buildings incorporate water waste management system.

Social Leadership

...within Denver Zoo and the surrounding communities. Here's what Denver Zoo is doing:

  • Employees are educated on sustainable living practices via lunch-and-learns, staff meetings, and department meetings.
  • Development of employee commuter tracking software called EcoWheels.
  • Saved on average 39 tons/year of GHG emissions by using alternative transportation.
  • EcoPass benefit for staff.
  • Pollinator garden on site.
Sustainability Stable Economic Growth at Denver Zoo

Stable Economic Growth

...with limited social and economic impacts. Here's what Denver Zoo is doing:

  • Grow our own browse (animal food).

Reducing Grid Reliance

...and energy demand. Here's what Denver Zoo is doing:

  • All ZooLights are LED with timers, reducing power consumption.
  • Conducted energy assessment of over 30 buildings and exhibits
  • Zoo-wide lighting retrofit to become 100% LED.
  • Achieved 45% energy reduction in the parking garage.

Water Stewardship

...and responsible use. Here's what Denver Zoo is doing:

  • Water fountains converted to water bottle refill stations to encourage refillable bottles.
  • Denver Zoo decreased water use by 60%, resulting in a cumulative savings of 2.5 billion gallons of water over the past 15 years.
  • 15% of the water associated with irrigation, cleaning and building operation is recycled.
  • New buildings incorporate water waste management system.
  • Conversion of landscaping to water-wise.

Divert Waste

...and promote a circular economy. Here's what Denver Zoo is doing:

  • Campus-wide composting program.
  • Goal to be Zero Waste by 2025.
  • Composting and trash receptacles in park and offices.
  • Compressed Natural Gas(CNG) Denver Zoo vehicles.
  • New buildings incorporate water waste management system.
  • 60% of our waste stream is diverted from the landfill.
Sustainability diverting waste at Denver Zoo

Responsible Sourcing

...of materials and services. Here's what Denver Zoo is doing:

  • Internal purchasing system offering sustainable product choices.
  • Development of internal purchasing platform to improve the sustainability of Denver Zoo’s supply chain for both materials and food.
  • Gift shops are plastic bag-free