GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — John Ball Zoo says it is working to earn the highest green building certification for its new pygmy hippo habitat.
“I think we’re all real familiar with LEED building … that’s been around for 25 years or so,” Allmon Forrester, the Grand Rapids zoo’s director of facilities, planning and sustainability, explained. “What we’re doing with this habitat is actually taking it to the next step further up from that, so it’s actually like LEED Platinum on steroids.”
The zoo said its efforts to get Living Building Challenge Petal certification for the pygmy hippo building included ensuring that all its materials are recyclable and don’t harm the environment. It uses geothermal heating and cooling, cutting energy use by 70% from baseline. Water usage was cut in half. Ninety-five percent of the waste created during construction was diverted from landfills.
“Part of the green building’s not only about what materials we use, what kind of energy consumption, water reduction we have, but also how people interact with the space,” Forrester said.
As part of that, the building has gender-neutral restrooms, a nursing room and footpaths with a gentle incline so they’re easy for everyone to navigate.
It will have some fancy features for the hippos and other species that will live there, including heated floors that will help them stay warm.
The habitat is slated to open to the public after Memorial Day.