Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's African Elephant Crossing exhibit is now Gold certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program. The LEED program is the nationally accepted construction industry standard for green buildings, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council.
�Achieving LEED Gold certification is a great testament to the careful planning and execution that went into African Elephant Crossing,� said Executive Zoo Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. �The Zoo is committed to promoting sustainability, and we knew from the beginning of the exhibit's design process that we had an opportunity to deliver two important messages, one of protecting wildlife and one of protecting the environment.�
Construction projects achieve LEED certification based on a point scale assigned to all phases of the project, from design to construction to operation. Points are awarded for best practices in energy use, environmental impact, use of local resources, reduction of greenhouse gases, sustainability and other factors. The point total results in one of four designations, from Certified up to Silver, Gold and Platinum. The Zoo's architecture and exhibit design partner in African Elephant Crossing, clr Design, was instrumental in keeping the project focused and on track to achieve LEED certification.
Some key factors that contributed to the exhibit's Gold certification include: more than 90 percent of construction waste was recycled and diverted from a landfill, about a third of the materials used to build the exhibit came from recycled materials, and the exhibit's state-of-the-art water filtration system cut water usage from about 26.3 million gallons per year to about 7.5 million.
The Zoo's commitment to sustainability for African Elephant Crossing helped secure two grants through the Cleveland Zoological Society that made pursuing LEED certification financially possible, a $1 million grant from the George Gund Foundation and a $725,000 challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation.
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with hours extended to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $12.25 per person, $8.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.
For more information, visit clemetzoo.com or call (216) 661-6500.