Furthering its commitment and taking on a new sustainability challenge

The Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program that aims to promote the development of regenerative buildings that give more than they take. The certification program is based on seven performance areas called "Petals," which include Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. This certification provides a framework for creating sustainable, regenerative buildings that contribute positively to their environment and community. 

Through their sustainability practices, educational opportunities, support of far-reaching conservation efforts and their participation in Species Survival Plans, John Ball Zoo seeks to not only protect the wildlife under its care but also to conserve the environment. Bill Flanagan, a conservation manager, previously shared with Rapid Growth Media, “[the Zoo] is committed to saving wildlife, wild places and connecting communities to conservation … [and] dedicates 3% of its revenue to conservation impact for animals in the wild.”

Slated to open later this year, the new pygmy hippo habitat and multispecies exhibit at the Zoo seeks to attain Living Building Challenge Petal certification.

In a recent news release, Allmon Forrester, director of facilities, planning and sustainability says the Zoo, “is proud to take on the challenge of achieving our Living Building Challenge Petal certification, because we are deeply committed to conserving resources and wildlife and protecting our planet through sustainability.”

This commitment is not a new focus for the Zoo. Through efforts including reclaiming spaces, building to green standards, utilizing geothermal energy, composting and recycling, the Zoo continues to focus on conservation.

To achieve Petal certification, a building must meet a set of requirements and performance criteria in each of the seven Petals. To meet these standards, certification is based on actual performance, not anticipated or modeled results. As such, a building must demonstrate that it has been in operation for at least 12 consecutive months before completing its audit and it has achieved all of the necessary standards.

In efforts to ensure compliance, the Zoo, along with the project team, have reviewed each piece of material being used within the development to ensure no harmful chemicals will be emitted and that materials can be recycled. Materials from a prior Zoo building are being reused. Additionally, steps have been taken to reduce both water and energy usage as well as to divert 95% of project waste from the landfill.

“The Zoo is for everyone, and we want to be the best stewards we can, so people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and walks of life can enjoy John Ball Zoo for generations to come,” Forrester says.

Photos courtesy of Tyler Herbstreith

About Leandra Nisbet: Leandra Nisbet, Owner of Stingray Advisory Group LLC and Co-Owner of Brightwork Marine LLC, has over 15 years of experience in leadership, sales & marketing, and graphic design. She helps businesses grow and assists with: strategic planning, marketing concept development/implementation, risk management, and financial organization. She is actively involved in the community, sitting on several Boards and committees, and has been recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 Business Leaders in Grand Rapids.

Contact Leandra Nisbet by email at [email protected]!
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