John Ball Zoo became the first zoo in the world to be awarded a SITES Gold certification under the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) rating system for its meerkat exhibition.
The certification recognizes landscapes, site infrastructure and spaces that have demonstrated environmental and social sustainability in their planning, design, construction and maintenance. Certified SITES projects use fewer resources by using durable, recycled and reclaimed content, materials and supplies that are regionally sourced.
“By being the first zoo in the world to receive SITES Gold certification, it speaks to John Ball Zoo’s strong dedication to our pillar of conservation,” said Peter D’Arienzo, chief executive officer for John Ball Zoo.
Along with meerkats and African cape porcupines, the exhibit also has sustainable features including a manual irrigation system that uses 100% native plantings, some of which were grown from locally harvested seeds from Plaster Creel Stewards. The meerkat exhibit uses rain gardens and leaching basins from storm water. It also has a green roof and solar panels on the canopy to offset outdoor lighting need.
Recycled materials were used during construction whenever it was possible. CO2 emissions were eliminated through the use of an energy recovery ventilation unit.
The zoo will continue to have plants grown, improved soils and habitats developed to continue to meet the requirements for SITES Gold certification.
“By building a meerkat exhibit to SITES certification, John Ball Zoo is reducing water demand, filtering and reducing storm water runoff, providing wildlife habitat, reducing energy consumption, improving air quality, improving human health, and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities,” D’Arienzo added.