The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden boasts a huge, 6,400 panel solar array that spans nearly four acres in its parking lot. In addition to providing roughly 20 percent of the zoo’s electricity needs, the solar array provides tremendous shade for the visitors, and puts a spotlight on the green initiative the zoo is attempting to project to its guests.
While up and running since 2011, the solar project initially took some time to get off the ground. Start up costs were high, and the financing was difficult to figure out in the beginning. Through means of tax credits, accelerated depreciation, and debt financing, the zoo was able to take on the project with hopes of taking ownership of the solar array when the seven-year contract with the operating company expires.
Photo by Kathiann M. Kowalski
The solar array did more for the zoo than cut energy expenses, however. Mark Fisher, Vice President for Facilities, Planning, and Sustainability at the Zoo says, “It’s diversified our energy portfolio,” regarding the zoo’s other green expansion projects.
The zoo uses geothermal heat pumps to heat and cool plaza buildings and the new African Painted Dog exhibit is designed to use zero net energy and water. “For 2013, we spent less for utilities than we did in 2005,” notes Fisher. “And that’s with 25 percent more buildings.”
The Cincinnati Zoo has made a clear commitment to its green energy initiative and will prove the value of their investment over the next few years. Call our offices at 913.310.0705 to speak with an energy solutions expert to see how your facility can benefit from a comprehensive energy audit.
Source: Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News