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Helping communities and businesses access compliance, technical and financial assistance for their environmental needs.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the first organizations in Ohio to receive Ohio EPA's E3 Platinum Award. Their sustainability efforts include:

  • Adopting a sustainability policy in 2008, including achieving carbon neutrality and zero waste status, reducing energy and water use, and increasing recycling rates.
  • Calculating the carbon impact of their purchasing and operating decisions to help them prioritize decisions.
  • Partnering with many organizations supporting regional, national and international conservation, scientific and sustainability efforts.

Their environmental stewardship and education projects include:

  • Installing frictionless magnetic flux drives on water pumps (98.5 percent efficiency at full power).
  • Installing light-emitting plasma lamps.
  • Upgrading their Holiday Wildlights Wonderland display to LED holiday lighting.
  • Installing Ohio manufactured skylights inside their warehouse.
  • Installing a closed-loop geothermal water system and water recycling system for the Polar Frontier exhibit.

They achieve a 65 percent waste diversion rate including composting and recycling by:

  • Using non-potable water for irrigation.
  • Locally sourcing animal feed.
  • Composting food scraps and animal waste.
  • Reusing many materials in their exhibits by recycling fibers, tires, old barn timbers, plastic, vinyl and concrete.

Their Mapori Restaurant:

  • Is Four Star Green rated (one of three in Ohio) and LEED Certified.
  • Their menu includes the carbon footprint of the items, so diners can make informed choices.
  • Composts food wastes and uses bamboo dishes and trays.
  • Uses a storm water polishing system before releasing storm water.
  • Recycled 95 percent of construction material wastes and installed energy star appliances.

Sustainability projects implemented from 2011 to 2016 have a pay back of 2.2 years, with annual savings of more than $120,000. The Zoo recognizes that the projects have long lives and will continue to provide savings over time.

We will feature a case study of Washing Systems, our other platinum winner, in our next newsletter.

The E3 program provides four recognition levels: Achievement, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Any organization in Ohio may apply for membership. Applications are accepted annually and include both written and on-site evaluations. To be eligible, applicants must be in compliance with environmental laws and regulations.

If you’re interested in applying for an E3 award, visit or call (800) 329-7518. We would be glad to help guide you through the process and get your organization the recognition it deserves.

Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler (center) presents the E3 Platinum Level flag to Barbara Revard, Director of Sustainability, Columbus Zoo and Jim Balthaser, past Chair of the Columbus Zoo Board of Directors.