The Toronto Zoo has a strong record of environmental protection and of energy efficient operations management. We have motivated staff and volunteers that understand the importance of living sustainably in balance with nature. We understand and accept that climate change is a real threat to Earth’s biodiversity, and we encourage people to lessen their ecological footprint on the Earth. By setting a positive example and promoting public awareness of environmental issues, the Toronto Zoo will be viewed as an important source of information and inspiration for individual and group action against climate change.
In 2007, the Toronto Zoo published its Green Plan renewing its commitment to demonstrate environmental leadership in all aspects of our operations, including sustainable growth and maintenance. To date, the Toronto Zoo has achieved 25 of the 27 action steps identified in the Green Plan and has made significant movement toward achieving its 2027 targets for energy, water and waste management on-site.
In 2018, the Toronto Zoo implemented an ISO14001 compliant environmental management system providing a framework to actively reduce our negative environmental impacts and ensure we are able to achieve the following environmental targets while providing a balance with other operational needs and services.
By 2027, the Toronto Zoo shall:
reduce greenhouse gas emissions (as represented by CO2e) by 95% below 1990 levels;
reduce water consumption by 40% below 1990 levels; and
divert more than 70% of waste generated each year from landfill.
Our environmental sustainability strategy engages all Zoo staff, volunteers, program partners and vendors to support our Conservation Vision of saving wildlife to ensure the rich diversity of nature for future generations.
GREEN PRIORITIES ON OUR PATH TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Sustainability & Purchasing
Responsible sourcing practices used at the Toronto Zoo include the consideration of the “cradle-to-grave” impact of all products or services. Giving preference to products or services that are deemed to be environmentally superior helps to achieve many of our green priorities.
Working to reduce, re-use and recycle in as many ways as we can, the Toronto Zoo is striving to be a leader in achieving the goals of the Province of Ontario’s Zero Waste Strategy. We are continuously looking for opportunities to divert items from landfill and have incorporated the following into our waste management strategy.
The Toronto Zoo occupies 287 hectares of valley, river, forest, field and meadow ecosystems at the edge of the Rouge National Urban Park within the Rouge River Watershed. We provide beautifully wild and ecologically sustainable spaces for staff, guests, our animal ambassadors and the diverse wildlife of the Rouge River Watershed.
Progressive development of the Zoo property to support wildlife conservation programs and work of the Toronto Zoo involves commitment to management and rehabilitation of the site and of critical habitats for local species at risk as well as help to mitigate climate change as with our Zookeeper initiative Acres for the Atmosphere.
Newly opened in 2017, the Wildlife Health Centre at the Toronto Zoo is a prime example of constructing green. Built to Tier 2 of the City of Toronto Green Building Standards, the Wildlife Health Centre contains 13 green infrastructure initiatives:
leading-edge sustainable construction techniques, materials and technology;
5113 ft2 of green roof;
cooling roofing features to reduce urban heat island effect;
insulated foundation walls
low flow fixtures
heat recovery system
bird friendly glazing on all transparent windows;
removal of suspended solids in storm water; and
low impact development with permeable pavers and water efficient planting;
all constructed using the footprint of the old facility where possible.
In the past we have utilized features of the Zoo to increase awareness about the value of renewable energy technologies; however we are currently taking a step back from the solar panel and geothermal educational displays to invest in the renewal of the Zoo’s facilities. Upgrading existing energy services with more efficient systems is the Zoo’s current energy reduction priorities. Although not glamorous, it is a valuable step to reducing our overall carbon footprint. For the convenience of guests and staff, the Zoo is researching renewable energy production on site, electric vehicle charging stations and engagement opportunities to reduce our resource consumption for the future.
Energy Efficiency projects we are proud of, include:
Cooling Tower on the Zootique Gift Shop & Education Building;
Adding Variable Frequency Drives to the motors and pumps in the Indo-Malaya Pavilion has reduced energy consumption for the building by 50%;
We are proud of the efforts of Zoo staff and volunteers in helping us to surpass our 2027 water reduction target of a 40% reduction below 1990 levels since 2011. The changes made by our staff and volunteers in how they do their jobs accounts for approximately 85% of this reduction. Re-evaluating our objectives and targets, the Zoo can and will see more water consumption reductions. Investment in facility upgrades as well as investment in grey water opportunities such as the recently installed rain harvesting system for the Horticulture branch are key priorities in the near future.
Supporting our commitment to prevent pollution, we restrict the use of pesticides on site, opting for the use of ecological control methods for landscaping and bio-controls to help keep pests under control in the pavilions and greenhouses. To better manage our chemicals, we maintain an electronic database linked to a Globally Harmonized System for chemical management. We source, where possible, Ecologo certified or Plant-based products and are continuously evaluating new alternatives.
Educating the public and our staff about the environmental consequences of our actions is a key component of the Toronto Zoo conservation mission of inspiring passion to protect wildlife and habitats.
The Toronto Zoo walks the talk on protecting wildlife and wild spaces. Increasing our communications on the actions we have taken to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment leads the broader community with practical examples of just how it can be done and supports our conservation message that everyone has a valuable role in the fight against climate change.
Engagement & Innovations
Being green is part of everyone’s job here at the Toronto Zoo. We value the actions and suggestions from our staff and volunteers towards making our Zoo the Greenest Zoo in Canada. We challenge all personnel to make innovative strides by using tools and programs such as Partners in Project Green’s People Power Challenge. Our team has proven themselves time again with top awards each year we participated in the People Power Challenge. The two runner up and one winning placements raised funds to help pay for a Rain Harvest system. We encourage our staff to find low-carbon emitting forms of transportation, including our carpool program, to reduce, reuse and recycle as well as create innovative workshops to engage our visitors in becoming more green.
In our continued efforts to reduce our ecological footprint, the Zoo has produced a Wildlife Conservation and Sustainable Living Guide detailing our practices and policies. To view the report please click here for the PDF.
The Ice Bear storage technology is the Zoo's latest green technology and can be seen just outside the Caribou café. The unit stores energy at night, when demand on the grid is low. It then uses this energy during the day in the building's air conditioning system.
In June 2008 the Toronto Zoo opened its first geothermal exhibit for the lion-tailed macaques! This exhibit uses the earth's energy to heat and cool itself throughout the year. Visitors can have hands on experience with this innovative technology and feel the mulch temperature just outside of the exhibit!