All zoo bond projects aim to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver certification, but with the Education Center, staff raised the bar and expect to achieve LEED Gold. The zoo is pursuing International Living Future Institute (ILFI) net-zero energy building certification and this may be one of the first buildings in Portland to do so. The center also features earth-friendly water saving features and wildlife-friendly design.
Here are a few examples:
- With 760 solar panels funded in part by a grant from PGE’s Renewable Development Fund, the center is expected to be net zero, meaning it produces as much electricity as it uses.
- High efficiency lighting and HVAC systems are controlled through a digital control system, which helps save energy.
- The Nature Exploration Station is warmed by energy-efficient radiant floor heating.
- By using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products, the center helped promote sustainable forest management, protect water quality, and prevent loss of natural forest cover.
- Bird-friendly lights and acid-etched glass helps prevent and deter window strikes.
- Landscaping with 90 species of Willamette Valley native plants requires less irrigation and provides food and shelter for native wildlife.
- The Wildlife Garden shelter and bee hotel both feature green roofs.
- Rain water, collected from the roof, is stored in a 10,000-gallon underground storage tank and will be used to flush toilets and urinals.
- Rain gardens clean and detain storm water before it is released into the city's storm system.
- The nature play area, landscape gates and wildlife garden shelter incorporate wood salvaged from the old Elephant Museum building. The pavers in the wildlife garden are salvaged from the old elephant plaza picnic area.