Greenovation+

Vol. 4 2013 Green Tourist Attractions

When you think of zoos, water parks and theme parks, the first word that comes to mind may not be “green”; but as soon as you step inside one of these tourist attractions, you are immediately surrounded by the consumption of energy and water. With numerous restrooms, ponds, pools, gardens and animal exhibits, it is difficult to imagine how facilities so large can contribute to sustainability. As we hope you will see in this article, many of these attractions are making an effort by adapting to green initiatives.

Landscaping

When it comes to green initiatives, the one area where many zoos are focusing their concentration on is water conservation.  As you walk down the pathways of a zoo, and peer through animal exhibits, you will often notice lush vegetation, green space, pools and ponds. Even though all of these features require water, they can still be incorporated into a zoo’s green initiative plan for water conservation[i].

Due to the vast amount of property at theme parks, the need for water conservation is a main area of concern. In 2007, water restrictions were implemented for the state of Florida, affecting such tourist attractions like  Disney World[ii]. In order to deal with these issues in the future, Disney has implemented their own water reclamation and conservation techniques[iii].

Potable water at Disney World originates from the Florida Aquifer, which is already very clean and only needs to be chlorinated[iv]. After the chlorination process, water is then distributed to gardens, golf courses, theme park and resort street wash downs, and bus washing[v].  Additionally Disney treats their water with ozone and ultraviolet light[vi]. This method is used for some of the fish systems throughout the resort.

 yourfirstvisit.net

Source: yourfirstvisit.net

To ensure that Disney’s gardens receive the optimal amount of water to grow and thrive, Disney has installed weather stations with “smart” controllers and rain sensors[vii]. These weather stations record the weather and calculate enviro-transpiration, which is the amount of water used by a plant[viii]. For example, if it is a cool, cloudy, and rainy day, the weather station’s computer recognizes this data and determines that no irrigation on the property is necessary. If it is a hot, dry day, the computer adjusts the irrigation controllers and the gardens receive irrigation[ix]. Overall, this saves money and ensures that water is not wasted.

Rainwater Harvesting and Rain Gardens

Rainwater harvesting works by collecting rainwater in a catchment area, which is then directed into filtration units. These filtration units consist of levels of sediment filters and ultra-violet light, which eliminate bacteria.[x]

Central Florida Zoo has incorporated rainwater harvesting into their sustainability program, which is used for irrigation and pressure washing. With the use of eight foot high water barrels, 1,200 gallons of water per every inch of rainfall can be collected[xi]. The zoo’s average monthly water bill is $1,300-1,600/month, but these barrels will save about $500/year[xii].

Travelling beyond our continent, you can find many examples of water conservation. Wet’nWild Water Park in Sydney, Australia will be opening their doors in December, 2013. Water efficiency is a top priority for them, and they plan to save more than 50 million liters of water/year. Rainwater and recycled stormwater will be used for the park’s irrigation, wash downs, and toilet flushing, saving roughly 30%[xiii].

 

Low Flow

gerber

49-111 Gerber High Efficiency Showerhead

With the large number of visitors that water parks attract, replacing an old showerhead with a low flow showerhead can save enormous energy. Low flow showerheads are relatively inexpensive, and when used frequently, payback is immediate[xiv]. The savings is so high that you can save up to half the water of a standard shower, and the quality of the shower will remain the same[xv].

Millions of people visit Disney Parks each year, and the question of whether or not to install electronic faucets or flow restrictors is clear. The newer low-flow models on the market today are extremely water efficient, with a low flow of 0.5 gallons per minute of water being dispersed.

 

 sloan-faucet  ST-2060-A-1.28 Specification
 EFX-275.500.0000 Sloan Basys Mid Faucet  WETS 2050.1201-1.28 SOLIS ®Sloan Wall Hung Toilet

Low flow toilets are another design alternative that tourist attractions should take advantage of. Great Wolf Lodge Resorts are water and energy conscious indoor water parks found throughout North America. Not only have they included low flow restrictors, faucets and showerheads, but they have also included low flow toilets at their resorts[xvi]. An average toilet uses 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf), however, “green” toilets can use as little as 1.28 gpf[xvii].

Pervious Surfaces

Cincinnati Zoo, also known by many as “the greenest zoo in America”, is one of the few zoos to incorporate pervious pavement in their parking lot. Pervious pavement works by allowing rainwater to pass through. By implementing this method, water can soak into the groundwater instead of creating stormwater runoff[xviii]. Within the Cincinnati Zoo, 30,000 square feet of pervious pavement is used at the main entrance, complete with a rainwater harvesting, storage, and irrigation reuse system[xix].

A second project for the Cincinnati Zoo was the African Savannah exhibit. The walkway and parking lot are made with pervious surfaces, and a 55,000-gallon underground storage facility is redistributed to an irrigation system, which will then replenish water into the bear’s pools, and in Swan Lake. It is estimated that between 12 and 15 million gallons of stormwater will be collected per year[xx].

Green Roofs

Toronto Zoo has incorporated green roofs at both their Tundra Exhibit and Australasia Pavilion. Their green roofs cover a span of 1,200 square feet and 5,000 square feet[xxi], and help cool the area during hot summer months, as well as provide sound insulation for both visitors and animals. With the 15 cm substrate layers, incoming sound is reduced by 40-45 decibels[xxii].

At Universal Studios, Singapore, 377,000 square feet of green roofs are used throughout the park. Their green roofs are similar to many other green roofs in that they provide insulation from warm temperatures, cool the buildings’ interiors, and exteriors, assist in better sound insulation and reduce urban heat island effect[xxiii], which is the increase in temperature in populated areas due to the high amounts of impervious surfaces.

In addition to green roofs at Universal Studios, Singapore, the use of double-layered ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) canopies are widely used throughout the resort[xxiv]. These canopies are situated over buildings, pathways, and other high traffic areas, reducing ambient temperatures and the need for high amounts of air conditioning.[xxv]

Conclusion

The thought of visiting a zoo, water park or theme park and seeing the amount of energy or water being used up may make some of us feel a bit uneasy. What we may not realize is, behind many of their doors, sustainable plans have been implemented in order to reduce costs and the negative impacts on our planet. As time passes, there is hope that more of these tourist attractions follow in the footsteps of such resorts like Great Wolf Lodge or Disney, and start making a difference.

 



[i] “Walt Disney World® Cutting Edge Conservation”. Blue Community. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171790/>

[ii]“Walt Disney World® Cutting Edge Conservation”. Blue Community. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171790/>

[iii]“Walt Disney World® Cutting Edge Conservation”. Blue Community. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171790/>

[iv]“Walt Disney World® Cutting Edge Conservation”. Blue Community. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171790/>

[v]“Walt Disney World® Cutting Edge Conservation”. Blue Community. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171790/>

[vi]“Walt Disney World® Cutting Edge Conservation”. Blue Community. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171790/>

[vii]“Walt Disney World® Cutting Edge Conservation”. Blue Community. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171790/>

[viii]“Walt Disney World® Cutting Edge Conservation”.  Blue Community. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171790/>

“Walt Disney World® Cutting Edge Conservation”.  Blue Community. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171790/>

[x] “Vol. 1 2009 – Rainwater Harvesting Technology”. Greenovation+. Web. 20 June 2013. <http://greenovation.atsspec.net/2009/10/01/vol-1-2009-rainwater-harvesting-technology/>

[xi]“Central Florida Zoo adds rainwater collection system”. Orlando Sentinel. Web 04 August 2013. <http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-01-21/news/os-zoo-new-rainwater-system-20110121_1_rain-barrels-water-conservation-central-florida-zoo>

[xii]“Central Florida Zoo adds rainwater collection system”. Orlando Sentinel. Web 04 August 2013. <http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-01-21/news/os-zoo-new-rainwater-system-20110121_1_rain-barrels-water-conservation-central-florida-zoo>

[xiii] “FAQ”. Wet N Wild Sydney. Web 06 August 2013. <http://wetnwildsydney.com.au/>

[xiv] “Use a Low Flow Showerhead”. BC Hydro for Generations. Web 02 April 2013. <http://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/residential/guides_tips/green-your-home.html>.

[xv]“Use a Low Flow Showerhead”. BC Hydro for Generations. Web 02 April 2013. <http://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/residential/guides_tips/green-your-home.html>.

[xvi] “Virginia Green Lodging”. DEQ. Web 02 August 2, 2013. <http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/PollutionPrevention/VirginiaGreen/Lodging/great_wolf_lodge.pdf>

[xvii] LEED Canada. “LEED® Canada For New Construction And Major Renovations 2009 – Rating System”. Web 23 April 2013. <http://www.cagbc.org/AM/PDF/LEED_Canada_NC_CS_2009_Rating_System-En-Jun2010.pdf>

[xviii] “Green Initiative”. Cincinatti Zoo & Botanical Garden. Web 02 August 2013. <http://cincinnatizoo.org/conservation/go-green/green-initiative/>.

[xix] “Green Initiative”. Cincinatti Zoo & Botanical Garden. Web 02 August 2013. <http://cincinnatizoo.org/conservation/go-green/green-initiative/>.

[xx] “Green Initiative”. Cincinatti Zoo & Botanical Garden. Web 02 August 2013. <http://cincinnatizoo.org/conservation/go-green/green-initiative/>.

[xxi] “Green Roofs”. Toronto Zoo. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.torontozoo.com/conservation/greenroof.asp>

[xxii] “Green Roofs”. Toronto Zoo. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.torontozoo.com/conservation/greenroof.asp>

[xxiii] “Harvard Graduate Student Housing at 29 Garden Street”. Greenroofs. Web 02 August 2013. <http://www.greenroofs.com/projects/pview.php?id=130>

[xxiv] “Green Efforts”. Resorts World Sentosa. Web 02 August 2013.< http://www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/Homepage/CorporateSocialResponsibility/Environment>

[xxv] “GPW. Universal Studios Singapore”. Greenroofs – Sky Gadens. Web 03 August 2013. <http://www.greenroofs.com/blog/2011/07/09/gpw-universal-studios-singapore/>