Monday, March 27, 2017

AZA Green Summit Day 1

The Green Scientific Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums holds a Summit at the annual Mid-Year meeting. This is the third year I have attended. All have been very valuable but this one knocks the ball out of the park!

The 100+ attendees is the largest group yet. Everyone had something to learn and something to contribute - what a great bunch of people.

First we had an update on all the good green work of the GSAG, including the annual report of members. The snapshot above is a summary, but there is more cool material in the Annual Report on Conservation and Science. The bedrock of the online material are the links to the Green Guides, Volumes 1 & 2.  Check them out here. The volunteer leaders are a great resource. GSAG members helped an AZA member find their water meter information online when the city wouldn't give it to them (they are city-owned). It was linked to from the city's budget page.

The presenters spoke to a range of zoo sizes and green experience, taking care to be sure everyone could find good answers and inspiration in their material. Here are my big takeaways:

  • Abilene Zoo - Do you have a local chapter of Keep America Beautiful that may be able to help with some of your community engagement projects? 
  • St. Louis Zoo - The challenge of receiving quarterly bills delays your anomaly-response time by months. Argue for monthly bills or for metering connected to your Building Automation/Management System (BAS/BMS) so you can spot spikes in use quickly and remedy the leak right away. The Zoo has great plans to steadily increase metering and automation to be able to respond in real time all the time. Great ROI.
  • Shedd Aquarium - Smart Operator Training means your BAS/BMS staff not only recognize problems promptly but they become the super team to strategize and manage peak shaving and other activities that save a lot of money and lengthen the life of the equipment. 
  • Denver Zoo - They have used some portable water meters for temporary measurement that helps site-specific monitoring to help change behavior. If a keeper attaches it to a hose and does a regular habitat wash down, it's easy to see how water-intensive that practice is -- and easier to cut back on that form of water use. 
  • Palm Beach has an awesome CUA program: Connect/Understand/Act that guides their conservation messaging design in keeper talks and animal shows. These clear simple guides provide conservation messages that support habitat and therefor wildlife. Their guidelines for simple messages, no more than three, and all with action items within public reach, are just great. Ask Dave Ruhl to share them with you. 
  • Sacramento Zoo - They described their steady approach to building green team participation starting with only 500 bucks a year. A real inspiration. 
  • Vancouver Aquarium - Shared a rock-your-world report on how to embed sustainability in the culture of an organization. The long version is here with best practices. I'll be back at you soon with more on this awesome tool. 
  • California Academy of Sciences - As always, very cool stuff developing there, including some great educational tools and processes for connecting with the audience for action. I'll be back at you soon with more of these as they roll them out.
What a great day!

UPDATE: Here's what the next day's sessions taught us.

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