Sustainability Master Planning at Zoos & Aquariums

Zoos and aquariums are adopting and advancing sustainability goals at a record pace, and Verdis Group is committed to continuing our partnership with zoos and aquariums by guiding inclusive processes that accelerate climate action.

As we gear up for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums 2021 Annual Conference happening next week, we spoke with our friend Wanda Kolo, the Director of Sustainable Operations & Construction Management at the St. Louis Zoo, about what to expect.

As respected community institutions, zoos and aquariums have an incredible opportunity to model behaviors that support their mission of animal and habitat conservation. As the go-to person on sustainability at the St. Louis Zoo, Wanda has seen this evolution first-hand, with more of the Zoo’s peers exploring their carbon footprints in addition to conducting conservation research in the field.

This year’s virtual AZA conference offers several sessions focused on sustainability. Verdis Group will host a panel on Monday, September 20, at 3 p.m. CST where leaders from the Seattle Aquarium, Dallas Zoo, and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium will discuss the process of co-creating a Sustainability Master Plan with Verdis Group and how it is catalyzing action at their institution.

Wanda, who is also the Director of the Oglebay Sustainability Institute, said she’s seen the industry’s dedication to climate action grow especially since the AZA began requiring sustainability planning for accreditation. “One of the biggest benefits, I think, to creating a (Sustainability Master Plan) is that the value is in the process of bringing people together to have these critical conversations across an organization,” Wanda said. “People across departments are able to put that sustainably lens on and think about how (their) piece of the operation is aligning with the collective mission. I’ve definitely seen a lot of hopeful progress there.”

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