How did you celebrate Earth Day? Here in Fargo, USGBC North Dakota was partying with the Red River Zoo at its annual Party for the PlanetTM event by hosting a Green Apple Day of Service within the event.
Party for the Planet is hosted by members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums throughout the United States and Canada. The event is an opportunity to celebrate Earth’s biodiversity and teach people how they can act to make a difference in their own communities.
The partnership between USGBC North Dakota and the Red River Zoo began in 2016, when USGBC held a board leadership training opportunity in Fargo. Included in the schedule was a visit to the zoo, where our board members learned about the sustainable strategies being implemented there.
So, when we began reviewing activities to celebrate Earth Day, the Party for the Planet came to the forefront and we asked “How can USGBC help highlight the zoo’s accomplishments and provide education about sustainability and LEED?”
That question led to the idea of the LEED Scavenger Hunt, in which a station associated with each LEED credit category would highlight a strategy used at the Red River Zoo. At Party for the Planet, each station included an informational poster and hints to answer the question on the scavenger hunt list. Once a station was found, the participant then answered a question, most of which related to activities the participant could do at home. The stations included the following:
- Location and Transportation: Highlighted carpooling, use of public transportation and cycling. The local public transit system MATbus system also had one of its buses on display.
- Sustainable Sites: Highlighted stormwater management. The zoo has a rain garden on site, which has information from Riverkeepers, located in Fargo.
- Water Efficiency: Highlighted the use of rainwater collection and storage systems at the zoo and how the collected water is used for gardens and plants.
- Energy and Atmosphere: Highlighted the geothermal system at the zoo’s carousel building and the reduced energy consumption from its use.
- Materials and Resources: Highlighted the use of salvaged materials for the new opossum exhibit and the reuse of a building materials for a porch at one of the exhibit buildings.
- Indoor Environmental Quality: Highlighted the access to views and daylight within buildings—with a great view from the cabin building to the wolf exhibit.
- Innovation: Highlighted the gardening and composting program at the zoo. The zoo receives donated produce from a retailer, using what it can for feeding animals with any food waste being used for compost. That compost is then used for gardening programs.
- Regional Priority: Highlighted local animals, such as porcupines, prairie dogs and white-tailed deer and their habitats in North Dakota.
The event provided a fun educational opportunity for the younger citizens of North Dakota, and in listening to the conversations between parents and their kids about sustainability, it succeeded in its mission.