With her creativity and positive attitude, Margie Marks continues to be a force for positive change at the Zoo and in the community. Read on for an insider’s look into what the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is doing locally and globally for conservation and sustainability.
– Please share an example of how the Zoo has integrated sustainable practices in its operations that would be relevant to other organizations or businesses relative to resource conservation, employee care, or operational efficiencies and savings.
Our commitment to sustainability is two-fold: we operate as a green organization while also educating our visitors on how they can reduce their own carbon footprint. Through recycling programs, composting animal and plant waste, and sustainable building and cleaning practices, we recognize the role that we play as a community leader in sustainability. In the past 2 years alone, we’ve installed a wind spire turbine, solar pedestrian light poles, twenty solar panels and an electric vehicle charging station as part of the Zoo Admission and Entrance Area Sustainability project. Ultimately, this area will become energy independent, relying only on wind and solar power. We also offer educational programs for schools on the topics of climate change and sustainability.
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium strives to involve all of our staff in our sustainability efforts. This includes looking at areas that could be improved as well as informing our Green Team on emerging technology or efforts that they have encountered elsewhere.
Everything we do at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has conservation at its core and serves as a model for environmental stewardship. The Zoo’s green initiative called One Degree of Change enhances the sustainability of the Pittsburgh region by encouraging individuals to make small and environmentally friendly changes to their lifestyles. When individuals throughout the region embrace these small changes, collectively they will make a significant and positive impact.
Leading by example is an important cornerstone of the One Degree of Change initiative. At the Zoo, the program has taken on a life of its own. It has become an encompassing belief that we can all do a little bit better, and that we have an obligation to do so. It’s the belief that future generations should have the same opportunity that we have had to discover the beauty, wonder, and irreplaceable value of life on our planet.
– What would leaders be surprised to know about the Zoo’s own sustainability challenges and opportunities?
Leaders would be surprised to know that ultimately sustainability, and the broader realm of conservation, plays into every facet of what we do on Zoo grounds and through our global programs. It’s very easy for our visitors to see the local sustainability progress that we have made. Wind spires and solar panels greet visitors the moment they enter the Zoo. What visitors might not know is that we are currently directing, conducting, or supporting 73 conservation-driven projects across the world. All of them have a focus on animals but not necessarily directly. We understand that habitat restoration and education are integral to saving the natural world. Did you know: projects conducted with support from the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and its PPG Conservation and Sustainability Fund planted more than 38,000 native tree and plant species to help preserve ecosystems in Africa and Central America? We also have several projects that are re-educating communities on sustainable farming practices which had been lost due to their shifted dependence on bush meat. So not only are we active in making ourselves a local leader in sustainability, we are also committed to the making sustainability a focus in all of our global programs.