Energy and CO2 in Rotterdam Zoo
by Constance Alderlieste
For many years sustainability is high on the agenda of Rotterdam Zoo. The prime goal of Rotterdam Zoo is nature conservation which is closely connected with environmental protection. That is why Rotterdam Zoo has decided to change over to green energy.
Rotterdam Zoo aims at only using green-energy within a few years. What’s more Rotterdam Zoo likes to become self supporting by generating CO2-neutral sources. To inspire others, particularly our visitors (approx. 1.5 million) there are examples of sustainable projects in various parts of the zoo.
Sun is cooling penguins
In January 2004 a large solar power station has been installed on the roof of the Oceanium consisting of no less than 3400 solar panels. Enough to provide some 100 households with electricity. Quite an eye-catcher when driving along the Zoo. Besides it is the biggest solar power station within the built-up area in The Netherlands.
In a zoo it’s all about animals of course. Therefore the sun-energy is used to cool the King penguin exhibit. Because the project is visible in the direct surroundings it also has an important educational function. In two places in the zoo attention is paid to the application of solar panels.
Woodshavings are warming crocodiles and giraffes
Another example of a sustainable technique can be found near the new Savannah House. Observant visitors may have wondered why there is an enormous pile of wood shavings underneath the footbridge across the Savanna near the giraffes and next to the crocodiles. May be they were surprised at the smell of burning wood in a fireplace all of a sudden. All this is caused by the woodshavings burner that guarantees that our crocodiles and giraffes will keep warm and comfortable. Instead of fossil fuels the burner consumes regional loppings. This fully automatically operating burner which can take 350 tons of woodshavings a year has a capacity of 350 kW, which is comparable with 140.000 m3 gas (the average power consumption of 64 households). In this way Rotterdam Zoo saves quite a lot of fossil fuels.
Many buildings date from the time that nobody was bothering with energy reduction. The monumental Rivièrahal and the lions building, designed by architect Van Ravesteyn, are eating energy because of lack of isolation and outdated installations.
When building new housings nowadays, energy and environmental aspects play an important part of course. The new Savanna House is an example of sustainable building. The design by LAM architects for this project is based on the cradle to cradle philosophy1. Whenever possible materials that can be used again have been applied such as non impregnated wood with an FSC certification and grasses such as reed, cane and bamboo. Natural elements have been used such as sun, wind and rain. The roof is transparent and the height of the front is chosen in such a way to make optimal use of the sunlight and the solar heat. In winter at a low altitude the sun will shine directly in the building and through the doors of the building giving off some warmth. That makes it possible that even on a sunny autumn or winter day the animals can stay outside in the sun at the north side.
On cold days this 4600 m3 big housing needs only partly to be heated. The giraffes themselves can find warmth near the “cuddle walls” that are heated by the woodshavings burner. The rain water falling on the roof of the giraffes' housing is caught and used for watering the tropical plants in the bordering Crocodile River.
Running on potato chips’ frying fat
For many years a special water boat is shuttling between container ships from Maersk and the Oceanium. This Rotterdam Zoo boat (the ‘Haaibaai’, or 'Shark bay') carries fresh sea water from the Atlantic Ocean that had been stored for us in the ballast tanks of Maersk container ships to the Oceanium.
Since 2006 the Zoo boat runs on B20 diesel oil consisting for 80% of conventional diesel mixed with 20% biodiesel. This biodiesel is gathered from Dutch rape oil. Using biodiesel contributes to a reduction of the CO2 emission. But it can much better. In our Zoo restaurants French fries are very popular. Research showed that waste frying oil from our Zoo restaurants (22.000 litres a year) can be converted into biodiesel, an excellent fuel for the Oceanium boat. Early in 2009 the boat has been fitted with a new engine suitable for 100% bio fuel. Using pure biofuel gives a reduction of 50% CO2 emission compared with fossil fuel thus contributing to a better environment. Apart from a reduction of CO2 emission when using biodiesel there is also a reduction of ‘particulate matter’ (PM), a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets.
After adaption of the fuel tanks of Rotterdam Zoo’s water boat, she is ready to run on French fried fat biodiesel from our own restaurants.
We have set up a special Green Team with employees from various disciplines to stimulate and guard green goals. In this article a few remarkable examples of sustainable projects are described but we are doing more of course.
Other sustainable developments and measures are:
a wind turbine is planned. Its possibilities are under investigation
use of FSC-certified wood
sustainably central buying
selling ‘Good Fish’ in the Zoo restaurants. Our fish-eating animals like sea lions, penguins and puffins are already fed with ‘good’ fish
step by step replacing electric lighting by LED lighting
offering more biological products in our restaurants
expositions of Global Warming in the polar bear grotto
using heat pumps in the Oceanium
replacing plastic bags by biodegradable plastic bags in our Zoo shops
further separation of garbage
using the Environment Barometer to register power consumption
re-using old French fried packaging for removal boxes
using sun collectors at the ibises and macaws
using sun collectors for washing the dishes and taking a shower