After a $72 million renovation effort, San Jose’s Happy Hollow Zoo became the first combination zoo/amusement park in the country to receive the coveted Gold LEED certification. This means that the zoo meets the highest environmental standards set by the federal government.

The designation is based on six categories: sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design process. Among the many features are the extensive use of recycled plastic, rock, glass, and even non-potable water, Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood framing, and radiant flooring to cool and heat buildings.

One of the most visible features, however, is the rooftops on seven buildings. These have been planted with native species to provide a viable habitat for wildlife. Just by planting on the roofs, the park was able to add 14,000 square feet to the facility. A total of 56,000 plants were added to the roofs.

Zoo Spokeswoman Vanessa Rogier says that she hopes that Happy Hollow will serve as an inspiration for other zoos throughout the country to adopt sustainable, green practices.
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