The award is given every year to a business or organization in Orange, Osceola, or Seminole County. Judging is based on innovation and uniqueness, the direct or indirect effort to reduce emissions, providing a model for others to follow and sustainability.
The zoo was recognized for several of its green efforts, including switching to biodegradable dinnerware, converting to fossil fuel-free horticultural zones and upgrading their recycling program to include the first community drop-off location for the recycling of Styrofoam.
In addition to those green improvements, the zoo uses several bicycles for employees to travel on the grounds. In the future, they also hope to harvest animal waste and turn it into energy for the zoo.
The zoo also encourages recycling by placing recycle bins next to every wastebasket. Even their newest attraction, ZOOmAir, a treetop obstacle course, is environmentally friendly and does no damage to the trees the course utilizes.
The Clean Air Team, which honored the zoo, is a volunteer group dedicated to improving air quality in Central Florida. The Team is a partnership of Metroplan Orlando, Central Florida’s transportation agency.
The award was presented during a ceremony held Thursday. Clean Air Team Chairman John Parker recognized the zoo for its efforts to be a green, clean place for kids and adults. He said he believed the zoo’s efforts to go green will encourage others in the community to be more environmentally friendly.
“We all need to do our part to keep clean air a priority in the community,” said Parker.
Zoo president Joe Montisano said the zoo plans to “scream green” to motivate its guests to be green at home. With the help of children from the zoo’s summer camp, Montisano showed how kids are hearing the green message and understanding its importance.
“It’s encouraging to see the young kids telling the older generation to recycle,” he said.
The zoo’s conservation coordinator Tanya Scheidegg said the zoo has been going green since 2002. She said in addition to using biodegradable dinnerware, the zoo has also started using recyclable trash linings.
“We want the community to know that we are a green resource for them out here,” she said.
County Commissioner Brenda Carey, who is also a board member for the zoo, accepted the award, which was made of recycled glass.
She said, “I always like to encourage all businesses to do what they can do to save our planet.”
This is the 10th year the award has been given to a Central Florida organization or business. Past winners include Waterford Elementary School and Progress Energy, Orange County Public Schools and Head Start and the City of Altamonte Springs.
Montisano said the zoo plans to continue its efforts to become green.
“The zoo continues to be dedicated to the conservation of not only our animal residents but all of the valuable resources on the planet,” he said. “Our goal is to use our platform of 240,000 guests a year to scream green and hopefully impact more of the community with a global message of conservation.”