Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Standards

The Smithsonian's National Zoo strives to be a conservation leader in everyday Zoo operations and new facilities, including employing recycling technologies, using alternative energy, establishing environmentally sound practices and using environmentally sustainable materials.

Sustainable design practices abound in Elephant Trails facilities. The buildings are LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) gold certified—an internationally recognized green building certification system.

LEED Standards

Elephant Barn green features include:

  • Forty geothermal wells that heat the barn's walls and floor in winter and cool them in the summer. The wells provide a renewable, energy-efficient source for the building's heating and cooling.
  • Operable skylights throughout the Elephant Barn enable natural lighting and reduce the use of electricity. Shade cloths are designed to allow heat to exit the roof and bring fresh air in through the building's doors, cooling it in warm weather.
  • A green roof—the barn's roof is covered with vegetation that absorbs rainwater, provides insulation, creates a habitat for wildlife, and helps to maintain indoor air temperatures.

Elephant Community Center green features include:

    Elephant Bath
  • Forty geothermal wells used to aid in heating and cooling the building with radiant floor heating and heat pumps for cooling.
  • Super-insulated building envelope, including the massive steel and concrete elephant doors.
  • Natural ventilation strategies for the building, including operable skylights that have retractable shades to optimize energy performance and animal containment doors that allow natural ventilation.
  • Structural steel that is high in recycled content.
  • A green roof system to reduce storm water runoff; provide additional insulation; and create habitat for local birds, butterflies and other fauna.

Other green features of Elephant Trails:

  • Elephant pool water is filtered on site and reused to reduce/eliminate wastewater.
  • Recycled materials such as sand, wood ships, stone, and demolished concrete materials were used to meet LEED standards.
  • The HVAC system is designed to minimize energy consumption.
  • Management of construction waste and construction waste recycling programs.
  • Geothermal well field under Yard 2. There are five or six lines of wells totaling about 29 individual wells. Each well is several hundred feet deep.
  • On-demand, steam fed hot water heater.