Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Bigger, Better, Greener

by Cindy Han

The Conservation and Research Center will get a green facelift as part of a larger plan to expand upon the current Smithsonian-Mason program. The current 15-student undergraduate program is just the beginning of something bigger. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is working closely with George Mason University to establish an academic partnership that offers an even wider scope of courses in conservation biology.

“We will be taking it to the next level,” says CCES academic program manager Jennifer Buff. The Zoo will join academic partners to develop and test a whole suite of programs for undergraduates, graduate students, professors, staff, and even international scientists and students.

GMU student in group activity

College students live and learn at the Virginia campus of the Smithsonian's National Zoo as a part of a unique partnership with George Mason University. (Diane Wyse)

To accommodate this vision, the CRC campus—which currently offers just enough space and housing for a limited number of students—will be expanded consistent with CRC’s master plan. The new buildings will model the best green practices, including green-roof technology, geothermal heating and cooling, composting kitchen waste, reuse of rainwater, and stormwater management.

The goal is to be able to house 60 undergraduate students along with 60 grad students and professionals in the new facilities. These sustainable buildings will include dorms, a recreation center and cafeteria, classrooms, and offices. “We hope to create a brand-new learning community by 2012,” says Buff. “Students and instructors will be immersed in a world that’s actively making a difference.”

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