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Wildlife Conservation Society Measures Its Carbon Footprint

The team used data collected since 2005 and its assessment established a baseline against which future calculations and emissions mitigation efforts can be compared. This first report included calculations only at its New York facilities: Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and the New York Aquarium. At the Bronx Zoo, it included the facilities and activities of the WCS global team housed there.
by Staff Writers
Bronx NY (SPX) Jan 16, 2008
The Wildlife Conservation Society has calculated its carbon footprint and is taking steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. As a leader in global conservation, WCS aims to lead by example by taking steps to help New York City reduce its footprint by 30 percent by 2030.

"We can't be a leader in global conservation, if we don't also live it at home," said Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Conservation globally, includes conservation at home. We strongly support Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York, an effort to make our city a leading example of how we all can take steps to lighten our carbon footprint."

In 2007, WCS launched an effort to ensure its conservation practices at home were truly consistent with its global mission of protecting wildlife and wild places and to position the organization as a leader of New York City's greening plans. To that end, WCS created a Carbon Footprint Project Team to calculate its carbon footprint and then to implement steps to cut back on its emissions.

The method to measure the footprint was guided by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative, lead by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a coalition of 170 international companies and the World Resources Institute, a non-governmental organization focused on ecosystem preservation and climate change mitigation. The guidelines created by this partnership include tools developed with recommendations of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for GHG emissions quantification. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has adopted the same reporting mechanism.

The team used data collected since 2005 and its assessment established a baseline against which future calculations and emissions mitigation efforts can be compared. This first report included calculations only at its New York facilities: Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and the New York Aquarium. At the Bronx Zoo, it included the facilities and activities of the WCS global team housed there. The WCS plans to include in its future calculations data from its additional 70 global locations, currently located in 52 countries, and overseas in-country staff travel. In addition, the organization will continue to monitor developing technologies that can help it with future green initiatives.

The team calculated that the WCS operation (including five parks) in New York emits approximately 34,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases. The calculation includes direct emissions from heating and power generation at the five City parks and WCS owned vehicles; emissions for purchased electricity by parks; emissions from organization activities - travel by air, car and train; and paper consumption.

To put this in perspective, the team compared the WCS estimates to those of other institutions, like Middlebury College, 35,000 metric tons; BP, 60 million metric tons; and the think-tank, World Resources Institute, 978 metric tons.

"This footprint assessment is only our first step in this process," said Sanderson.

"Our goal was to look at our largest institutions at home to begin this process. We now have a baseline to compare future carbon mitigation strategies. The process of assessing our footprint is now ongoing and will help generate ideas and strategies to reduce consumption and improve efficiency."

Added Sanderson: "The WCS is poised to be a leader in creating emissions reductions through the conservation of tropical forests as part of our work to protect the Earth. We need to have our own house in order to be a part of this emerging market and movement."

The following are a few green initiatives already taken by WCS to reduce the footprint.

- The Bronx Zoo produces much of its own power, cooling and heating through its cogeneration facility. With support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Bronx Zoo is in the process of upgrading the engines at its cogeneration facility from dual-fuel burning (diesel and natural gas) to exclusively natural gas, which will reduce carbon emissions from the cogeneration facility by 30 percent, and oxides of nitrogen emissions by 80 percent.

The WCS green building plans incorporate energy saving technologies and strategies. Specifically, WCS is seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for both the Lion House and the Center for Global Conservation by employing green building technologies. Both of these projects also receive support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. The Lion House restoration (Madagascar exhibit) at the Bronx Zoo, which opens next June, includes several green initiatives:

Compact fluorescent bulbs which use as little as a quarter of the energy and last up to ten times as long as conventional bulbs; overhead motion sensors that switch lights off automatically when not in use; hi-tech skylights that increase the use of natural light and reduce heat gain/loss through better insulation; climate-specific exhibits that keep both animals and people comfortable; ground water-based thermal heat pumps to provide the building's heating and cooling needs rather than a conventional natural gas system; an energy-efficient 250-kilowatt fuel cell; waterless urinals; greywater reuse; use of low-impact materials, including recycled steel, slag concrete, FSC certified wood; and recycling of construction waste, thereby, reducing resources that require land-filling as well as virgin materials needed for new construction.

The Jose E. Serrano Center for Global Conservation (CGC), scheduled to open next spring at the Bronx Zoo, will be the headquarters for the Wildlife Conservation Society's Global Conservation Programs. This new building employs a host of green initiatives, including:

A microturbine cogeneration system which will produce energy efficiently and cleanly; maximization of use of natural light through both building design and lighting control systems; exterior shading reducing the heat gain and the need for cooling within the building; use of waterless urinals and water efficient fixtures; greywater recycling for use in irrigation; and stormwater retention and filtration via a green roof.

- Use of cleaner alternative fuel vehicles including electric vehicles, which currently make up approximately half of the organization's fleet and the conversion of the Bronx Zoo Shuttle to compressed natural gas (CNG).

Additional green initiatives in operation at WCS include:

- The Bronx Zoo opened the largest composting toilet facility in New York City last April. The facility was recently awarded the "Environmental Project of the Year" by both Greenbuildings NYC and The New York Construction News.

- Much of the animal waste produced in the Bronx Zoo is composted. The finished compost is given to a number of city agencies and nonprofits, including the New York City Parks Department.

- The WCS has recycling bins throughout its five parks, urging our 4 million annual visitors to recycle their glass, metal and plastic waste.

- Recycling of Zoo maps has been instituted at all five parks.

- At the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, nearly 5,000 gallons of waste cooking oil are collected by an outside vendor and turned into soap.

- A range of waste materials produced by staff is recycled, including paper, plastics and metals. The WCS recycles computers and other electronics, computer ink cartridges and batteries. The official WCS letterhead stock uses recycled paper.

- Timers have been installed on many faucets in our office restrooms to save water.

- Elimination of bottled water coolers used by staff.

- The Bronx Zoo's sea lion exhibit will use a closed system that recycles water, saving nearly 500,000 gallons of water per year.

- The WCS purchases sustainable seafood for both animal and visitor consumption, thereby reducing the pressures on threatened wild fisheries.

WCS continues to assess its operations to identify and implement additional green initiatives.

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