Goal Update

Baseline: 18,137 MtCO2e

Q1 2022: 17,305 MtCO2e (4.5% reduction)

Goal (2021): 15,400 MtCO2e

Recent Achievements

Proactive Response to COVID-19

During the 10-week closure due to COVID-19 in Spring 2020, members of the Energy and Water Management Team sought out lights, thermostats, and other sources of energy that could be reduced or turned off to save energy. In tandem with reductions in water, these activities saved the zoo approximately $42,000 in 10 weeks.

Rad-burro Pilot

The Zoo purchased two fully-electric tricycles from Rad Power Bikes in early 2020. These tricycles come with a trailer bed that can carry maintenance equipment. Based on the results of this pilot, the Zoo will assess the role this equipment can play in replacing gas-powered vehicles for maintenance needs.

LED Lighting Upgrades

LED lights reduce energy consumption and are an efficient return on investment as the reduced energy costs rapidly offset the increased bulb cost and reduce emissions. The Zoo continues to upgrade lighting to LEDs using the its Green Load Fund program. Several projects have been completed in the following exhibits and buildings, saving the Zoo thousands of dollars annually:

  • The entrance boulevard
  • The north gate
  • The drop-off area
  • The plaza near the main gate

Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)

Two VFDs were installed in the Walter Scott Aquarium and Tree Tops Restaurant using the Zoo’s Green Loan Fund in late 2019. VFDs help reduce energy use and can reduce machine maintenance by running motors more efficiently. The Energy and Water Management Team will continue to monitor these buildings to identify energy savings.

Upcoming Projects

System Upgrades

In 2021, the zoo is replacing air handlers in the Jungle, Dome, and Theater, which will lead to greater energy efficiency. Additionally, many of the large exhibits at the Zoo will begin tracking energy use in real time, allowing for greater flexibility and response by the Zoo.

Exhibit Tracking

The Zoo will establish a new baseline for Owen’s Shores in late 2021 after 1 year of operation.

Emissions Versus Energy Consumption

Although greenhouse gas emissions have increased from the baseline, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is making significant progress on energy efficiency. Annual energy use per square foot has decreased approximately 20% from a 2009-2011 baseline. Emissions increased primarily due to an increase in the emissions factor of Omaha Public Power District’s electricity.


An emissions factor is the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent released per unit energy produced. With a higher carbon intensity per unit of energy, the emissions associated with the Zoo’s electricity consumption can increase even with declining energy use.

Our Goals