John Ball Zoo

Pygmy Hippo Exhibit

Grand Rapids, Michigan

The TowerPinkster team partnered with CLR Design and the John Ball Zoo to create a pygmy hippo habitat that features the most rigorous sustainability standards in the building industry. Together, we are pursuing a Living Building Challenge Petal certification (LBC) for the project, which is the highest green building certification. There are several steps required to achieve this certification. The first is to ensure that all materials used to construct the exhibit are not emitting harmful chemicals into the environment and that they can be recycled.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems will operate the building, resulting in a 70% reduction in energy use relative to the baseline output. In addition, the mechanical system design will result in 50% less water usage. The exhibit also uses solar energy created by solar panels atop a pergola.

LBC certification requires that the project creates spaces for the community and equitable access for all. To that end, our team reduced the incline of the footpaths around the habitat and zoo entrance. The habitat also includes two gender-neutral restrooms, a comfort station for those who are nursing, and an adult-sized changing table.

Construction methodology is also considered in the certification. 95% of waste from demolition and construction has been diverted from landfills. Additionally, we were able to incorporate materials from a former zoo building. The Living Building Challenge Petal certification is performance-based; therefore, our team will work with John Ball Zoo to monitor the exhibit’s sustainability standards for a year to ensure it meets all requirements.

Pygmy Hippo Full