Green Practices

AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums serve as conservation experts and are careful stewards of the natural resources utilized in their business operations.

As Wanda Evans, the chair of AZA’s Green Scientific Advisory Group, in 2016 wrote in AZA’s member magazine Connect, “Saving animals starts with saving habitats, and by choosing to act responsibly in our business practices, we provide support for our field conservation work around the world and our conservation education programs at home. We cannot, as an industry, be serious about saving wildlife without being serious about natural resource conservation.”

AZA-accredited Zoo and Aquarium Green Practices

Every year, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums provide information about their green business practices to AZA’s Green Practices survey. Members use this database to report on relevant staffing, the sourcing of local food, reporting of greenhouse gas emissions to registries, and obtaining third-party green certifications. They also provide annual documentation and usage for:

Some of the green practices reported are publicly available; follow the link and learn more about the green business practices being implemented throughout the AZA community.

AZA Green Award

Leaders in greening their business operations are recognized with AZA’s Green Award. Established in 2011, the AZA Green Award celebrates institution-wide programs that implement outstanding and/or innovative methods to reduce their business operation's environmental impact and winning applications are available for AZA members to read. Read more about how to apply for the Green Award and to see a list of past awardees.

A Snapshot

In 2015,120 of AZA’s 241 accredited institutions and certified-related facilities reported on their green practices. Explore each Annual Report on Conservation and Science to learn about what each facility is doing individually, or explore Highlights to see what the AZA community is accomplishing together.  

Helping Members Meet Their Goals


The Green Scientific Advisory Group (Green SAG) actively helps the AZA community green its business operations, and many of the resources available to AZA members is either a product or a direct result of their work. Learn more about their current efforts and reach out to them.

Green/Sustainable Operations Network Group

AZA members are encouraged to join the Green/Sustainable Operations Group on the AZA Network, AZA’s online private social networking community for professionals working in zoos and aquariums. Questions, discussions, and resource-sharing are encouraged!

AZA Green Guides

In 2011, the first AZA Green Guide was published, and by 2013 it was expanded into two volumes. These guides are designed to help zoos and aquariums publicly demonstrate their commitment to wildlife conservation by “walking the talk” and model ways in which guests can learn how to be part of the solution for habitat and resource conservation. Each is organized by sustainability topic areas that mirror those used in AZA’s annual Green Award and many of which are included in AZA’s annual green survey.

Volume 1, entitled “Introduction to Building Zoo & Aquarium Sustainability Plans” is designed to help zoos and aquariums gain a basic understanding of green practices, become fluent in a consistent sustainability language, and think about ways to develop a Sustainability Plan. All AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are encouraged to develop a Sustainability Plan, which will provide a critical starting point for staff to support the organization’s green practice strategies and contribute to the Plan’s success.

Volume 2, entitled “Building and Measuring Your Zoo or Aquarium Sustainability Plan”, is designed to help zoos and aquariums implement specific green practice strategies, identify AZA Smart Source Cooperative Purchasing Programs to provide discounts on green products, and document their progress on categorical metrics through checklists. These checklists are designed to help an organization document its green practices internally and track progress against its own operation over time.

AZA Smart Source

AZA Smart Source is a national purchasing cooperative designed and managed exclusively for the benefit of AZA member zoos, aquariums, and related facilities. Smart Source can both lower operating costs and can help direct AZA members to green and sustainable products.

Resources for Greening Business Practices

Explore additional resources about how to green your business practices in areas such as strategic planning, energy, fuel, waste, water and other topics. Green Tales articles, written by AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums of all sizes and published in Connect, document individual member’s experiences in implementing green practices and are also available.

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