The Detroit Zoological Society plans to power the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak with 100 percent Michigan-made renewable energy through Detroit-based DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower program, offsetting 7,425 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of the carbon sequestered by 8,740 acres of U.S. forests, in one year.
The plan is part of the society’s Green Journey and Greenprint plan to decrease the environmental impact of its operations.
MIGreenPower is a voluntary renewable energy program that helps DTE electric customers reduce their carbon footprints and support the development of wind and solar projects in the state. Enrolled customers can customize their participation and attribute up to 100 percent of their energy use to wind farms and solar parks.
Participants don’t have to own and maintain their own equipment, and enrolling is cheaper than installing a rooftop solar system.
“Our commitment to sustainability is integrated into everything we do, from our environmentally responsible operations to our community-wide education programs,” says Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the society. “Joining MIGreenPower is a major step forward for us, as our power needs significantly exceed what we can produce on-site. This program helps reduce our carbon footprint while also supporting local, Michigan-made renewable energy.”
The society has won four green awards for its sustainability initiatives and achievements. It has permeable pavement that diverts rainwater from storm water drains, an anaerobic digester that turns herbivore animal waste and food scraps into compost and energy, and the use of solar/electric hybrid golf cars and bikes for on-site transportation. The Detroit Zoo is also the first zoo in the country to install a Smartflower, a ground-mounted solar panel system that generates more than 4,000 kilowatts of electricity annually.
Another initiative revolves around waste reduction. The zoo has eliminated the sale of single-use plastic water bottles, bags, straws, and lids. DTE has also worked with the zoo to complete energy upgrades in more than 50 of its buildings and to install zoo-wide LED lighting.
“We are excited to welcome the Detroit Zoological Society to MIGreenPower as we all work together to protect our planet for our children and future generations,” says Jerry Norcia, president and CEO of DTE. “The zoo joins other well-known Michigan institutions including Ford, General Motors, and the University of Michigan, and more than 8,300 individual residential and business customers who are using MIGreenPower to make a positive impact on the environment. This program provides an efficient way to power the zoo with 100 percent renewable energy.”
DTE launched MIGreenPower in April 2017 and introduced an expanded version for corporate and industrial customers in January. The program is part of the company’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2040. DTE is developing additional MIGreenPower programs to meet customer needs.
The Detroit Zoological Society operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center.
DTE Energy serves 2.2 million electric customers in southeast Michigan and 1.3 million natural gas customers in Michigan.