The North Carolina Zoo has been EMS ISO 14001 certified since 2002, with the most recent certification to the ISO 14001:2015 conversion in 2017. ISO 14001 is an internationally accepted standard outlining how to put an effective environmental management system in place.  Quarterly audits demonstrate that the Zoo regularly exceeds the ISO 14001 standards. Since 2002, the Zoo has set aggressive goals which have earned them several awards for environmental achievement. These awards include the Association of Zoos & Aquariums 2012 Green Award and The Governor’s Award for Excellence for Outstanding dedication and commitment to the citizens and state of North Carolina in 2011. The ISO 14001 standard requires effective charting in many aspects, but the key aspects are in Energy, Water, and Waste. Below you will see what the Zoo has accomplished and the goals we are setting for the future.


The Zoo just got some new electric vehicles


The Zoo has accomplished many energy upgrades and continues to strive in this area.  See attached graph.

  • The Zoo made upgrades to HVAC system at the Education Center in 2017. 
  • The Zoo also obtained emergency R&R funds to replace the failing chiller and repair other HVAC problems at Desert. 
  • Major overhaul of the 1.8 MW generator which serves as an emergency backup and standby power source for the Zoo was also completed. 
  • Funds were obtained for replacement of the propane distribution line which supplies power to three indoor habitats. 
  • The Zoo installed two dual electric vehicle charging stations at both the Education Center and Solar Pointe for guests, which will charge a total of 8 vehicles.
  • Donated LEDs have been installed in the Multi-Purpose and Director’s Planning Rooms in the Education building. 
  • The zoo is working with Randolph Electric and NCEMC on a battery storage/solar project at Vet Center, which will provide 6hr emergency generator standby power. 
  • All Zoo buildings have electric meters and the usage is monitored monthly. 
  • The Zoo is replacing aging diesel vehicles with more efficient diesel vehicles. 
  • The Zoo installed a new Lexan greenhouse with new heaters and shade cloth system



The Zoo maintains water use reduction of 30% based on a FY 03 baseline which is equivalent to .08 gallons per sq. ft.  See attached graph

  • Irrigation for landscapes and greenhouse is partially supplied by non-potable water from the lakes onsite. 
  • Horticulture arranges plants in greenhouses based on watering needs to reduce water consumption. 
  • Irrigation pumps are turned off during winter so that they are not watering plants in dormancy. 
  • The irrigation pumps and water lines are being replaced. 
  • Monthly monitoring of water quantities is conducted to discover any possible water line leaks
  • Hort operates a Master Irrigation System for 8 major habitats that measures the amount of rainfall and remotely adjust the amount of irrigation needed. Savings are in water use (up to 50%) as well as fuel and staff time. 



The Zoo achieved 80% Zero Waste to Landfill with attendance of 830,000 guests 5.2lb per guest in 2017 compared to 6 lb in 2016; 1.03 lb to landfill per guest in 2017 compared to 1.08 in 2016.  See attached graph

  • The Zoo worked on plan to implement post-consumer composting in Zoo's five food outlets beginning March 2018. 
  • The Zoo uses horticulture and animal waste (except primate) as compost onsite for landscaping, greenhouses and browse fields
  • The Zoo is also making plans to either compost primate manure on site or ship to compost farm instead of going to landfill. This is projected to decrease waste to landfill by 60 tons per year. 
  • The Zoo has removed all Styrofoam from site and has replaced with         reusable/recyclable plastic cups. 
  • Downed trees from storms and trees felled during construction, are reused in many ways throughout the park including; chipped for mulch or compost, benches, playgrounds, building materials, enrichment/perching for animals, wood chips for bedding and feed for browse animals.
  • The Zoo provides a recycling drop-off site for Randolph county
  • The Zoo takes yard waste (leaves) from the City of Asheboro and use it as mulch
  • The Zoo recycles old uniforms to a facility in SC that uses them as insulation material for automobiles. 
  • The Zoo recycles all cardboard, which also includes SSA recycling cardboard pizza trays at restaurants.
  • Individual areas of the Zoo are encouraged to come up with their own environmental initiative, for example the “North Woods” staff (which includes the Grizzlies, Elk, Bison, and Red Wolf exhibits) compost their lunch waste and reuse grain bags as trash bags. 



  • Eliminating single use plastics:
  • Soda bottles, cleaning product bottles
  •  Plastic bags from gift shops
  • Install water bottle refill stations around park