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Success Story

Elephant Lands, at the Oregon Zoo, Portland

Estimated annual savings 310,900 kWh and 13,700 therms

Its inhabitants are larger than life, and with support from Energy Trust, the Oregon Zoo’s new Elephant Lands habitat also stands tall when it comes to saving energy.

With over 60 years of experience in elephant research and science-based care, the zoo was careful to design Elephant Lands in a way that would honor the needs of these majestic animals as well as the earth they walk on. With energy-efficient features peppered throughout the grounds, the project earned $107,800 in Energy Trust incentives and was honored with a Better Bricks award from the Portland Business Journal.

One of the more unique features at Elephant Lands is its use of an energy sharing system, which actually pulls heat produced when cooling the neighboring polar bear pool and transfers it to the elephants by way of a “geothermal slinky.”

The project also has a significant solar component. The zoo worked with Energy Trust to implement a solar array for generating electricity and another for heating water. “The elephants love warm water for a hose-down bath, which happens daily. So any way to preheat that without using carbon fuels is great,” said Jim Mitchell, construction manager, Oregon Zoo.

“There are overarching sustainability goals,” said Emily Dawson, project architect, SRG Partnership. “One of the fun things about doing the Elephant Lands project has been putting in some of the infrastructure that will affect the whole campus.”

Learn more about cash incentives and resources for new construction and renovation projects »