Calgary Zoo pandas

April 30, 2019 7:33 pm
Updated: April 30, 2019 7:44 pm

Calgary Zoo’s Panda Passage gets international certification for ‘truly green building’

Dec. 24, 2018: Dec 24: Going to see the pandas at the Calgary Zoo is a festive favourite for a lot of families this holiday season. And as Gil Tucker shows us, the zoo's now taking steps that could bring more pandas in 2019.


The Calgary Zoo is being internationally recognized for its very eco-friendly Panda Passage habitat that opened last year.

The Panda Passage is home to a family of four bears that is on loan to Canada as part of an agreement with China. The pandas spent time at the Toronto Zoo before heading west to settle in Calgary.

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When it was opened, the panda habitat was touted as being environmentally friendly and was awarded on Tuesday with the Petal Certification as part of the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge.

READ MORE: How the Calgary Zoo is getting ready to welcome Canada’s giant pandas

“Every time we’re building something new or we’re repurposing, we’re taking a lot of resources,” Zoo president and CEO Clement Lanthier said.

“So… the Petal program certification really acknowledges the effort of the team, that they made in the planning process to make sure that the environmental footprint of this Panda Passage building was really, really aligned with the best practice possible.”

Lanthier said the award shows the building also aligns with what the zoo is hoping to achieve when it comes to panda conservation — which is a big part of the reason they’re here.

WATCH: Calgary Zoo staff hope lessons learned in China help panda breeding in 2019. Gil Tucker reports.

The pandas, which are an endangered species, are part of a 10-year breeding program, which has already proven successful as the two cubs were born during the adult pandas’ stay in Toronto.

“One of the most significant threats of endangered species is the destruction of their habitat,” he said. “So by not taking too many resources or making sure that the resources we take are sustainable, that’s key for wildlife and wild places.

“Everything we do, every day, it’s directly related to wildlife and wild places.”

READ MORE: Baby panda watch is on: Calgary zoo artificially inseminates female panda

According to the International Living Future Institute website, Petal Certification is given to a building that achieves three of the seven Petals — which are Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Embodied Carbon Footprint, Responsible Industry and Living Economy Sourcing — one of which has to be water, energy or materials, among other requirements.

“The Living Building Challenge… is the world’s most stringent rating system for truly green buildings,” said Matt Grace, president of Mission Green Buildings, which was the sustainability consulting firm on Panda Passage’s construction.

Panda Passage is the first project in Alberta to receive any kind of Living Building Challenge recognition, Grace said.

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