Fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and petroleum produced 80% of the energy used in 2020. Producing all of that energy released toxic air molecules, destroyed natural wildlife, and polluted waterways, forests and communities. In 2020 the United States released and emitted 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. While there’s no denying that enormous amounts of energy are necessary to operate botanical gardens, museums and zoos, there are environmentally conscious options and opportunities to reduce our energy footprints that organizations should consider.

One such opportunity is for organizations to purchase or generate 100% renewable energy. The Climate Toolkit created goals to support and assist organizations as they address energy emissions within their own operations.

Click to read more about each goal and explore further resources. If you need more support, please email the Climate Toolkit at


Listed below are the Energy goals of the Climate Toolkit:

The Paris Agreement is a global agreement to addresses climate change with a long-term goal of keeping the global average temperature to at least 2°C (3.6°F) below pre-industrial levels. In alignment with the Paris Agreement, the Climate Toolkit recommends that institutions set realistic goals to reduce fossil fuel usage and its associated emissions and make plans to accomplish those goals. This is a critical step to address climate change and diminish our carbon footprint. Click here to read more about the Paris Climate Agreement.


Buildings have a high energy demand, with lighting, heating and cooling contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. They are a critical place to significantly reduce energy use.

For new constructions and renovations, the Climate Toolkit recommends pursuing the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Living Building Challenge, which requires organizations to create a building that uses resources efficiently and is net-zero energy and net-zero water. The Living Building Challenge is one of the few challenges that ILFI created for healthy buildings, communities and living. It focuses on 20 imperatives within seven categories of energy, water, place, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty and inspiration. Click here to read ILFI’s case studies of Living Buildings all over the world that are thriving (2021).

Alternatively, organizations can pursue ILFI’s Zero-Energy certification (2021).


Building renovations offer a unique opportunity to retrofit inefficient, older systems and reduce energy use and emissions in the process. From reducing HVAC leaks to using natural ventilation, upgrading lighting and switching to eco-friendly appliances, zoos, gardens and museums should endeavor to ensure that all new rehabilitations are as efficient as possible.


Zoos, museums and botanical gardens emit a significant amount of carbon dioxide through conventional energy consumption. Purchasing renewable energy supports clean energy development, reduces your carbon footprint and hedges future electricity prices.

Generating renewable energy onsite is ideal but requires significant investment, so the Climate Toolkit recommends starting with a hybrid approach of purchasing renewable energy while investing long-term in onsite generation from photovoltaics and wind.

Click here to watch the Climate Toolkit’s webinar that explored options and opportunities for botanical gardens to transition to 100% renewable energy.


Institutions Pursuing Energy Goals:

Anchorage Museum

Alaska and the Circumpolar North

Asheville Art Museum Association Inc

Southeastern USA

Bok Tower Gardens


California Indian Museum and Cultural Center


Cornell Botanic Gardens

New York Finger Lakes

Discovery Museum

New England

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden

Washington, DC

Jardin botanique de Montréal, Espace pour la vie/ Montréal Botanical Gardens, Montréal Space for Life


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Central Texas

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens


Morris Arboretum

Greater Philadelphia - Mid Atlantic

Morton Arboretum

Midwest USA and Global

Mt. Cuba Center


National Nordic Museum

Pacific Northwest

New York Botanical Garden

Bronx, New York City

Norfolk Botanical Garden

Coastal Virginia, North Carolina
North Carolina Botanical Garden

North Carolina Botanical Garden

North Carolina

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Western Pennsylvania

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

California Central Coast

Science Museum of Minnesota