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Fountain at the Detroit Zoo. Courtesy Detroit Zoo Facebook.

Parking lots usually create a lot of water runoff that has to be then treated by sewage systems. However, the Detroit Zoo has built a new parking lot made out of “permeable pavement,” which reduces storm water runoff and filters pollutants.

Permeable pavement allows for the natural absorption of water beneath the surface, prevents excess storm water from damaging sewer systems, and minimizes underground pollutants. This practice was first implemented at the Zoo in 2015 with the construction of the Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness, which features visitor walkways made with porous pavement.

According to Detroit Zoo officials, their new parking lot is the largest permeable pavement lot in Oakland County. When designing the lot, the DZS sought an eco-friendly alternative to using standard asphalt.

The Detroit Zoo has been rising in popularity, so they added 215 parking spaces off Woodward Avenue near the Polk Penguin Conservation Center.

This is the latest in green design elements the zoo has incorporated. They’ve discontinued the sale of bottled water on Zoo grounds, keeping 60,000 plastic bottles out of the waste stream annually and started powering Detroit Zoo operations with 100% renewable electricity from wind farms.

Another measure was to build an anaerobic digester which converts 400 tons of animal manure a year into methane-rich gas to power the Zoo’s animal hospital.