USGBC West Michigan announced John Ball Zoo Meerkat Habitat as Certified Green Building Award Winner

Kids enjoying the interactive spaces in the Meerkat Habitat.

The U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan (USGBC-WM) announced Meerkat Habitat at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, MI, as the Certified Green Building Award Sustainable Sites winner. The Certified Green Building Awards recognize exemplary building projects that received high-performance certifications.

Solar panels and green roof of the habitat

John Ball Zoo has been a legacy of Grand Rapids for over 100 years. In the Zoo’s tenure, they have made great strides in animal welfare, sustainability, and environmental conservation. Today, John Ball Zoo is not only a leader in sustainability locally, but they are also being nationally recognized for their efforts to create beautiful, mindful habitats for the species that live there. In recent years, the zoo decided to third-party certify their projects. “Instead of just doing the “right thing”, let’s do the right thing and get a stamp of approval;” says Allmon Forrester, the Director of Facilities, Planning, and Sustainability, “If you are doing things for the right reasons anyway it's not costing more to build it”. A result of this was their most recent accomplishment, the Meerkat Habitat. This habitat is SITES Gold certified under the Sustainable Sites Initiative. They are the first zoo in the world to do this.  Some of the features of the habitat include a lush green roof filled with an abundance of native plant species, solar panels to offset outdoor lighting, recycled & reused materials that came from local sources, and accessibility features so all zoo guests can enjoy this habitat. The zoo’s strong dedication to conservation is echoed in this project, and it is a reflection of John Ball Zoo’s innovative decisions to make this world a better place.

Meerkats relaxing in their habitat at John Ball Zoo.

The USGBC-WM Leadership Awards promote outstanding green building initiatives by recognizing projects, organizations, and people who have made extraordinary contributions to achieving healthy, energy-efficient green buildings in the state of Michigan.“We are thrilled to lift up organizations that lead by example,” says Cheri Holman, Executive Director of the USGBC-WM, “by sharing these accomplishments we can show that good economic decisions and green buildings can be one and the same.”

John Ball Zoo received their award at USGBC-WM’s Annual Party & Leadership Award Ceremony on the night of March 10th, 2022 at The Ballroom at McKay Tower in downtown Grand Rapids, MI. For more information about USGBCWM’s  Annual Party & Leadership Award Ceremony, please visit