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Mitsubishi Electric partners global conservation and education charity

Once in a while a story comes along that just grabs my attention and makes me smile and when I saw the news that Chester Zoo is partnering with heat pump manufacturer, Mitsubishi Electric to look at reducing the Zoo’s carbon footprint, I thought, what a lovely idea.

The Zoo’s Head of Sustainability, Jennifer Kelly explained in the press announcement: “We are a global conservation and education charity with a mission to prevent extinction, so we know that we can’t be part of the problem that we’re trying to solve, and that’s where strong partnerships on sustainability are so important.”

And the first animals to benefit include the cutest baby rhino as shown on the Reuters YouTube report.

If heat pumps can work in a rhino house, they can work in just about any building

Carole Titmuss Refurb projects Carole Titmuss Editor of Refurb Projects

Decarbonisation plans

Announcing the strategic partnership with Mitsubishi Electric, Chester Zoo has plans to decarbonise heating across its not-for-profit conservation zoo in Cheshire as part of its drive to reach net zero.

Mitsubishi Electric’s experts will work with the zoo’s facilities and design teams to keep animals – like Chester Zoo’s critically endangered black rhinos – warm. They will also provide heating, cooling and ventilation equipment in other buildings across the 128-acre site while reducing the charity’s carbon emissions.

Chester Zoo is a world-leading conservation and education charity that’s committed to preventing extinction and dedicated to raising awareness of key conservation and environmental challenges.

The zoo is aiming to be net zero in its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030 and net zero in its scope 3 emissions by 2050 at the latest. As part of this, it is actively working to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. Each of its buildings have very different requirements, based on their use, including the animals and species housed in them.

“Mitsubishi Electric is not only helping us understand the carbon reduction that we need to achieve in each building on our site to meet our net zero targets, but also working with our teams to deliver the most energy efficient solution for the animals we care for, providing them with the temperatures they need to thrive,” adds Jen Kelly.  

Open door policy

The partnership was developed following two successful projects utilising Mitsubishi Electric equipment. The first involved air source heat pumps, air conditioning and ventilation installed in the zoo’s new conference and events venue, The Square. The second saw one of its rhino habitats, home to the endangered black rhinos, heated by six Ecodan air source heat pumps, which are manufactured in Scotland. 

The Zoo needs to keep our indoor rhino habitat temperatures between 18 and 24 degrees, but their home has big open doors, allowing the animals free movement, which can lead to significant heat loss.

George Clarke, TV presenter, architect and Mitsubishi Electric Ecodan brand ambassador, who was at the launch of the partnership, added: “I’ve been talking for years about the power and versatility of heat pumps for different living environments. The air source heat pumps deployed at Chester Zoo demonstrate what’s possible and show that if heat pumps can work in our rhino habitats, they can work in residential and wider settings too!”

Third in the world

Chester Zoo is the most visited zoo in the UK, attracting around two million visitors each year, and has previously been named as the best zoo in the UK and third in the world by TripAdvisor.

Commenting on the partnership, Chris Newman, Net Zero Design Manager at Mitsubishi Electric, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Chester Zoo as a key sustainability Partner, and we see so many synergies with their ethos, especially on the sustainability and educational fronts.

“We’re working with the zoo’s facilities teams to reduce carbon emissions and deliver energy efficient comfort across a diverse range of buildings with internal climates from African savannahs to South American rainforests, which shows beyond doubt that there is a renewable solution that can help all of us get to net zero.” 

Chester Zoo was opened in 1931 and is one of the UK's largest zoos. The 128-acre site in Chester, is home to more than 37,000 animals and more than 500 species. 

As a not-for-profit organisation, the zoo ploughs everything into its conservation mission, both in the UK and around the world and works with more than 3,000 species globally, including hundreds of international animal conservation breeding programmes, which are ensuring the survival of species on the very brink of extinction.

Experts from the zoo are recognised by governments and NGOs across the world as leaders within the global conservation community.

You can find out more about the important conservation work undertaken at the Zoo by visiting their website.

Carole Titmuss is Editor of Refurb Projects