Sustainable Practices

Sustainability extends into every part of the aquarium. From water-conserving exhibits to energy-efficient lighting, from “green” gardens to the food our animals eat—sustainability is in everything we do!

With support from innovative thinkers around the aquarium, and a five-year strategic plan to guide us, we’re transforming the way our home operates — and the results are telling. Get swept away by the sustainability wave and check out Shedd’s stories below!

Water Wise

Our 32,000 animals need a lot of water to swim and thrive, so we have to get creative to reduce our water use. For Bob Wengel, vice president of facilities at Shedd, being water smart is integral to all of Shedd’s operations, from ensuring high-quality habitats for the animals in our care to modernizing the aquarium’s plumbing with water-saving toilets. A recent innovation is a rainwater capture system that feeds into the aquarium’s chilling tower — now that’s cool!

Green Gardens

Shedd’s award-winning horticulture team proves that “green” gardens can be breathtaking! From the huge yellow blossoms on native prickly pear cactus in our dune garden to the rainbow of peppers in our organic vegetable garden, Shedd’s gardens may even rival the beauty of the habitats inside the aquarium.

Our gardens are pesticide-free, and we rely on compost and crushed cocoa bean shells from a local chocolate factory to keep our soil healthy. We incorporate native plant species and design our gardens with local wildlife in mind. For more info, download our garden fact sheet.

Energy Efforts

Shedd’s energy reduction strategy is based on the ambitious 2020 Energy Roadmap developed in partnership with the City of Chicago, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, Institute for Sustainable Energy Development and Citizens Utility Board. We’re hard at work keeping our cold-water-loving dolphins and belugas comfortable while reducing our pull of electricity from the grid. In addition to installing 913 solar panels on the roof of the Abbott Oceanarium, we’ve replaced light fixtures throughout the building with efficient LED bulbs and upgraded our electricity management system with 32 smart submeters that provide real-time energy data.

Reusable Gift Bags

 In order to help support Shedd’s sustainability efforts and help protect our waters and the animals that call them home, Shedd offers reusable bags for purchase in our gift shop. Learn more about other ways you can help reduce your single-use plastic use.

Conservation videos

Watch our conservation video suite about food, energy and water. 

Connect with us

Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and check out our blog for sustainability news!