The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island has been certified as a N.C. Green Travel destination, designating it among sites in the state that have achieved sustainability goals to reduce energy use, landfill waste and overall impact on the environment.
The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality administers the N.C. Green Travel Program, and issued the certification following an application process and visit to the aquarium.
“We are so happy to have the Aquarium in our program. You are doing a fantastic job with your sustainability efforts.” said N.C. Green Travel Program Manager Tom Rhodes in a letter to the aquarium. “We enjoyed our tour of the facility and were pleasantly surprised to see all the sustainable practices you have put in place.”
The aquarium achieved a ranking of three “Dogwood Blossoms,” the highest level awarded by the program. It joins the North Carolina Aquariums at Fort Fisher and Pine Knoll Shores, as well as Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head on the list of Green Travel destinations.
Green initiatives highlighted in the aquarium application include onsite recycling for guests and employees, water and electricity use monitoring, LED lights and timers, exhibits made with recycled materials, onsite composting and a pollinator garden.
“As advocates for our natural surroundings and the health of aquatic environments, decreasing our impact is a huge priority for us as an organization,” said NCARI Director Larry Warner. “This kind of recognition not only confirms we are on the right track, but also highlights some new opportunities in which to move our sustainability initiatives.”
The aquarium’s sustainability initiatives are led by its Green Team, a committee made up of members from multiple departments that has implemented positive steps like cigarette butt recycling, reduction of paper usage, and collection of unwanted items for donation to thrift stores. Additionally, two employees sit on the N.C. Aquariums Sustainability Committee which charts goals for green initiatives across the aquarium division.
The aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to the mission of “Inspiring appreciation and conservation of our aquatic environments.” Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas.