The Denver Zoological Foundation is an organization with conservation at its core. After years of incremental efforts to reduce energy use and be more sustainable, they decided to take a more strategic approach. Craig Piper, the zoo's former president and CEO put it simply, "as a conservation organization we decided that one of the things we needed to do is live our mission in terms of business practices and make sure that our own operations set a model for operating with a lighter touch on our planet." To do so, they developed a sustainable management system – a process of identifying specific annual goals, acting on those goals, measuring their effectiveness and providing feedback for continuous improvement. The result has been not only the development of a system that will convert more than 90 percent of the zoo's waste into usable energy but also the development of a culture of innovation among the staff.
To give you a window into structuring and implementing an innovative system – why do it in the first place, the benefits of involving others, managing change and difficulties, encouraging ownership and finally, growing the organizational culture to be open to innovative ideas from throughout the institution