Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The Seattle Aquarium’s commitment to operational sustainability is rooted in four fundamentals:

Our mission, Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment;

Our leadership in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) to prompt all members to have an operational sustainability plan;

Committing to wise green practices that can reduce our utility expenses over time; and

Sharing conservation practices that can be implemented at home by our visitors and community.


Highlights of our sustainability efforts include:

Community Solar project in partnership with Seattle City Light

Solar array at the Seattle Aquarium

In partnership with Seattle City Light, the Seattle Aquarium installed a 49-kilowatt-hour photovoltaic array on the roof of Pier 59. The array generates electricity for Seattle City Light’s second Community Solar project, where anyone with a Seattle City Light account can pay for one or more solar units and receive annual bill credits for the electricity generated by the project. Some of this sustainable electricity is also received directly by the Aquarium. To view how much power the Community Solar project is generating at the Seattle Aquarium, click here.

Composting and recycling

The Seattle Aquarium currently diverts about 70 percent of our solid waste into composting and recycling (approximately 54 tons of compost and 22 tons of recycling per year).

Solar hot water

On the south-facing wall of Pier 59 are five glass solar panels which absorb the sun's energy to preheat water used by our café. This lowers the amount of natural gas needed by the café, reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2.5 tons annually. This collaborative project is made possible with funding and support from Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy, both recognized as national leaders in energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.

Energy efficiency upgrades

The Aquarium has completed an investment-grade audit of its energy and water systems and anticipates upgrades that will result in thousands of dollars of savings per year in energy and water costs, including LED lighting, advanced utility control systems, new windows and insulation, water efficiency strategies, and others.

Ackerley Foundation Puget Sound Hall

Many sustainability practices were incorporated in the construction of the Aquarium’s Puget Sound Hall and café, including the use of cold saltwater for cooling, natural ventilation/lighting, use of recycled materials, sustainable forestry timbers, and water conservation measures.

Seattle Aquarium café/catering

Sodexo, our café/catering partner, has been recognized year after year by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes as a global leader in sustainability performance. The café composts all organic materials, cutting trash by over 75 percent since November of 2010. Grease/waste oils are also utilized for reuse.

Seattle Aquarium gift shop

Even before Seattle’s plastic bag ban took effect, our gift shop eliminated them—and now sells thousands of the popular reusable “UseLess” bags to visitors.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

The Seattle Aquarium Green Team includes LEED professionals with national standing and membership with the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s Green Scientific Advisory Group.


The Aquarium has been awarded five stars, the highest rating, from the King County EnviroStars program for superior management of toxic wastes.