The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will show off more than its animals this weekend.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will show off more than its animals this weekend.

The zoo will offer four free behind-the-scenes sustainability tours Sunday, Oct. 3, as part of the Ohio Solar Tour.

The statewide tour that opens businesses and homes to the public to see how clean energy technology is used every day is organized by Green Energy Ohio, a chapter of the American Solar Energy Society, a news release on the tour said.

This won't be the zoo's first time on the Ohio Solar Tour, but Barb Revard, director of program planning for the zoo, said they'll have a lot more to show.

"We did (the Ohio Solar Tour) the year we opened Habitat Hallow and the My House exhibit," she said.

"It was really more of an educational piece to show a solar panel and what it looks like," Revard continued. "(For this year's tour) we get to the OSU solar house. Everything at that house runs off solar (power). When the house isn't heavily used, it actually sends electricity back to the grid."

The solar house built by Ohio State University students will be one stop on the zoo's tour on Sunday.

"We have the OSU solar decathlon house at the zoo," Revard said. "OSU students helped build an 800-square-foot house that completely runs on solar power. It's the neatest thing. It's got a washer, dryer, oven. It's a really nice little house and it shows that even in Ohio you could live off solar energy."

Other stops on the zoo's sustainability tour include a warehouse recently outfitted with energy-efficient lights and smart skylights that track sunlight with mirrors to offer the most lighting.

"The lighting we just redid this summer. We're just beginning the installation of smart skylights. They'll be able to see one installed and we'll have one not installed to look at on ground level," Revard said, adding that the lights and skylights will work together to adequately light the warehouse year-round.

The zoo's tour will also include a look at how the zoo uses other energy from the earth.

"When we built Polar Frontier we did a geothermal installation," Revard said. "They'll get a tour from the VP of facilities who will talk about the geothermal system used to heat and cool water for the polar bears."

While the zoo will see a return on its investment in these clean energy technologies and smaller energy bills, Revard said a goal of the zoo is to reduce its carbon footprint.

"The tour is really helping us show we've been working on these projects that aren't real noticeable around the zoo," she said. "If you have the opportunity to see a polar bear swimming or read about geothermal energy, you're going to watch the polar bear. It's a really nice showcase for us to talk about some of the sustainability projects we're doing."

The tour could also give people a look at how to incorporate some of these clean energy technologies into their own lives, Revard said.

"More and more people are looking into geothermal for their homes. It's very accessible," she said. As energy prices have increased, "people are looking for alternatives and there have been more advances in the solar industry so prices are going down."

The zoo will hold its sustainability tours at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Oct. 3; Revard said tours will include a mile walk around zoo grounds. The tour will start at the zoo's business office at 1 Jerry Borin Trace, which runs on the north side of the zoo.

The Ohio Solar Tour runs Oct. 2 and 3 and is free. For more information or to check out other sites in central Ohio, look online at