A modern zoo with a maritime complex in the centre of Rotterdam, Rotterdam Zoo is a major tourist attraction with 1.5 million visitors per year. Inherent to the needs of a zoo, energy consumption is relatively high: 8.4 million kWh and 1.2 million m3 gas annually. For years now, the Zoo has worked towards reducing its energy consumption and raising awareness on energy use amongst visitors.

Main characteristics of the pilot project
The ILLUMINATE framework for the Rotterdam Zoo focused on providing a revamped lighting design in three areas of the zoo which in total represent 10 sub projects.
For all the back of animal houses and maintenance areas, the main requirements were:

  •  minimum illuminance levels had to be achieved
  •  excessive glare had to be avoided
  •  the system could be dimmable and linked to motion sensors whenever possible.

All of this with the aim of improving the lighting conditions, reducing the energy consumption and lowering maintenance interventions.
Other areas such as offices had slightly different requirements and for the highly specialised areas such as laboratories and analysis rooms, the lighting design had to:

  • be a highly flexible design, with possibility to control luminaires and rearrange equipment
  • integrate with the existing installation where necessary, and provide general lighting for the corridors and connection areas
  • provide lighting cut-off to eliminate reflections on working planes.

Where flexibility is required, individual luminaires have to be used to allow for localised control.

One of the very specific characteristic of this pilot is that the LED lighting system was installed above algae growth tanks and aquarium tanks. Scientific studies show that the light spectrum of LEDs can actually improve the growth of some coral species. The most important requirement in this area is that life support requirements are met. The choice of fittings are determined by the appropriate spectral distribution and light flux output. In the case of the aquarium tanks, the lighting system also simulates daylight filtering through the water as seen from the public viewing corridors below. For this reason, higher colour temperature fittings will be preferred as they are closer to daylight colour.


Besides the general lighting conditions improvements, the results obtained in terms of energy consumption are really good, taking into account that the lighting system of the Rotterdam zoo was already quite efficient. Actually the Light on Demand system (with motion sensors) in the circulation areas and technical rooms is a real energy saver as in this area the light cannot be totally switched off for security reason. So the lights are dimmed when no one is there and as soon as a presence is detected, the light is switched on to its maximum. The graph below illustrates the savings made thanks to this system.

Awareness-raising activities

The Rotterdam Zoo does a lot of awareness-raising activities on all the sustainable measures it is taking to lower the impact on the Zoo and on climate change while improving the animals’ living conditions.

Besides programmes on sustainable food for the animals, the Zoo also runs many projects on sustainable energy, like the photovoltaic installation that is powering the penguins’ area. The LED system is now a further step towards a more sustainable Zoo!

YouTube Video