MacLean Conservation Center
MacLean Conservation Center


Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL



Brookfield Zoo’s former Reptile House, which dates back to 1934, underwent an extensive transformation and reopened in 2013 as the Center for Conservation Leadership. Alligators and other previous denizens of the building were moved to other zoo exhibits to make way for the renovation. Now the 11,000-square-foot, LEED Gold-certified Center houses offices and meeting rooms, and is used mainly for educational programs focusing on conservation.


Green Upgrade Details


During the rehab of the Center, three existing skylights were upgraded, with the twin goals of increasing energy efficiency and maximizing distribution of sunlight throughout the high-ceilinged building. Automatic daylight sensors and occupancy sensors were installed to cut down on electricity use, and insulation added to the attic and exterior masonry shield the building from temperature extremes.


Designers of the remodeled structure relied on creative use of existing building elements and salvaged and sustainable materials. The attic contains mineral fiber insulation with recycled content. Cabinets are made of recycled sorghum straw and wheatboard, the conference table is bamboo, floors are linoleum, terrazzo, and recycled corkboard, carpeting is recycled (and recyclable) square tiles, and adhesives and paints contain minimal volatile chemicals.


One of the most innovative energy-saving features of the Center is the icemaker tank installed behind the building. In the summer, during off-peak hours, i.e. nighttime, ice is generated and stored for use in the air-conditioning system the next day when temperatures are warmer.


Major Players


  • Environmental Systems Design

  • InSite Consulting Architects

  • TKA

  • Paschen Construction

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