Chris DeNicola, Columnist

Cincinnati is the kind of place that, if you weren’t born or raised here, you’re not really sure what the city is known for. Someone might know that it is called the Queen City, that professional baseball started with the Cincinnati Redlegs, or that the city used to be one of the largest pork producers in the United States. However, the city itself doesn’t often make the national news. Because of this, you might not think that Cincinnati is trying to become one of the leaders in the switch to green energy, according to a recent Cincinnati Enquirer article. Thanks to the Cincinnati Zoo, the city is becoming just that.

The Zoo has installed nearly four acres of solar panels in its parking lot. This is one of the largest public solar panel displays in the whole country!

The project has thrust the city to the forefront of those making an effort to use cleaner energy to power our lives. The panels are projected to use the sun to power at least 20 percent of the zoo’s annual electricity, which would be the equivalent of nearly two hundred homes, according to the article. Already the installation is having an impact around the country as other zoos have started looking into the possibility of installing solar panels in their lots.

This is great publicity for the zoo and for the city itself. However, it is even greater for the change that could occur from it. Raju Yenamandra, the vice president of SolarWorld, the company that created the solar panels for the zoo, believes that the greatest impact could be on the minds of children who visit.

“When you think of the number of people who visit the zoo (about 1.3 million annually), particularly younger kids, the educational aspect will be fantastic,” he told USA Today.

The man is right. Children are incredibly impressionable. If they grow up visiting a place that is doing everything it can to use clean and dependable energy, such as the sun, the influence it has could be enormous. After all, these children are the future of our country. Giving them this example will help them to grow up thinking of new ways to produce clean energy.

Hopefully, tourist attractions all over the world will take the zoo’s example and make similar decisions in their future. Just think about how many solar panels could be put above the parking lot at Disney World!

The panels would not only be producing energy efficient electricity for the park, but it also might keep the seat of your car cooler in the hot summer months, or protect you from inclement weather on a stormy day.

All in all, the zoo is doing its part to make sure that our future is not entirely dependent of fossil fuels. Businesses around the world should look into similar ideas and technologies. They should use this example of a way to think outside of the box in order to help preserve our earth.

Even if you aren’t a believer in global warming (which I am not) or a person who would ever step foot in an electric car (I’m on the fence about this one) you should be able to see that energy efficiencies are good for the environment. Anyone who can make a difference should be doing so simply because it is the right thing to do.

Cincinnati has the right idea and is setting the example. Luckily they’re getting some attention for it. So if you can’t remember anything else about the Cincinnati, know that it is doing its part to preserve our future.