The RMH Group, Lakewood, Colo., was presented with an Honor Award as well as a National Recognition Award at the national Engineering Excellence Awards. The gala was hosted by the American Council of Engineering Cos. for The RMH Group’s role in the design of the new Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit at the Denver Zoo.

Photo courtesy of The RMH Group
The Denver Zoo and The RMH Group were presented with a national Honor Award at the ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. on April 23. From left: George Pond, Denver Zoo vice president for planning and capital projects; Kirsten Cremona, RMH Group project manager and electrical engineer; and Bill Green, RMH Group president.
Photo courtesy of the Denver Zoo
Denver Zoo visitors enjoy the sights and sounds of the new Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit, which provides 88,000 sq ft of interactive indoor-outdoor habitat on a 10-acre campus. Elephants, rhinos and tapirs rotate among six interconnected habitats that offer the animals a varied terrain.

The black-tie gala—known as the Academy Awards of the engineering industry—was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. on April 23. Only 16 of the 146 National Recognition Award winners were also presented with an Honor Award at the annual event, which honors the previous year’s most outstanding engineering accomplishments from across the country.

Toyota Elephant Passage, an 88,000-sq-ft, indoor-outdoor Southeast Asia-themed habitat, is the first zoo exhibit in the U.S. to receive LEED-Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The project team utilized a variety of innovative heating and cooling systems to keep the zoo’s diverse animal species comfortable year-round in the high desert climate, while also minimizing energy and resource use.

Features include a biomass gasification used to produce both electricity and power on site from zoo waste and an advanced underground water filtration system that recycles most of the 1.1 million gal. of water used for animal swimming pools.

“We are proud to have had a role in this truly innovative project,” said Bill Green, president of The RMH Group. “The real credit goes to the Denver Zoo, which challenged the entire design team to step outside convention to achieve very high energy-efficiency and sustainability goals. The result is an exhibit that is already gaining international recognition as the best man-made habitat ever created for Asian elephants.”

Judging for the top awards took place in February, conducted by a nationwide panel of more than 30 engineers, architects, government representatives, media members and academics. Awards criteria included uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, complexity and success in enhancing the practice of engineering.

The RMH Group won the highest honor from ACEC at the state level, the “Grand Conceptor” Award, in November, which made the firm eligible for the national competition. The Toyota Elephant Passage project was entered in the competition’s Building/Technology Systems category.

Philadelphia-based CLR Design served as the project’s prime design consultant. Kiewit Building Group, with offices in Englewood, Colo., was the project’s general contractor.