A city mandate requires Boston’s largest buildings to slash their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A nonprofit is helping cultural institutions take the first big steps.

Two Bactrian camels lumbered out of the June sun into the shade at the edge of their enclosure, to the delight of dozens of squealing schoolchildren. Above them, a canopy of tree branches spread wide, offering reprieve from the heat that baked the Franklin Park Zoo’s paved walkways.

The shady grove is now flourishing, in part because of a rain garden nestled next to the camel exhibit. Only months earlier, a strong storm would have sent water rushing down the walkways, away from the trees and into the city’s sewer system. But the new gardens, planted strategically alongside the camels and by other tree clusters around the zoo, allow trees to suck up the rain before it drains away, minimizing the resources required to care for them during a dry spell.

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