Animal Shelters are Going Green

The going green movement is working it’s way to our animal shelters.

Many cities now require green or LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) practices be followed on any new construction or remodeling of city owned buildings.

That includes the animal shelter. Costs are reduced, resources saved and a healthier work environment is created for employees. For animals, it speeds adoption. A safe environment calms dogs in a more relaxed setting. Communal living space for felines show kitties at their best.

It’s also the right thing to do.

Reducing the Carbon Paw Print

Dave Dickinson, director of Sacramento County Animal Care, a LEED Gold-certified shelter, says, “The building is an extraordinary environment for both animals and employees.”

With floors of polished concrete instead of tile, there’s no grout to harbor hidden bacteria. Concrete is a sustainable material and when sealed, can withstand a lot of mopping, a daily necessity in shelters.

Reduce Electrical Costs and Pet Stress

Under constant bright lights, animals never reach a deep, restful level of sleep. Lights programmed to dim gradually allow for a natural sleep cycle.

Another way to reduce the cost of electricity is by maximizing natural light from windows or skylights. For shelters not yet ready to go LEED, these practices are easy and inexpensive to implement.

Location, Location, Location

Strategic placement of the dog runs and decorative potted plants to block their view of one another reduces stress and barking. A communal setup for cats with room to run, climb on carpeted furnishings and play with each other mimics a homelike setting.

Health Matters

“The city of Denver consistently chose the best options for the animals and the environment, while being mindful of the budget,” says Scott Jones, of Denver’s Air Purification Company. “It’s the benchmark for future designs; on a larger scale, our model can be used for hospitals.”

Denver’s LEED Platinum-certified, 36,000-square-foot shelter is twice the size of the former facility. Air circulation helps prevent the spread of canine flu, kennel cough and staph infections, and maintain a healthy operating room while regulating temperatures throughout the facility.

Show Me the Money

Buildings of all types consume an average of 72 percent of the electricity generated worldwide. That can be reduced by up to 50 percent with green building practices. Melinda Haggerty, sustainability and communications coordinator for Plano, Texas says, “It might cost a bit more on the front end, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Reduced energy and water usage and healthy air quality contribute to a comfortable work space. Employees have pride in the facility, and that makes them more productive.”

The Benefits

“There’s a conceptual moment when the dream comes together as a design idea. From that moment on, the question is: How much of the dream can you keep?” asks George Meiers, architect. “These cities made LEED a priority, even when animal control projects may be at the bottom of the list. They recognize the synergy between caring for animals and caring about the planet; green design underscores the caring.”

Meet the Author: Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy writes magazine articles about all kinds of animals, pets or exotics, marine life too, eco-friendly living and weird topics that catch her fancy. In her spare time, she writes fiction, mostly mysteries with a twist. With all the research, her browser history is intriguing to say the least. She lives in St. Louis with two bossy cats and Ozzie, a very tolerant dog.

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