[Editor’s Note: Since the publishing of this story, it has come to our attention that this facility is reportedly not the first such building of its type in the country to go LEED Gold. The Potter League for Animals in Rhode Island apparently achieved this designation when its green design garnered its own LEED Gold last year.]
Is LEED certification going to the dogs? Not really – the program by the U.S. Green Building Council for green buildings is still one of the best in the country. The reason we do mention the dog reference though is that the Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) announced recently it had become the first “animal community center” in the nation to get LEED Gold certification.
HSSV, which is based in Milptias, California, is housed in a new facility which, according to the organization, is a marked improvement over an older location that caused upper respiratory infection and kennel cough issues in animals because of “stress, small cages, overcrowding and poor air exchange.” The new building is not like that at all, with all animals being housed in “individual room-like condos with 100% air exchange.” Dogs and cats are also more separated, allowing the felines to “perform more natural behaviors like stretching, hiding, and climbing vertically.”
A good number of green techniques were integrated into the new HSSV center to give it the LEED Gold certification. The largest solar installation in Milpitas to date – 274 kW, or enough power to meet around 33 percent of the building’s energy needs – was one green feature put into place. Also factored into the center was use of 90 percent of the concrete from the old building’s foundations in the new construction; heat recovery wheels in the HVAC system to capture and reuse heating and cooling while filtering air and providing 100% air exchange; a reflective roof to minimize solar heating of the building in the winter and reduce air-conditioning costs in the summer; and onsite bioswales to capture and naturally cleanse rainwater run-off before it enters the water treatment system.
“We achieved our Gold LEED certification by reducing our electricity demands and water consumption through a variety of conservation technologies and products while providing state-of-the-art animal care,” said Carol Novello, HSSV’s president, in a statement. “Our Animal Community Center represents a progressive shift in animal care and has truly become an inspiring model of humane care, community involvement and green building design for shelters nationwide.”