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In 2005 the Animal Foundation of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, consolidated its animal-care campus to expand services for animal sheltering and adoption needs for the entire region. The resulting dog adoption park innovatively houses adoptable dogs in groups of 10 - 12 within a community of 22 energy-efficient bungalows. One of the primary goals was to provide a sophisticated and innovative presentation of the animals in the hopes it would improve their chances for adoption. The Foundation also set out to construct a facility that has become a model for bioclimatic design in the arid Southwest US where it harvests energy and conserves and recycles water. The green building design, by Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects, incorporates wind turbines and photovoltaic solar cells that meet more than 65 percent of the facility’s energy needs. Skylights provide a natural light source while a passive air ventilation concept maintains circulation by means of solar chimneys that draw heat from the facility. A hybrid ventilation system keeps areas cool within the buildings while diminishing associated animal odors. Potable water consumption was reduced by more than 80 percent through the reuse and recirculation of gray and black water that has been cleaned in an on-site water reclamation system called a Living Machine. The project won a Top Ten Green Projects award in 2006 from the American Institute of Architects and is LEED Platinum-certified. (Scroll to bottom for additional resources.)
A healthy, pleasant and comfortable environment is considered important to visitor attitudes on adoption and the mood and health of sheltered animals. The costs of maintaining this environment, however, are exceptionally high and directly impact the scale of the Animal Foundation’s operations. The goal of the design team was to minimize facility costs without affecting the quality of the adoption experience. Given southern Nevada’s climate, reducing the dog bungalows’ cooling load and water use were identified as the two major areas of focus for facility efficiency in the tough Nevada climate.
The Solar Panels
Designing an energy-efficient building helps reduce pollution from burning fossil fuels, reduce disturbance of natural habitats for the harvesting of resources and minimizes global warming. The project is a leader in the use of renewable energy by relying on photovoltaic panels and wind turbines to produce a portion of the project’s energy needs The building operates more efficiently in comparison to a typical shelter through the use of monitoring and specialized cooling / heating equipment. Windows bringing in natural daylight reduce the center’s demand for electricity.
The photovoltaic panels are mounted on canopies that also serve to shade the dog adoption park. The solar PV arrays are oriented on 24-degree angled, (south-facing) independent shade structures. Each structure accommodates eight (8) 160 watt solar modules. The 24 solar shade structures accommodate up to 30 kilowatts DC. This solar installation produces an approximate average of 150 kilowatt-hours AC per day annually. This equates to 28 percent of all electrical energy demands for the Dog Adoption Park. All equipment used on the project, Sunnyboy 6000U Inverters and Sharp ND-167U3 modules, are in accordance with the California Energy Commission “List of Eligible Renewable Equipment”. Additionally, the project is in compliance with the Nevada Statewide Energy Conservation Plan and the Governor’s Energy Protection Plan.
Photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, and solar collectors respond in a unified fashion to make the Regional Animal Campus the most energy–efficient facility in Nevada. With the guiding principles of sustainability, the Animal Foundation has committed to take an active role in conserving our natural resources.
Forest Stewardship Council Certified Wood
While this is a large project, each dog bungalow is a small project in itself. It was the owner’s vision that this project would have no compromises in including the highest level of sustainable design & material selection. The bungalows are constructed of fully recyclable or recycled materials, with FSC-certified wood frame construction. Being a part of architect’s presentations, project marketing brochures and educational booths, the sustainable aspects of the project are explained to the users and general public. Even though the exterior siding is steel, this project has set an example for FSC-certified products in the region and hence, helped to transform the marketplace. The total wood used in the project is 16.48 percent of total material cost. Sixty-four percent of this wood is from FSC-certified forest products, including Roseburg Forest Products CDX Plywood and Potlatch – Lewiston / Clearwatter Dimensional Lumber.
The Living Machine
In 2005, the Animal foundation, located in Las Vegas Nevada, significantly expanded its animal holding and adoption facilities at the Regional Animal Campus (RAC). The increased number of kennels and runs for the dogs require up to 10,000 gallons per day (gpd) of water for wash down. As part of an overall sustainable design approach, wastewater generated by the RAC is treated by a Tidal Flow Wetland Living Machine® system and reused for kennel wash down and other appropriate uses. The RAC Living Machine® system meets the stringent requirements of wastewater treatment mandated by the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and can clean up to 10,000 gpd of wastewater. The Living Machine® system was chosen for its low energy usage and low operating and maintenance requirements.
At maximum loading, wastewater flow rates for wash down from the kennels vary between 5,000 and 10,000 gpd. The wastewater strength is fairly high and the process of washing kennels generates a high volume of wastewater in a very short time, usually 2 hours. This type of flow pattern would cause problems for most treatment processes, including passive settling tanks. Our Living Machine® system engineers knew that equalizing this flow to allow the treatment system components to function properly was critical and designed an equalization tank to spreadthe flow over a period of 18 to 20 hours.
Wastewater from a variety of RAC sources, including kennel and veterinary room wash down, cooler blow down, and domestic facilities, is collected in a 22,000 gallon primary equalization tank. The wastewater is then pumped through a 20,000 gallon final settling tank prior to treatment by the Living Machine® system. Effluent from the primary tank is pumped into an outdoor Tidal Wetland Living Machine® system that consists of six watertight basins containing subsurface plumbing, gravel-like media, and an assortment of plantings. Thin films of beneficial microorganisms grow on the surface of the treatment media. The Living Machine® tidal wetland cells go through “fill and drain” cycles. The draining process allows oxygen to flood the basins providing ample nitrification of the wastewater. Treated effluent from the tidal wetland cells is disinfected and polished by ozone injection, ultraviolet light, and a tablet chlorinator system. Polished water is pumped into a 30,000 gallon reuse holding tank, where water is stored until it is used as facility wash down water in outdoor animal holding areas.
Benefits of the Living Machine
The need for dramatic water conservation measures in the Las Vegas region led the Animal Foundation to seek a means to collect wastewater generated from the facility (especially kennel wash down drainage) treat it, and reuse it for wash down and other appropriate uses. The Living Machine® system allowed the RAC to meet its goal of significantly reducing water and energy use, while providing safe treatment of wastewater. With minimal operator attention, the Living Machine® system supplies the volume of reuse water needed for the increased number of kennels and runs for the dogs. In addition, the Living Machine® system provides opportunities for public education and interaction, showcasing a water reuse system with broad applications in water short areas.