In 2009, the Humane Society Silicon Valley opened their $25 million state-of-the-art, eco-friendly animal shelter. Rather than simply building a structure full of cages, they created a 48,000-square-foot animal community center on a 5-acre lot. 

It was the first “green” animal shelter in the country and utilizes a Photovoltaic solar system to generate 40-50 percent of the energy it uses. Artificial turf in the exercise area conserves water, as well as in the dog park where native plants also contribute to water savings. The kennel cleaning system was efficiently designed to use minimal water and can be accessed from different areas in the facility, operating like a central vacuum in a house.

It was a happy day for the trees as none were cut down in the shelter’s construction and the older trees were deliberately preserved to shade the dog park. The builders reused 90 percent of the concrete from the prior building foundations and donated office furniture was the choice decor.

Seventy-five percent of the building basks in natural light from its large windows and solar light pipes, which reduces electrical bills and has a soothing effect on people and animals. The building’s HVAC system captures cooling and heating from exhausted ventilated air and reuses it to create fresh air while saving energy.

The shelter includes a dog park, a training center, a low-cost spay and neuter medical center, doggy day care, a veterinary hospital, boarding and grooming facilities, an education center, a pet supply store and even a pet-friendly café.

Animals roam freely rather than circle in cages. In this warm, natural setting surrounded by furniture, not steel bars, the animals are happier and visitors can get a better sense of a pet’s personality.

This trailblazing animal shelter has provided a healthy and nurturing atmosphere for people and animals alike, and has set a precedent for future shelters to adopt similar community enriching eco-friendly practices.