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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Mar/Apr 2002 : What Makes It Green : Rx for Animals


What Make's It Green?
for Animals"

Construction began in January on the new Animal Health Care Facility at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, WA. When completed, the 11,000-square-foot facility will combine new construction with two existing structures that will be reused for portions of the program. Although proper animal care was foremost in the minds of team members at Boxwood, Seattle, WA, as they designed this animal hospital, they also knew that such a facility presented the perfect opportunity for green design.

“Animals are brought to the health care facility when they first arrive at the zoo and need to be quarantined, or when they are sick,” explains Karen Davis Smith, project manager, Boxwood. “So we had to be especially mindful of the animals’ needs. Of course, there are veterinarians and others who work in the building, so we also had to accommodate their practical needs even as we made the building comfortable for the animals. We realized that what was good for the animals would likely be good for the people working in the building, too.”



Six Submissions to the annual "What Makes It Green?" exhibit.

With this in mind, Boxwood strived to maximize natural light and ventilation. In fact, these two design elements drove the form of the building. According to Smith, the building’s roof will have a butterfly form, and clerestory windows at the roof line will be operable. Some walls in the animal holding area are ventilated to allow light and air to pass into the facility’s enclosed areas. The surgical room is necessarily closed off from natural ventilation. However, daylight enters through observation windows that allow passersby to see inside the operating room and other treatment rooms.

This ability to observe the facility’s inner workings was one of the client’s primary goals in order to educate visitors—including tours of schoolchildren, the zoo’s patrons and donors and professional veterinary colleagues—and to promote the zoo’s commitment to sustainability. Actually, much of what is green in the animal health care facility is visible.

The facility’s green roof will reduce HVAC loads and long-term energy costs, as well as surface water run off. In addition, the green roof will filter pollutants from storm water and improve the air quality and microclimate of the site. Solar panels are a redundant system and will initially mean more in up-front costs; however, the panels ultimately will reduce long-term energy costs for heating water and provide radiant floor heat. A rainwater harvesting system offers the potential for reduced water consumption for landscaping.

Recycled materials abound. First, rather than demolish two existing structures on the site, Boxwood’s design integrates an adaptive reuse of these buildings with new construction to form the new Animal Health Care Facility. Recyclable cement board panels have been specified for some exterior walls. The design also specifies the use of recycled glass cullet for backfill, pipe bedding and roof ballast; recycled aggregate in concrete; and ozone safe insulation. Pervious paving materials that consist of 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic will be utilized rather than a paved driveway. Wood siding for the building will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure that it is harvested in ways that conserve biological diversity. Framing members with structural dimensions too large to come from well-managed forests will be replaced with Glu-lams and Paralams.

Specified materials for the facility come from predominantly local products and materials. The countertops will be a composite material made from sunflower seeds called Dakota Burl, for which no VOCs are emitted during the manufacturing process. Finally, 50 percent fly ash will be used in the concrete substructure to reduce CO2 emissions.

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