The U.S. hosts no less than half a dozen easily identifiable and distinct climate zones. Some of the terms used by climatologists to describe these zones worldwide include subarctic, highlands, marine west coast, humid continental, humid subtropical, semiarid, arid and tropical.
Animal care facilities are uniquely impacted by climatic differences due to a greater than normal amount of fresh outside air that is needed to control odor and disease inside the building. Depending on the region, here are some strategies to save energy while providing appropriate amounts of fresh outside air ventilation:
- Energy recovery mechanical equipment allows you to utilize the air you are exhausting to precondition the fresh air that you are taking into the building. This can cut down on both energy use and the cost of cooling or heating the air. This is particularly important when you consider that most veterinary and animal shelter projects have very high exhaust rates; you have to take in a lot of new, unconditioned air to replace what you deplete. A heat recovery unit with an "energy wheel" enables you to transfer hot or cool air from the exhaust to the intake without the two air streams coming into contact with each other - something that is critical when it comes to controlling infections and odors.
- Evaporative cooling units or swamp coolers are effective for most areas west of the Mississippi River. An evaporative cooler effectively cools the air you take into the building by passing it over an element with water running over it. The only catch is that an evaporative cooler only works where humidity is low. Some places in the west, such as Phoenix, have introduced so much water into the environment for irrigation that evaporative coolers are no longer effective.
- We investigated wind towers for a pet resort project that we are designing in Dubai. During the night the wind towers, or malqaf in Arabic, catch and bring fresh, cool air into buildings. During the day the natural tendency of heat to rise causes the towers to work like solar chimneys, drawing hot air out of the building.
- A simple ceiling fan is another easy solution. Moving air feels cooler. While a ceiling fan does not do anything to exhaust odors, it is a cost-effective way to bring some cooling and ventilation to your building.
- Temperate areas (often coastal or mountain areas) can take advantage of their climate by properly orienting their buildings to allow passive ventilation from the prevailing breezes. The state of Hawaii promotes natural ventilation as part of their culture and because of the practicality of taking advantage of the trade winds. This has given us the opportunity and the flexibility to design a much more environmentally-friendly animal shelter in Kona.