Animal House In St. Louis, LEED Platinum for Dogs and Cats


The Animal House Fund is a public private partnership whose mission is to replace St. Louis City's Animal Care and Control facility with one that is more adoption friendly, thereby reducing the number of strays that are put to sleep.  As a public/private partnership, the funds to build the facility are privately raised, and the new facility will then be handed over to the City of St. Louis.  The current building was built in 1941, and intended to stand a mere two years as a place to gather and put down animals that had been abandoned during World War II.  The new building will set a new standard. 

Since 2003, HOK Architects, which donates 1% of its revenue to pro bono work, has been volunteering time and expertise to the project.  They designed Animal House to house 4,000 animals annually and intend to pursue LEED Platinum certification.  Project architect JoAnn Brookes cites three reasons for pursuing certification: "one, if we can do it we will do it; two, people get excited about it; and three, the Kresge Foundation has a grant program for projects that get LEED Platinum or meet the requirement of the Living Building Challenge." 



So how do you integrate LEED into designing an animal shelter?

In their studies, HOK found that daylight was the biggest factor in making dogs and cats calmer and therefore more adoptable.  Under LEED, points can be garnered by having daylighting and views.  Skylights help dogs know the patterns of the sun.  Cats thrive when they have a window to look out of, preferably if there's a bird feeder outside (cat TV).  While the requirements are strict about the height of windows for human occupants, the USGBC allowed for shorter window heights for non-humans.

Runoff water will be collected in tanks and treated so it can be used to clean cages.  A green roof is planned for part of the roof.  And there will be solar panels to generate electricity.

The facility will be built directly on existing park land, which is controversial.  As part of the master plan, a park-swap has been arranged and a maintenance facility at another park in St. Louis will move to the former Animal Care and Control Facility.  That building will be restored to park land. 

The Animal House Fund is still raising money for the project, which is estimated to cost between four and six million dollars.

Rendering credits: HOK Architects.

  • Portland Real Estate

    Sounds awesome! I have always wished that there was a more humane way to care for homeless animals. Keeping them in small stinky metal cages with nothing to do is cruel. Having them in a fun, healthy place will make more animals happy and happy animals get adopted sooner and stay healthier.

  • Brian N.

    What a great building for a great cause!

    They are absolutely correct about the effect of the surroundings on the animals, too. We operate a dog daycare/ boarding facility and instead of cages we purchased these modular “suites” that are still very tough, but much more like home than any cage. Each one has a large window in back also… The dogs actually run back to their rooms after going out. They love them…

    • Stephen Schenkenberg

      Readers who’d like to learn more about the project are welcome to check out “Who’ll Let the Dogs In?”, which appeared in St. Louis Magazine’s September 2008 issue:

      • Preston

        Wow, that’s quite the comprehensive background on this project. Great link, Stephen.

      • Brian N.

        Thanks for the link! Great Story. Now someone needs to find a way to turn all the dog waste into energy!! I’ll be first in line for that…

  • curious

    How much would the project cost is it weren’t pursuing LEED certification?

    • Frank Robbins

      I’m not too sure how much less it would cost if it wasn’t persuing LEED Certification, but by going for LEED Platinum they’re able to access grant money that’s out there for green building. The building will also be cheaper for the City of St. louis to maintain, which is important for a city agency that is vulnerable to budget costs.

  • Powering_a_Nation

    This is so exciting— HOK does great work. A shelter in Milpitas, Calif., has a similar setup:

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