The combination of several strategies in a well-designed shelter can accomplish effective noise control while making it a pleasant place to work and visit. Plan to separate kennel areas from administrative ones with a heavy masonry wall, and provide double door anti-spaces adjacent to the kennels to prevent noise transmission down corridors. Additional sound isolation can be achieved through the use of two staged ceilings in the kennels. Including acoustical tile and sound-insulating construction above further reduces transmission of sound through the ceiling and roof. Carefully sealing around all penetrations, doors and windows is equally crucial to keep sound from moving easily through the “cracks.”
Air Quality & Ventilation
Another strategy for reducing noise contamination also benefits the maintenance of air quality and ventilation. The shelter's design should use separate HVAC systems -- which stands for "heating, ventilation and air conditioning" -- for administrative and animal areas to ensure proper air quality throughout the building. The animal areas require one of two approaches: more frequent air changes per hour than the administrative areas or an ultraviolet filtering system to destroy air borne bacteria and viruses. Coupled with the previously recommended strategies, this separation provides a positive means for containing noise from the kennels and keeping public areas of the building sufficiently quiet. The separation extends further, in that the areas needed for isolation do not cross-contaminate the supply and exhaust air in other areas. Systems must be carefully designed to reduce or eliminate the possibility of mixing air between individual kennel runs or cat cages, and certainly between dog and cat areas. A Mechanical Engineer experienced in the design of HVAC for animal shelters is a necessity. This design component is not one to leave in the hands of a design-build subcontractor.
A sanitary facility with properly separated HVAC systems will also control the spread of odors. Highly washable surfaces in kennels and feline areas along with well-designed air exhaust will keep your shelter as fresh as possible. Proper pressurization will keep air flowing into those areas that are the source of odors so that they are forced to flow out via the designed exhaust and not into adjacent spaces. Filters and air purification can also aid in the fight against spreading odor.
We recommend individual floor drains for each kennel run, both interior and exterior, to assure complete separation of waste water from one run to another. Trench type drains, however well-designed, cannot achieve this level of separation and are thus not as hygienic a solution as having individual drains in each run. This is one of the most critical decisions you can make to assure a healthy environment for the animals you are sheltering, and the cost is fully justified.
Natural light can make significant positive contributions to the ambiance of your shelter. This must be complimented, however, with artificial lighting designed to provide appropriate levels of illumination for each environment. The lighting design should encompass several important effects. The first is to positively illuminate potential adoptees so that they “display” well to visitors. Secondly, a lower but adequate level of illumination should be created in the public corridors so that they give the animals safe, comfortable passage through the building. Of course, administrative areas must be lighted sufficiently well to achieve the tasks at hand. Accent lighting in the form of soffit lights or wall sconces can provide a pleasant background and offers the ability to vary the lighting scheme. From an energy standpoint, lights controlled by motion detectors go on automatically when someone enters the room and turn off when no motion is detected for a period of time. We recommend the use of fluorescent lighting because of its low energy use and long-lived lamps. “Warmer” rather than “cooler” lamps will provide a more natural feel.
Surface texture is the source of the single biggest mistakes when choosing animal-area flooring. Any kennel attendant can tell you that it is easier to pick up animal waste from a smooth floor than a coarsely textured one. Fortunately, most common flooring surfaces in shelters today are slip-resistant even when wet with a sufficiently smooth surface for easy cleaning.
Selecting flooring materials and finishes for your shelter is an exercise in balancing appearance with initial cost, life cycle cost, and durability. Characteristics must include:
- Visually appealing
- Easily cleanable
- Non-absorbent to liquids and odors
- Prevents microbial growth
Ceramic tile in public walking areas is perfectly suitable as is vinyl composition tile (VCT), which is considerably less expensive. In the areas where cleaning is a constant, epoxy resin flooring meets all of the listed criteria and is recommended as the best option in virtually all animal areas. Carpet in administrative offices and other support areas is good for sound control, is easy on the feet and is also quite economical.