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Field Trip: Saving Animals, Saving the Planet

A Louisiana parish upgrades to a green shelter

  • Sue Sampey of the Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society in Louisiana plays with dog on a “pop it”-style water sprinkler system at the parish’s new animal shelter. RAYMUND FERRER/PLAQUEMINES PARISH ANIMAL CONTROL DEPARTMENT

Change has come to Plaquemines Parish in a big, green way.

The jurisdiction at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana recently built a $3.8 million animal shelter in Belle Chasse that aims to save not only animals, but energy. The shelter features many environmentally friendly amenities, from a permeable parking lot that allows rainwater to seep into the ground (thus reducing runoff) to a geothermal HVAC system that saves electricity by pulling heat from the Earth via underground pipes.

Officials plan to seek certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, a federal initiative that recognizes buildings for incorporating environmentally beneficial design and construction features. The facility could become not only the first LEED-certified animal shelter in the region, but also one of only a handful in the country, and the first LEED-certified building in the parish, says Raymund Ferrer, superintendent of the parish’s animal control department.

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