PAWS for Life is dedicated to saving animals. And, the limited admittance shelter in Pueblo, Colo., is doing its part to help the environment.
PAWS, built without taxpayer funding, features a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building, known as LEED, and is using geothermal heating to heat and cool the complicated interior of a building currently housing at least 50 dogs and cats, reports The Pueblo Chieftain.
Environmental relief, by using the LEED building, geothermal heating and a solar array, is part of a plan to save money on energy and devote that to the welfare of its animal population, board member Carol Warner said.
“We started thinking about this since 2005, when we started working on new construction for this building and decided to make it a LEED-certified building, even though we knew there were extra costs involved. We wanted to reduce the costs in utilities and use the money to provide for the animals.
“We could have built a barn. But several people who were wiser than we were said why ‘don’t you build a green building and eventually it will reduce the costs of their utilities.’ It will eventually pay for itself.”
The PAWS complex must follow certain rules. The building must remain at a constant 74 degrees and the air must be “changed” 15 times each hour.
“That’s a good reason for geothermal,” said Paul Huber, who is handling the geothermal work for PAWS, which has been an entity in Pueblo since 1978.
“It takes a lot of energy. An air handler that changes and exchanges the heat energy we get from the geothermal system and using heat pumps to make up the difference and make the temperature where we need it to be.”
On the southeast side of the complex there are 32 vertical 400-foot deep holes that “go down into bedrock,” Huber said. “The length of that was determined by the heating and cooling load of the building. We have pretty good cooling and heating load because of the air changes we have to make. It’s a pretty good-sized field.
“The geothermal supply and return line the geothermal fluid goes through completes the whole loop and circulates back again into the building and go through heat exchangers inside mechanical equipment and in conjunction with the heat pump either heats or cools the space required.”
Which makes for some warm and fuzzy animals, which the staff hopes will result in warm and loving homes for the cats and dogs.
PAWS is an independent organization, which does not use taxpayer funds, Warner proudly pointed out a few times. Donations, grants and the estates of animal lovers supply the funds to pay a staff of 11 and keep the canines and felines fed and comfortable.
The geothermal project will hopefully eliminate the need of buying $16,000 worth of propane a year, Warner said.
“PAWS is a remarkable example of a Pueblo nonprofit taking energy self-sufficiency into their own hands to deal with the expensive energy rates we face as a community,” Sierra Club local Chairwoman Charlotte Bieber. “Embracing renewable energy enables PAWS to honor their supporters’ donations by making wise choices for their long-term sustainability as an organization.”