During the summer of California’s rolling blackouts, we thought seriously about how to reduce our power use. We doubled our resolve when we heard certain politicians advocating drilling for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge.
With the help and expertise of Steve Moss from the San Francisco Community Power Cooperative, we were able to install a massive 33 kilowatt solar system that generates more than half of the electricity we use. That’s enough to power over a dozen homes in San Francisco.
At the time it went live, it was San Francisco’s largest solar system and third largest power producer. Today, Pet Camp is one of the largest privately financed solar power systems in the City.
At Cat Safari, we have installed a photovoltaic system on the roof to provide us with the electricity. For our hot water, we use solar thermal and tankless hot water systems. On most days, the solar thermal system provides all the hot water we need. On those days that the solar thermal can’t meet our needs on its own, it will pre-heat water before the water circulates through a tankless water heater.
To trim our energy consumption, we converted all our fluorescent tubes to LED fixtures and all of our major electrical equipment including our central wet/dry vacuum system and pressure washer all run on 3-phase 240 power.
Breath of Fresh Air
Pet Camp’s ventilation system changes the air in the dog campsite 15 times an hour.
After a year of research seeking the best, most energy efficient way to keep Pet Camp’s indoor air quality continuously fresh, we settled on Big Ass Fans. Using only 58 watts, these slow-spinning giants move 68,000 cubic feet of air per minute, continually blending the air in the dog area and using less power than a 60 watt light bulb to do it!
These High Volume Low Speed or HVLS fans (as they’re officially known) were originally designed for use in the dairy industry. We use them to circulate air to help prevent the spread of airborne germs. We were the first pet boarding facility to use this technology.
We sincerely thank the San Francisco Community Power Cooperative for its assistance in funding the HVLS fans and for all of its support in energy conservation. We hope our successful use of these fans encourages other businesses to implement this energy saving technology.
Pet Camp is part of an experimental pilot program on composting dog poop. In conjunction with Recology and the City of San Francisco, we are now composting the dog waste generated at Pet Camp — Don’t try this at home, kids! Dog waste is not traditionally accepted in compost bins!
In this program, Pet Camp’s dog waste is blended with other “green” waste at the East Bay Municipal Water District to generate methane gas. The gas is then turned into electricity to run the water treatment facility. Adding composting to our recycling efforts has allowed us to divert more than 80% of our waste stream away from landfill.
Tankless Water Heater
One of the big issues and costs with tankless hot water heaters in the City (where most flues have to go up to the roof) is the cost of the required stainless steel flues. To avoid this issue, we developed a system that placed the tankless system on the roof. It was easier and less expensive to run insulated copper pipe from the roof down than it was to run a stainless steel flue from the bottom to the roof.
At Cat Safari, we have a greenhouse to give our urban-indoor cats a chance to play in the great outdoors. They love exploring the great “outdoors” in a safe environment. What the cats don’t know is that on the cooler days, when the greenhouse air gets warm, we use the warmth generated in the greenhouse to heat the building.
Cat Safari Construction
To ensure the long term health and safety of both the campers and counselors, we used formaldehyde-free products in our construction.
The Pet Camp Meadow
Not only is a glass retractable roof amazingly cool, it also allows us to use a lot less power to light the 3,300 square foot indoor/outdoor dog park. When open, the roof also allows more fresh air to flow into Pet Camp further reducing the need for mechanical systems to bring air into Pet Camp and thus reducing energy use.