Green Doghouse Challenge

I saw this press release today and had to share it. I hope someone I know will enter. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity to showcase green building technologies while supporting the SPCA of Tompkins County!


Image courtesy of suphakit73 at

to benefit Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County
and the SPCA of Tompkins County

The annual Ithaca Area Green Buildings Open House is one of the premier events of its kind in the country, showcasing two dozen homes and businesses that feature both cutting-edge and traditional, time-honored green building methods, materials, and technologies.

In conjunction with the SPCA of Tompkins County, the first animal shelter in the nation to receive LEED Silver certification, we’re bringing the green to our four-legged friends, with a challenge to build the ‘greenest’ doghouse in Tompkins County. We invite you to design and build a doghouse using principles of sustainable building. Doghouses will be on display as part of the 2014 Ithaca-Area Green Buildings Open House Weekend (Saturday & Sunday, October 4 & 5, 2014) and will be auctioned as a joint fundraiser for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and the SPCA of Tompkins County at the opening party at the SPCA of Tompkins County on Friday, October 3rd.

Important Dates
September 12th – application due and team materials packet last pick-up date
October 1st – doghouses to be delivered to SPCA of Tompkins County
October 3rd – GBOH weekend opening party, with silent auction of the doghouses
October 17th – all doghouses must be removed from SPCA property

Design Specifications

  • Your house should have outdoor functionality. This means it should have a roof and should be waterproof.
  • You may use any durable materials, whether recycled, reused, or purchased. It is highly recommended that you use materials that cannot be easily destroyed by dogs or Central New York weather.
  • While there are no dimensional restrictions, your doghouse must be movable. The doghouse must be able to be transported to the SPCA and the buyer must be able to transport the doghouse to his/her home.
  • Please consider using one or more of the following ‘green’ features in your doghouse:
    o Blown cellulose insulation
    o Local materials
    o Reclaimed or salvaged materials
    o Living roof
    o Non-toxic finishes
    o Passive Solar
    o Rainwater catchment system

Guidelines for Entry

  • This competition is open to all individuals, students, businesses, and other groups.
  • The non-refundable entry fee is $25. The first 6 entries received will be reimbursed with a $25 gift certificate to Agway TrueValue for use on the building of your doghouse.
  • Enter online here: . The application and entry fee are due by 4 PM on September 12th, 2014. Gift certificates should be picked up by that date.
  • All entries must be complete and dropped off at the SPCA of Tompkins County on Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 between the hours of 12 PM and 6 PM. Entries will be displayed during the Green Building Open House Tour on October 3rd-5th at the SPCA. Once dropped off, all entries become the property of the SPCA of Tompkins County until they are auctioned off to buyers. The SPCA of Tompkins County reserves the right to reject any participants’ entry.

If you have any questions, please contact Mila Fournier or Guillermo Metz of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County at 607-272-2292 or at or


The SPCA Doesn’t Just Save Animals; They Save the Planet, Too

SPCA Solar LogoPress Release Provided by the SPCA of Tompkins County
ITHACA/June 18 In celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the Dorothy and Roy Park Pet Adoption Center, the SPCA of Tompkins County is taking the extra step toward environmental and financial sustainability with the installation of a large roof mounted solar array beginning on June 17th.

The Dorothy and Roy Park Pet Adoption Center, when it opened in 2004 adjacent to the existing shelter (now the Rescue building) was the first LEED certified animal welfare agency in the United States.

“To say that I am excited about this next chapter in our history would be an understatement!” says Jim Bouderau, executive director.  “We are taking the next step in our future as a financially and environmentally sustainable organization by going solar.”

Since taking over in 2011, Bouderau has been striving to improve the infrastructure of the SPCA for long-term fiscal responsibility. Working with a Cornell alumnus who is both an SPCA supporter and a solar consultant, Bouderau and the SPCA’s board of directors researched for several months the possibility of solar power for the shelter’s electrical needs.

The adoption center structure is ideally situated and suited for a substantial roof mounted solar array.  The SPCA projects a cost savings on electricity of more than $6,600 per year based on current NYSEG rates and projects a savings of over $340,000 over the 25 year life of the system as NYSEG rates increase.

The cost of the system was reasonable, but was well beyond the agency’s normal financial means. With the financial support of several lead donors who realized the importance of this project and the long term impact on the organization, Bouderau was able to raise the necessary funds and the shelter is now ready for implementation. “We could not have even dreamed of embarking upon this project without some very special friends committed to the SPCA of Tompkins County, and by extension to the entire No Kill movement. It thrills me that we are able to have the array installed this summer and know that we will begin to see budgetary savings this fiscal year.”

Renovus Energy has been contracted to install the panels, and has completed the last bit of site work, readying the site for installation this week.###

Renvous Energy Logo∼∼∼∼∼

I am very excited about the SPCA’s solar panel project which required Jim to hustle to find supporters who wanted to earmark their donations for the installation. (If I’d have had an extra $8,000, I would have given to the project!) Already having a silver LEED certification, committing to renewable energy reinforces the importance of sustainability to the organization. Although the SPCA isn’t the first animal shelter with solar panels, it is among only a handful that are making the investment. Ultimately, though, the investment will not just reduce energy costs allowing more of the budget to be devoted to programming. It also will impact the long-term health of the planet. I hope that other communities will look to this milestone as an inspiration for their own animal shelters.

On a side note, George briefly worked for Renovous Energy. The employees there are knowledgeable and committed, and I know the SPCA is in good hands.

Earth Day Photo Contest

My photo at left is a finalist in an earth day photo contest run in conjunction with the publication of the new book Merchants of Virtue by Bill Birchard about Herman Miller. I love the Herman Miller company. They aspire to zero waste in their furniture and office solutions design. It was very exciting when I attended the 2010 Net Impact conference and was able to hear the Herman Miller sustainability coordinator talk about their company-wide initiatives. I’ve always wanted to visit their Zeeland, Michigan factory, and a trip to the headquarters is the grand prize in the contest!

Please go to the contest site and vote for your favorite photo. Mine, the Ithaca College School of Business Atrium, is #5 at the bottom of the page.

New Secretary of Agriculture Promotes People’s Garden

Farm Sanctuary Action Alerts & Updates

USDA’s People’s Garden Can Promote Plant-based Diets

In light of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s recent addition of “The People’s Garden” on the premises of the USDA in Washington, D.C., as well as his announcement of creating community gardens at every USDA facility around the world, let’s tell Vilsack that another way of “enhancing and conserving our land and resources” is by eating and promoting a plant-based diet.

In the USDA’s press release it is stated that, “The garden will showcase conservation practices that all Americans can implement in their own backyards and green spaces.” In his blog, Farm Sanctuary president Gene Baur (link: Gene’s Blog entry) urged activists throughout the country to show our appreciation for this enlightened action.

What You Can Do

E-mail Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, in appreciation of his recent groundbreaking goal of creating community gardens at each USDA facility throughout the world. Confirm that this is, indeed, a vital step in preserving the planet and “going green.” Remind him that veganism is the most eco-friendly and responsible move we can make to preserve our planet and its precious resources. Please, urge him to continue on this path by promoting plant-based diets for all Americans.

Remember to personalize your letter to make it a more effective message.

You can also use your own garden and your community gardens as a way of promoting plant-based diets with your neighbors. This spring, talk about the foods you’re growing, share recipes or invite your neighbors over to celebrate a vegan meal from your garden.

McCain’s VP Choice Bad for the Environment

From Greenpeace USA:

“Sarah Palin has one of the most anti-environment records of any governor in the United States. She has supported oil drilling in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas in Alaska, even when it meant sacrificing polar bears, beluga whales, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Despite her advocacy for expanded oil and gas drilling, Palin has done almost nothing to promote the clean energy sources that can help solve global warming, which is already having major negative consequences in her state. That shouldn’t be surprising since she started her campaign by denying the reality of man-made global warming.

“In a way, this is an appropriate choice for John McCain, who has rapidly abandoned his environmental principles and adopted the agenda of the oil executives backing his campaign.”

Detailed Greenpeace Backgrounder on Palin’s Environmental Record Available Here:

Grist article here.

Diet Coke and the Environment

The Ask Umbra column today dissects the evils of Diet Coke as it relates to the environment. Apparently, it takes 2-1/2 liters of water to produce one liter of DC. I stopped reading at the point…ignorance is bliss.

Would you give up your favorite soda to help the environment? I’m not quite ready to do that, but I applaud all who have or will.

Twisted Green Contest

Courtney Watson has the TwIsTeD shop on Etsy. All of her very cool jewelry and accessories are made from recycled material. For Earth Day, she is running a contest: send her a story of how you are living green, and you may be selected to win a great t-shirt. More details are on her blog; link below.

If you are one of my students, you can tell her about how my scouring of the trash cans after class for recyclable materials has made you very conscious about recycling! : )

Courtney Watson Blog