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  • Writer's pictureHannah Skidmore, MBA

Address Odor, Disease, and Noise Issues in an Animal Care Facility

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

How to address odor, disease, and noise in an animal care facility with mechanical engineering

Did you know that many of the odor, disease, and noise problems in an animal care facility can be addressed with mechanical engineering solutions? Often folks do not realize that the mechanical design of an animal care facility differs from other building types. The engineering requirements and the mechanical systems needed in a veterinary clinic, animal hospital, or animal shelter are vastly different from the systems needed in office buildings, schools, or even human medical facilities.

Let’s face it; engineering systems are complex! The DLI team regularly works with Executive Directors and Practice Managers to first educate them on basic engineering systems required for animal care facilities. From there, the DLI team works to ensure the building has the proper systems to positively impact the lives of the animals and humans who frequent the facilities.

There are many aspects to a mechanical system, and DLI’s recommendations vary between animal hospitals, animal shelters, and doggy daycares. Remember that every animal care facility is unique, and DLI customizes recommendations based on various factors. Here are three protips that the DLI team most frequently recommends to their clients when addressing a facility's odor, disease, and noise problems.

ProTip #1 - Include Small, Independent Mechanical Zones

DLI typically designs a building with multiple zones. Each zone within the building has its own HVAC system and ducting that is independent from other mechanical systems within the building.

DLI often creates different zones around different species, rooms, and animal temperaments. The goal is to develop flexible and isolatable spaces throughout the facility while creating a building where animals cannot hear or smell outside their area. Most importantly, disease control is much higher with the use of smaller independent HVAC zones.

The needs of an animal shelter or vet hospital require many more HVAC zones than a typical building. For instance, if larger HVAC zones are used in an animal care facility like in a typical office building, then odors, disease, and noise will move throughout the entire building instead of isolating within the small zone.

ProTip #2 - Utilize Dehumidification Systems

Animal shelters and veterinary clinics are very wet and moist places. The moisture is often because animal care facilities use a lot of water in their cleaning procedures. The challenge moisture poses to facilities is that many types of diseases thrive in these damp environments. It also causes building finishes, like flooring, walls, and paint to decay or even mold.

Another protip to keep in mind involves dehumidification. DLI often integrates dehumidification systems into the facilities they engineer and design. Dehumidification serves as a very effective way to get water out of the building and keep the facility dry - which ultimately helps keep animals healthy and the facility clean. The dehumidification system is another mechanical engineering protip to keep in mind for any animal care facility.

ProTip #3 - Find the Fresh Air Balance

Fresh air is beneficial in mechanical designs for animal care facilities. Folks often misunderstand how to integrate and leverage fresh air within their engineering systems properly. It is very easy for a facility to incorporate too much fresh air or too little fresh air. The DLI team engineers the proper balance of fresh air throughout the mechanical systems in the building they design. For instance, the balance of fresh air even differs based on the zone and area within a facility. An example of this is the different fresh air needs in an isolation holding room versus a healthy adoption holding room; these spaces have very different air requirements.

In addition to the proper balance of fresh air supporting animal health and safety, the appropriate balance is also essential to the building's operating budget. It is expensive to treat fresh outside air. If the levels of fresh air are too high, then the mechanical equipment must work harder to treat the air which often leads to extremely high utility costs each month - a direct hit on the building's operating budget. But, if fresh air levels are too low, then it can be rendered ineffective. Fresh air is essential, but it is critical to work with engineers like the DLI experts to design an optimal system for your needs while carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages.

Engineering with Animal Health and Wellbeing as the Priority

The mechanical design of an animal care facility sets the tone for the health and well-being of the animals and humans. The mechanical system affects odor control, disease control, and noise control - which all play a part in animal health and behavior. Schedule a virtual consultation with DLI to discuss these three protips and discover additional ways to combat odor, disease, and noise problems in your facility.

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