Solar Goes To The Dogs

02 July 2019, 18:53

Sustainable BARKitecture Dog House Competition

When solar goes to the dogs. Literally.

In 2017, Denver hosted the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. It is described," as a life-changing competition for collegiate students and an intensive course in sustainability for consumers." 

Well, it may not be life-changing, but a side competition for our four-legged friends was defintely special and fun.

Traavelers passing through the Denver International Airport were encouraged to take a look at the display of custom dog houses with solar-power. But it was all for a good cause and in honor of the hard-working dogs at Denver Airport. 

The official BARKitecture competition rules state, "the designs must be built to suit a member of the DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS), catering to the dog’s size, unique personality, and preferences." 

Which one is your favorite? 




INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Nellye, a golden retriever who loves people but would rather avoid loud noises. DESIGN CONCEPT: With a long-time golden retriever companion on their team, AECOM set out to create separate spaces that encourage the activities they know this breed favors: a wide porch for friendly visits with people, complete with a playful chalkboard, and a doorway that gradually transitions to a quiet, private area for escaping commotion and decompressing. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: The solar panel charges a battery that provides energy to power LED lighting and to run a built-in fan that comes on as the temperature reaches a certain level. The overall design allows for natural air movement and for rising warm air to escape on hotter days. VALUE: $4582 Weight: 450 Dimensions: 7 x 4 x 4.5


CREATED BY: Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture

INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Butler, a shepherd mix who is fond of people-food and chasing varmints. DESIGN CONCEPT: Re-duce, re-use, re-treat: to reduce energy consumption, footprint and water usage; reuse existing materials to protect future canine generations; and to create a retreat for Butler that incorporates stimulating yet tranquil design features that will allow him to re-charge for a new day of wagging and photo ops with DEN passengers. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: With a footprint of only 6 x 4 x 3.5 this house saves on energy by its smaller design. The geometric design was driven by the reuse of existing material. The solar panel, which is angled to optimize maximum energy creation, powers both indoor and outdoor electrical outlets, so when Butler is not watching his favorite show on Animal Planet, his people can use the outlet to power their electric lawn trimmer. The covered porch provides Butler protection from the elements while he’s on varmint lookout. VALUE: $5000 Weight: 175 Dimensions: 6 x 4 x 3.5


CREATED BY: BurkettEUA and Maxson Engineering

INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Samson, an apple-eating golden retriever whose pet peeve is squirrels. DESIGN CONCEPT: To create a sustainable haven that provides Samson with comfort and rejuvenates his five senses SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: Samson’s Home is an energy efficient haven. On hot summer days Samson will have great ventilation with slatted assemblies on two sides of his dog house to let a nice breeze come through. The solar panel powers an interior light for Samson to keep guard against squirrels during the night. The angle of the roof is designed to optimize solar energy absorbed by the sun. On the interior, Samson will lounge on a cushy bed made of recycled polymers, while the flooring adds additional comfort as it is a soft but durable recycled rubber material that is easy to clean. VALUE: $5000 Weight: 250 Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 8


CREATED BY: Burns McDonnell

INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Oreo, a shih tzu/bichon mix whose favorite activity is socializing. DESIGN CONCEPT: To moderate the climate to keep a small breed like Oreo comfortable year-round and to support his social lifestyle with seating space for human visitors, a yard for play and a porch for viewing the world.

SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: Oreo’s creature comforts are balanced with renewable energy, water harvesting and local materials. Oreo’s house is equipped with a fan, solar chimney and underfloor heating system to moderate Oreo’s environment year-round. A rainwater catchment provides natural irrigation to a trellis for cooling vegetation and rounds out this house’s green features. VALUE: $3500 Weight: 235 Dimensions: 5.5 x 6.5 x 4


CREATED BY: CooverClark and Saunders

INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Jewels, a Pyrenees/Lab mix who loves visiting with people almost as much as she loves her favorite treat, carrots. DESIGN CONCEPT: To provide a contemporary, clean design that puts function first for Jewels and creates enough renewable energy for its systems to operate at net zero. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: Jewels’ house is made of recycled materials and a design and orientation that allows for collection of rain water, as well as a harvesting area for planting materials. The house is elevated to allow passive cooling, assisted by a recirculation fan. The material surfaces are all non-toxic, with clean lines allowing for a refined and simply detailed structure. The slat construction on the exterior allows for air circulation and visibility into the interior of the house. A canopy covers the entrance to provide a sheltered patio for Jewels to lounge and keep watch for visitors. VALUE: $2750 Weight: 242 Dimensions: 6.6 x 6.5 x 5.5


CREATED BY: Corona Designs

INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Annie, a terrier mix partial to snacking on snow and chasing squirrels. DESIGN CONCEPT: “Bowhaus 57” was designed to emulate the Colorado mountains to support Annie’s terrier tendencies toward climbing and burrowing. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: This organically designed house features three main resting areas where Annie can recharge from her active terrier lifestyle: an enclosed area, a shaded area for summer and a rooftop area for winter sunbathing. The solar panel, which will power Annie’s nightlight, is positioned to favor the solar angle of winter months when there are fewer hours of daylight. A funnel provides structural support and also collects rainwater for Annie to drink and snow for her to snack on. VALUE: $6000 Weight: 294 Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.5 x 3.5



DESIGN CONCEPT: To put the health and wellness aspect of sustainability in the forefront by creating a space where Sidney can connect with her owner to create a sense of closeness and relieve stress for both. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: This one-piece concept, with its integrated “turf chair,” provides a place for Sidney’s visitors to connect with her more closely. The solar panel powers an outlet for lap top or phone charging, an automatic toy toss, an evaporative cooling system, a fridge to chill beer and carrots, and Sidney’s name in lights! VALUE: $5000 Weight: 241 Dimensions: 8 x 6.5 x 4



INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Amelia, a dachshund with a taste for rawhide bones and whose favorite pastime is being on squirrel watch. DESIGN CONCEPT: Inspired by the architecturally iconic Farnsworth House in Illinois, the “VienerHaus” features a simple form and low profile that aligns with Amelia’s sleek proportions. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: A slatted system built of reclaimed materials allows for cross ventilation, solar heat gain control and visibility so Amelia can keep a watchful eye out for squirrels. The solar panel powers an internal battery to run the recirculated water pump system, a remote-controlled treat dispenser and an LED porch light so Amelia never has to arrive home in the dark. Jacobs would like to give special thanks to Tremco Roofing, who graciously supplied the single-ply roofing membrane for this dog house. VALUE: $6500 Weight: 250 Dimensions: 6.5 x 3.5 x 3



INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Chewy, a 135-pound Newfoundland whose favorite place is anywhere near food and whose favorite activity is chewing a very big bone. DESIGN CONCEPT: Passive and active sustainability work together seamlessly in this house that is designed to invite Chewy to enjoy the home’s flow, from a shaded lounge area to a space for food and water, and then to a cozy sleeping space. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: Chewy’s house is designed to provide him with a direct path to his fresh water and food station. Energy from the sun collected through the solar panel powers an LED light strip placed to illuminate the plants and allow for soft lighting within the sleeping area. Rain water collected in the planters will course through the natural filter of gravel, sand and charcoal to allow for clean drinking water. This house, by design, conveniently flows with Chewy’s every want and need while reducing his carbon paw print. VALUE: $5000 Weight: 250 Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 4.5


CREATED BY: OZ Architecture

INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Radar, a pistachio-loving Belgian Malinois whose favorite activity is agility work. DESIGN CONCEPT: “Radar’s Roost” was designed to appeal to Radar’s active, playful nature, this house combines practicality with repurposed or recycled materials that tie in with the vibrancy inspired by Denver’s RiNo neighborhood and its mix of old and new architecture and street art. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: Radar’s house illustrates that everything can have more than one purpose. This adaptable dog house is a perfect fit for an active dog like Radar with several ways to interact with it: the front wall folds up to create an awning over the porch so Radar can take advantage of the breeze on hot summer days and also have shelter from the elements of winter. A ramp that leads up to the rooftop to allows Radar to take in the great views of the Rocky Mountains, while his owners can keep an eye on Radar through a solar-powered doggie-cam. The solar panel acts as a shade element while also providing a sustainable source of power for the LED lights on the rooftop. VALUE: $7000 Weight: 290 Dimensions: 7 x 4 x 6


CREATED BY: Design: Davis Partnership Architects & The RMH Group; Construction: Fransen Pittman General Contractors

INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Oreo, a Saint Bernard/standard poodle mix who likes hot dogs and rolling in the snow. DESIGN CONCEPT: To take advantage of Colorado’s abundant sunshine and cool nights and incorporate sustainable materials, systems are used that are compatible with Colorado’s unique climate. The integration of technology provides a self-sustaining dwelling for Oreo that is comfortable year round. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION:Oreo’s new dog house is constructed of ultra-lightweight, rot-resistant, locally assembled panels made of sustainable materials. The exterior is clad in locally fabricated metal panels with a fire resistant roof made from the same material, and includes insulated glass vision panels to capture the available winter sun. The use of “phase change” materials (materials that change from solid to gel at designated target temperatures) actively absorb or release heat to maintain a consistently comfortable temperature for Oreo. The phase change system works in conjunction with solar powered fan and dampers to provide cooling and heating as needed. Illuminated red and blue lights on the interior alert Oreo’s owner that interior temperatures are either too hot or too cold. A float switch with an exterior hose connection will keep Oreo’s water bowl full with fresh water. VALUE: $2900 Weight: 250 Dimensions: 6 x 8 x 7.5


CREATED BY: RNL now Stantec

INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Choo-Choo, a 100-pound Newfoundland who loves meatballs and meeting people. DESIGN CONCEPT: To employ a variety of passive solar strategies to provide Choo-Choo with a comfortable retreat year round. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: Choo-Choo’s two-level house has a lower zone that utilizes interactive rope walls for cross ventilation to provide a cool place for him to hang out on warm days. When it’s chilly, Choo-Choo can take refuge in the more tightly enclosed upper loft, heated by the adjacent soda can solar roof assembly. With plenty of windows, a water collection system, and ropes to chew on, Choo Choo will be comfortable and entertained. VALUE: $5000 Weight: 250 Dimensions: 7 x 3 x 6



INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Pesto, a Labrador retriever who’s never met a treat he doesn’t like and whose favorite activity is lying in the sun. DESIGN CONCEPT: To provide multiple degrees of openness to allow for a smaller space that is easier to keep warm in cold weather and can be opened up for comfort in the warmer weather. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: Built with salvaged or repurposed materials wherever possible, Pesto’s house has a redwood frame for weather resistance. The sliding roof lets the sun in and keeps the weather out and the wind-scoop design keeps the house ventilated. An insulating “Trombe” wall uses recycled tennis balls as insulation and as toys for Pesto. The green wall provides treats for Pesto and his owner, in addition to collecting rainwater. The solar panel acts as the wind-scoop roof and powers the green wall pump and a radio to soothe Pesto or entertain friends. VALUE: $6869.75 Weight: 250 Dimensions: 6 x 3.5 x 5


CREATED BY: Wong Strauch Architects

  INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Sarah, a standard poodle who loves obedience activities and will snack on any available treat. DESIGN CONCEPT: To provide an affordable, low maintenance green design that will look great and last for a lifetime. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: Sarah’s house is built with laminated wood frames and insulated walls to provide an efficient and strong support while reclaimed wood provides character and warmth throughout. Sustainable features include a rain water collection system with filtration, passive heating and cooling, a concrete thermal mass wall, radiant floor heating, and a solar panel battery system to power all electronic devices. VALUE: $3810 Weight: 145 Dimensions: 7'11' x 7'4


CREATED BY: Zaga Neighborhood Design

  INSPIRED BY: DEN Canine Airport Therapy Squad dog, Ingrid, a Lab/retriever mix who loves reading with children but is not so fond of nuzzles from the cat. DESIGN CONCEPT: The “LoDog” house features a façade that “barkens” to the architecture of Denver’s early days with modern day hints from the graffiti wall, keeping Ingrid in sync with the city’s historic/hip LoDo area. SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATION: This eco-friendly, insulated plywood house made largely of recycled IKEA countertops, has a roof that is coated in white sealant to reflect the sunlight and reduce the interior temperature on warm days.The house is heated and cooled via a combination heater/fan powered by the solar panel, and also takes advantage of passive cooling opportunities by providing coverable airflow grates on the floor. Rainwater is harvested through a first flush diverter system and is filtered through a water dispenser to quench Ingrid’s thirst. VALUE: $5000 Weight: 250 Dimensions: 8 x 4 x 4.5

Sustainable BARKitecture Dog House Competition­­­—hosted by U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 supporting sponsor, Denver International Airport (DEN).


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Tag: solar, pick my solar, dogs, dog house, solar marketing, eco friendly homes, energy saving, real estate agent, barkitecture, denver, department of energy

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