DIY Project: an Eco Dog House.

Via elephant journal
on Jun 2, 2012
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Eco Dog House.

Redford was hot. It gets realllly hot on his favorite balcony, sometimes.

He needed some shade.

And sometimes, Redford is cold.

Sometimes, it rains.

Sometimes, it snows. And if his friend Waylon has biked away somewhere, and Redford wanted to stay outside on the balcony so he could look out and see all that was happening below, he needs a cozy warm place to curl up until Waylon speeds back.

Redford needed a good old-fashioned simple doghouse.

So Waylon and I hopped in my monster truck and went to ReSource, the Center for ReSource Conservation’s salvaged building material yard, to see what ingredients we could find. From the vast supply of useful, interesting, and rare materials, we pulled some old fence panels, a matched pair of arched windows, a great old sheet of cool galvanized sheet metal, some picture frame samples, some polyisocunurate insulation, and some wood slats. Super affordable. Love ReSource.

If something is worth making, it’s worth making creatively, beautifully, and with reclaimed stuff.

The first night I cut things up and put things together at my shared shop space where I live, Wild Sage Cohousing. Friends stopped by to chat and lend a hand. A half dozen kids breezed through, helping here and there, and asking all sorts of questions.  These days, kids don’t get to be a part of the act of making, and they are always enthralled. This is also true for grown ups not so much younger than I, who grew up in a digital world, somehow missing the physical.

In my architectural practice, we seek to create moments like this through interweaving people’s paths through the day and offering opportunities for voluntary casual interaction. We design a lot of co-housing communities, and extend those lessons into affordable housing, single family homes, and even into mixed-use and retail spaces. We work to manipulate repurposed materials. We reduce energy needs, increase daylight, and work with the climate.  We know how to make buildings and communities that use less energy than they create each year. We aim for delight.

This doghouse offered me the chance to whip up a fun project in a matter of hours, help out a friend, and put a roof over a good dog’s silly head. It’s quicker than our usual projects.

The second night I undid much of what I did on night one, and then reconfigured the pile to completion.

The third night, my baby sister Karen and I wove the modularized components up the spiral staircase to Waylon’s (Redford’s) balcony, and with Red’s morale support, put them back together.

Today, Waylon and I hoisted the roof onto his deck, and installed it. Then there was the photo shoot and much backslapping.




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18 Responses to “DIY Project: an Eco Dog House.”

  1. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Nice article, and Redford is a real cutey! But an "eco" dog house? That's something like building an eco garage for your gas-guzzing steel monster.

    I really like cats and dogs, but also consider myself something of an environmentalist, so I'm afraid I have to get a bit negative.

    Take a look at:

    A quote:

    "A medium-sized dog has the same impact as a Toyota Land Cruiser driven 6,000 miles a year, while a cat is equivalent to a Volkswagen Golf."

    The article goes on to explain that rabbits and chickens can actually be beneficial, as you can eat them, while goldfish and canaries are ecologically pretty neutral.

    I'm sure Ele people have seen this kind of info before, but it's natural for all of us to downplay the harm from our own lifestyle while shouting up all the bad things that "they" are doing.

  2. elephantjournal says:

    It's a great question.

    A rescue dog, number one, is a living sentient being. A car is not. That's why elephant is about "the mindful life," not "the green life," or "the spiritual life"—but both. If we find ourselves yelling at our children about recycling, we're missing the point. If we however find ourselves driving an SUV to yoga class, we might be missing something, too.

    Furthermore, a rescue dog already exists—unlike a dog via a breeder, the taking in of a dog from a humane society does not feed supply/demand—perhaps it's closer, in your cold analogy, to a used car.

    I ride a bike, by the way, so I guess we can call it even.

    Finally, rabbits and chickens defined as beneficial because we can consume them for our pleasure…that's a narrow definition of "beneficial." I suggest we expand the definition of a beneficial way of life to include animals.

  3. Mark Ledbetter says:

    "ele is about the mindful life, not the green life or the spiritual life – but both"


    "your cold analogy"

    Not my analogy, actually, but it is an important analogy, cold tho it may be. I bring it up just because lots of people who condemn the 'other' (car drivers etc) need, I think, some awareness of their own actions.

    "that's a narrow definition of beneficial"

    Again, not my definition but the article's. Still, narrow tho it may be, there's some importance there.

    And hey, me too. Nothing but bikes, legs, and trains in my daily life! I'm with you bro. But I tend to stand up for those who have a tendency to be condemned here on ele, like SUV drivers, hunters, meat-eaters, despite being none of those. Which automatically means I tend to post contrarian or even confrontational stuff here. No harm intended!

  4. Mark Ledbetter says:

    PS, thanks for filling me in on the meaning of a 'rescue dog.' Having been out of the country too many years to count, I need regular updates in new vocabulary.

  5. Mark Ledbetter says:

    PPS. With a touch of regret at my insertion of negativity, just want to say, really nice story of Redford and his friends!

  6. elephantjournal says:

    All good! I do find the comparison a bit sad, but…all questions are well worth looking at in terms of trying to live with maximal positive impact, minimal negative effect, so I thank you for the manner with which you presented a "cold" question.

  7. […] instead of a cookie cutter version of an Ikea catalog. You can even find places that will help you build your own doghouse out of used […]

  8. […] suggest Prius < eco than SUV? Link – Trackbacks Search for EHS News Search […]

  9. Linda V Lewis says:

    Well, I think the eco-doggie house is super cool –esp in the summer–and obviously a good place for Redford in the rain or snow of winter! In fact, I am so impressed, with my grand-doggies new, compassionate digs, that I wouldn't mind a comparable eco-grannie-loft when the day comes that I need to shack up with my son in my old age!

  10. bryan bowen says:

    How green is it?

    It's an interesting question to me. On the one hand, it doesn't require any operational energy, ever, and that's pretty good. It also used all reclaimed materials, some of which are high embodied energy, others low. Whether a dog house is the highest and best use for those windows, I'm not sure. They aren't particularly energy efficient. But as for the rest of the materials, they are marginally useful for buildings, so this seems like a good home for them.

    It used to be that any material we could remove from the waste stream was going to a better place that it was headed for. Now that reclaimed material are seeing more use, their renewability needs to be considered, and they need to be used with a certain amount of thriftiness.

  11. elephantjournal says:

    Bryan! Hear that? We're gonna be busy.

  12. elephantjournal says:

    All I know is that it's 90 degrees today–it's only June 4–and the deck, Red's home when I'm out, is so hot I can't walk on it barefoot—so he's already chilling out, literally, in his little new home. I'm grateful. Thanks, Bryan.

  13. Ellen O. says:

    Very cool on-of-a-kind dog house!

    Mark, if you are going to discount dogs by comparing them to Toyota Land Cruisers, what do you say about children? Should we stop having them too? Or should we all end our own lives at, say, age 65? 55?

    Instead of dissing dogs, continue building cool dog houses and also….neuter pets, eat less meat, bus and bike more, fly on airplanes less, turn off the air conditioner, turn on the ceiling fan and have fewer children. That's a good place to start.

  14. Caroline is jealous of Redford's tiny house. I may have to build some sort of playhouse/treehouse to make up for it!

  15. Linda V Lewis says:

    Oh, that gives me an idea. Maybe I should wish for a recycled-reused material playhouse-treehouse for my granny loft! But I definitely want windows!

  16. Joanne Morris says:

    I am pretty amazed at how well you care about giving shelter to dogs and other animals. Indeed there are so many scrap material that we could use to provide them a nice house. A few painting contractors in Perth could also help to make their houses more appealing.

  17. You might as well throw in an energy-efficient a/c or temperature control. It seems like the only thing missing anyway.

  18. Oh, poor dog. How was his house? Paint it red! I bet Redford would be happy with his red house. I remember I had a project like this before, though I don't have a dog that time. I just stood there as a home decor. Then after months, a pup came. That made me create more projects with her as my model!