Welcome to the latest installment of Green Horsekeeping! Want to take your farm to the next eco-friendly level? Read on for the ways in which you can make your facilities comfy for your horses and helpful to the environment.
- Concrete and other construction materials- although its production does include wastes like slag, burnt clay, and combustor ash, concrete’s recyclability and energy efficiency makes it a great choice for building your barn. Concrete reduces temperature swings in buildings, and its light color keeps buildings cool in hot, sunny environments. “Green concrete”–concrete produced with minimum emissions and waste products–is also an option that your contractor may have available. You can also inquire with your contractor or builder about using recycled or reclaimed steel and wood as well.
- Paint– Paints can release toxic emissions into the atmosphere from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in their composition. These emissions can be released for years after the paint’s application. To avoid this, look for low-VOC paints when constructing your facilities–most home improvement retailers have a wide variety of eco-friendly options available. The right paint choice can also help you save on energy bills. Use a light-colored exterior paint to reduce heat absorption, and consider going with light shades in feed and tack rooms as well. Light paints in interior rooms increase visibility and reduce the need for bright lights.
- Lighting– speaking of lights, try to utilize as much natural light as possible in the design of your facilities with windows and skylights to reduce the need for electric lighting. Where electric lighting is absolutely essential (feed rooms, tack rooms, offices, etc.), use energy-efficient bulbs like compact florescents and LEDs, which sap about 25-80% less energy than incandescents.
- Ventilation– barn ventilation is crucial for your horse’s health, especially in our area where all seasons are prone to being uncomfortably wet whether it’s hot or cold. In improperly ventilated barns, moisture and uric acid can build up along with pathogens that spread disease. This can lead to severe respiratory issues in horses or any other animal occupying the barn. It can also make the spread of disease from animal to animal much easier. Heat is also a factor that can make horses miserable in an poorly-ventilated barn, and one that horse owners in Florida must be especially aware of. Ideally, a barn should be constructed so that fresh air can enter one end and exit the other, with space between the eaves and the roof for extra ventilation.
Keep and eye out for our next installment of Green Horsekeeping! Be sure to check out our previous editions: