horses standing inside stalls with reclaimed wood beams supporting the wooden roof above them

Sustainable Practices in Horse Barn Construction

In recent years, extreme weather events, droughts, floods, and a heightened awareness of best practices have moved sustainable construction considerations to the forefront of any building plan. New barns and equestrian facilities should likewise consider several key components to keep our environment – and our horses – as healthy as possible. Let’s take a look at what some of those components entail.

Natural Air Flow

High summer temperatures can cause health issues and dehydration, as well as make both horses and caretakers uncomfortable and stressed. Designing a barn with natural air flow is essential to alleviate such conditions, pulling air in low and venting it out up high. Studying a site’s prevailing winds and the direction from which storms typically approach helps architects utilize air movement through the structure while protecting against heavy weather with appropriate roofing choices, window placement, and siding options.

Water Management

Proper water management is key around the barn. Rain water collected from roofs and stored in barrels or cisterns can then be used to irrigate pastures and fields, while porous floor coverings and walkways can help to move water into the ground to prevent pooling and puddles.

Solar Power

A barn’s roof provides plenty of room for solar panels and wind-powered generators that can be placed on the property to take advantage of natural power sources. Efficiencies in both have made great strides in the past decade, offering improved energy conversion and storage. Tax incentives to install these systems are available from many local and state governments.

Manure Management

Manure management that includes composting is beneficial in a new barn build, as it provides a natural way to improve surrounding soil and pasture health.

Mass Timber

In the structure itself, mass timber beams are derived from renewable wood resources, which are sustainably sourced and harvested. Mass timber has a low embodied carbon level and has the ability to sequester carbon, meaning that the wood captures and stores carbon during its growth and installation, offsetting emissions. At five times lighter than concrete with a similar strength-to-weight ratio, CLT beams are an ideal building material for architects and engineers intent on reducing the carbon footprint of their projects.

The strength of CLT beams comes from their perpendicularly layered, glued, and pressed structure, which enables them to support long spans and reduce the need for columns inside a barn or equine arena. Because of its unique qualities, CLT presents a notable contrast to traditional construction materials:

  • It is produced to exacting standards in factories, not on a construction site
  • The timber pieces are modular and can be trucked in and craned into place
  • Construction is quick as pieces lock into one another with few joints needed
  • Perhaps surprisingly, mass timber has a high resistance to burning
  • Exposed wood construction has positive psychological benefits, due to its biophilic properties
  • Wood has natural insulating qualities

Sustainable Practices Matter

Prioritizing sustainable building practices can positively impact our health, the health of our horses, and the health of our planet. Before starting your next barn build, contact B&D Builders – let’s talk about how we can create a smart and sustainable structure, together.