For over 40 years, Harmony House has been providing food, shelter, veterinary care, and adoption services for needy cats in Chicago. Poor building conditions and limited space at their prior facility prompted organization leadership to build a new shelter. The leadership was also extremely committed to sustainability in the new shelter, for environmental reasons, but also for the visibility it could bring the shelter– getting more potential adopters in their doors. This commitment lead Harmony House to be the first commercial building in Chicago to not only achieve LEED Platinum, but also to be net-zero energy.  

The 7,000 square-foot shelter is cageless, with large open rooms designed for maximum feline activity, including a variety of perches, scratching posts, and plenty of windows that face both the street and landscape areas. Additionally, three adoption playrooms, three admission rooms, four special needs suites, a medical ward, and  a treatment room are available to the cats as needed.

The building’s heating and cooling needs are powered by 14 geothermal wells, 20 solar thermal panels, plus solar photovoltaics. The design is organized around a central landscaped courtyard for day-lighting and easy access to a beautiful natural setting for Harmony House's human staff and team of volunteers.

Client: Harmony House for Cats

Location: Chicago, IL

Year: 2013


  • Net Zero Energy

  • LEED NC Platinum

Awards: 2013 ASHRAE-Illinois Chapter Excellence Award